Mentors 2021

The Mentorship Programme is an important component of the New Professionals Programme (NPP). This programme provides the NPP with an opportunity to engage with a wider ICA community audience, and the programme is of benefit not only to the new professionals but also to the more experienced professionals who serve as mentors.

The most recent call for mentors was launched in the second half of 2020. A total of 14 mentor applications were received. After a selection process led by Laura Millar, six mentors were chosen to pair with the six Active NPs for 2020.

To welcome this new group of mentors into the programme and the ICA community, we invite you to read their biographies as written by their mentees. 


Turki Aoied Al-Otaibi

Turki Aoied Al-Otaibi lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. He is the Digital Archive Manager for the Saudi Broadcasting Authority in Riyadh. He has a BA degree in Media and an MA in Business Administration from King Saud University (received in 2014). He is now in charge of one of the largest projects in film preservation for the country: audio archiving more than 470,000 recordings from film and tape to digital formats.

He is head of the Technical Committee for Documentation for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which is “the biggest center for archives in the Middle East.” ‪He brings to his work several years of experience in archives and digitization. He also has an interest in the relationship between artificial intelligence and data.

‪He recently attended an online conference on the subject of “Intellectual Property”, through the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property, 2020. As he noted, ‪“The most interesting video I’ve ever seen is for Macca in 1950-1960. I was impressed and I hope that, in the near future, we will have a free online platform for Saudi Arabia specially for archives.”

  • Mentee: Razan Ahmad, Jordan

Leonor Calvão

Leonor Calvão is a Portuguese archivist currently living in the wonderful city of Lisbon. She graduated in Philosophy and then did a postgraduate degree in documentary sciences with special reference to archives. Soon after, she did a master's degree in palaeography and diplomacy because she finds the study of the history of written cultures fascinating. Leonor argues that, among many other things, this type of study enables us to analyse how writing has served political power and its counterculture.  The link between writing and archives is obvious to her, so she can connect her interests. She also enjoys the study of symbolism, colour and lighting and is happy when she can combine these different areas in her research.

Her professional career was linked, in a first phase, to the description of architectural projects and photography, a field that, during the 1990ties, was still undervalued within archives in Portugal. "I have always found it interesting to describe and index images, a task that is sometimes more complicated than handwritten documents", she says. She also specialised in the organisation and description of cartographic and architectural plans and organised the parliamentary photographic and audio-visual archives.

A second phase of her career was closely connected to the inventory of personal and family archives. Today her interests are linked to citizen science projects and collaboration between users and archives, which she considers a fundamental factor in maintaining the relevance of archives in today's world. "Personally, I have been very interested in the analysis of new relationships with archive users. It is a subject that has always confused me because here, in Portugal, historical archives 'speak' a hermetic language to users, and it is necessary for them to understand archival description". Her PhD thesis addresses this issue, since it concerns the study of the mediation of information in parliamentary institutions and analyses the link between users and their information services (archives, libraries and study centres).

Besides her wonderful work in archives, Leonor enjoys animals, photography and keeping informed.

  • Mentee: Luz María Narbona, Chile

Juliette Desplat

Dr Juliette Desplat, originally from Paris, France is currently the Head of Modern Collections at The National Archives in the United Kingdom.

She holds a PhD from the University of Paris 3 Sorbonne-Nouvelle with a thesis focusing on Egyptian nationalism, and Masters degrees in Egyptology and in Strategic Studies and Defence Policies.

At The National Archives, Juliette manages the Modern Teams who are responsible for records from 1782 to the present-day. She specialises in 19th and 20th century Middle Eastern history, looking especially at the development of national identities, international boundaries, comparison of French and British colonial ideologies and practices in the region, and the interaction between politics, intelligence and archaeology. She translates her expertise into a variety of academic and public engagement outputs.

Previously, she spent five years working as a lecturer at the universities of Cergy-Pontoise, Paris-Descartes, and Paris 3 Sorbonne-Nouvelle as well as at the British University in Egypt (Cairo), lecturing in the history of ideas, colonial history, and history of the British legal, judicial, and political institutions. She has extensive experience in advising and training students in the administrative history and content of modern British Government records.

Juliette volunteered to act as a mentor for the New Professionals Programme because it affords opportunities for exchanges of ideas and a degree of knowledge sharing which would not necessarily occur organically. Looking together at the opportunities and challenges the sector is currently facing can only be beneficial for both the New Professional and the mentor.

  • Mentee: Zoe Dickinson, US (originally from UK)

Ineke Deserno

Dr. Ineke Deserno was appointed NATO Archivist in February 2010. She is responsible for preserving the institutional memory, in both digital and paper formats, of the Alliance and providing access to its rich documentary heritage. A career international civil servant through and through, Ineke arrived at NATO having accumulated 15 years of professional experience managing the corporate records and archives of the United High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Ineke’s multinational approach to archives and information management was shaped by her education in the three major national traditions in the field. She holds a Master of History and Archival Studies from the Netherlands, a post-graduate degree in archives and records management from Canada, and PhD from Australia. She enjoys cycling and running.

Ineke is a regular lecturer at information management conferences around the world and continues to participate in various international archives-related research projects and professional associations.

  • Mentee: Elisabeth Klindworth, Germany

Elaine Penn

Dr Elaine Penn is the Head of University Records and Archives at University of Westminster, in London, England. As part of her work at the university, Dr Penn manages a small team of professionals who are responsible for collection and preservation of over 1,000 linear metres of records created by the university to make them available to students, staff and the public.

Dr Penn has been a qualified archive and records professional for over twenty years. Prior to joining the university, she worked at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) as a Records Manager for two years (from 1998 to 1999) and then moved to an archival role at The Rothschild Archive. Her career at the University of Westminster started in 2005 as University Archivist.

Dr Penn holds a PhD in Information Studies from University College London (UCL). Her thesis “Exploring Archival Value: An Axiological Approach”, explored the potential analogies between the philosophical discipline of axiology and value concepts within archival theory. Dr Penn edited several publications on University of Westminster history, and she is the author of the volume “Educating for Professional Life: Twenty-five years of the University of Westminster” (2017). Her research interests include the practical application of archival theory, particularly in the area of records appraisal. Dr Penn has presented papers at several local and international conferences. She is dedicated to making a meaningful contribution to the profession locally and internationally, including by serving as ICA New Professional Programme Mentor, 2020-2021. Dr Penn is also a member of several local and international professional organisations, including the Information and Records Management Society (IRMS) and the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC).

  • Mentee: Makutla Mojapelo, South Africa

Kelly Spring

Kelly Spring currently works as an Access Archivist, Head of Digital Curation and Acting Head of Manuscripts and Rare Books at East Carolina University. As well as specialising in management of digital records and access, she has published and is passionate about the importance of soft skills in the archival sector, such as leadership, project management and communication.

She is incredibly involved in the archive community, through her publishing, mentoring at the Society of American Archivists and Secretary for the ICA Expert Group on Managing Digital and Physical Records. Her first archive role was working as the Assistant Curator of Manuscripts at John Hopkins University, whilst also studying for her Masters. Before entering the world of archives, she worked in a variety of other roles including as an au pair in Switzerland and as an air hostess for American Airlines.

Kelly has worked in a number of universities across the USA, from Maryland, California and currently North Carolina, in both the archives and records management areas, and with both physical and digital records. She has set up infrastructure for curatorial staff working in the accessioning process, accessioning and processing born-digital material, and providing access to collections. Currently she manages 6 full time employees in addition to graduates and undergraduates at the university. When she is not buried in the archives, she enjoys being outdoors and taking long, slow waddles with her two basset hounds.

  • Mentee: Francesa Mackenzie, UK

From left to right: Turki Aoied Al-Otaibi, Leonor Calvão, Juliette Desplat, Ineke Deserno, Elaine Penn, Kelly Spring.