Many records officers throughout the state recognize or have worked with Kendra Yates, the Chief Records Officer for the state of Utah. Kendra is an integral part in everything that happens at Utah State Archives and Records Service (“Archives”), so I invited her to an interview to learn more about her.
Kendra’s Multiple Roles
Since 2015, Kendra has been the manager of the RIM (Records and Information Management) Section, which includes the RIM Specialists and the State Records Center facility in Clearfield. In 2018, she was appointed the first ever Chief Records Officer for the state and she currently serves as the executive secretary for the Records Management Committee.
Although what Kendra does on a day-day basis varies, she is always thinking about how the Archives services can work together holistically for our customers. She spends her time coordinating between the RIM/Records Center teams and other sections of the state Archives to make sure that the “right records get to the right people at the right time.” Additionally, as the Chief Records Officer, Kendra responds to GRAMA (Government Records Access and Management Act) requests submitted to the Archives. Last year she received 86 requests, 41 of which were from frequent requesters. Kendra has a knack for analyzing procedures and finding ways to improve them. She also loves when she gets to provide customer service to a records officer.
The biggest project that Kendra has undertaken so far was a full network drive cleanup for the State Archives. This massive move allowed the Archives to repurpose the original server space for storing historical electronic records. Kendra gave a wonderful presentation about her experience with the project, which may be viewed on our YouTube channel.
Currently, Kendra is working on acquiring a new system for managing customer information. The goal is to be able to use a Learning Management System (LMS) for the records officer certification test, which will allow for a more interactive experience when certifying. It’s a project that means a lot to Kendra and has been many years in the making due to the many components involved.
When asked what her biggest challenge was, Kendra says it’s trying to make changes in a way that will stick. It’s important to her that everybody, from the people at the top to the people “in the trenches,” are heard and show buy-in to changes. Sometimes it can be challenging to gain the momentum to make a system change, but Kendra is determined to navigate the roadblocks as they come.
Kendra loves many aspects of her job, but her favorite is customer service. She truly enjoys providing help to a records officer or member of the public in distress. She likes people, and enjoys having a chance to teach others. Kendra also loves that her job allows her to work with people from all across the state. She likes exploring Utah and getting to know people from remote areas of our state.
- Dealing with some records requesters can be challenging. Kendra’s advice is to work on those requests when you’re “in a good place”: when you have time and are not feeling impatient or angry. It’s important to remember that these requesters are human, and to also remember why transparency and the whole records access process is important. Keeping these points in the forefront of your mind will help to manage potential frustration as you respond.
- Be bold! Don’t hesitate to represent your position and your interests within your organization. It’s okay to ask for help when you need it, too. Know that you are not alone and you don’t have to do it alone. At the State Archives we understand the value of your efforts and your records, so if you’re in an organization where you’re working to sell records management to administration, and/or you need to hear a thank you, give us a call (801-531-3863). We appreciate you and all the work you do.