After 32 years of extraordinary service to the National Archives, Deputy Archivist Debra Steidel Wall announced her retirement, effective November 30, 2023.
Dr. Colleen Shogan, Archivist of the United States, commented:
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has been fortunate to have had Debra as an agency leader. Her steadfast belief in and advocacy for the agency’s mission has been unparalleled. As NARA’s longest serving Deputy Archivist, Debra leaves an outsized impact on our agency. We are all grateful for her public service.
Dr. Colleen Shogan, Archivist of the United States
Wall joined the National Archives in 1991 as an archivist trainee in the Motion Picture, Sound, and Video Branch. She went on to lead the Lifecycle Coordination Staff, where she and her staff were responsible for agency-wide information policy, the agency’s first website, project management for systems development, and data architecture and administration. She served as a member of the executive team developing the Electronic Records Archive (ERA) system, and played an important part in NARA’s first agency-wide digitizing project.
During this time, she led the creation of NARA’s first agency-wide archival data model and description standards as well as the Archival Research Catalog (ARC), the predecessor to today’s National Archives Catalog. Throughout her career, Wall has been a passionate advocate for archival description and digitization as a means of public access.
In 2010, Wall chaired the Archivist’s Task Force on Agency Transformation, charged with recommending organizational strategies to position NARA to flourish and lead in the future. As a result, NARA envisioned a dramatically new way of doing business focused on the primacy of electronic records and digital services, placing the customer at the center of the work, and fostering openness, transparency, and participation, both internally and externally. NARA’s present values, vision, organizational structure, and strategic plan are a direct outcome of that work.
In 2011, Archivist David S. Ferriero appointed Wall as Deputy Archivist of the United States. In addition to assisting the Archivist with all aspects of running the agency, Wall has been dedicated to improving employee engagement and morale through an effective workplace culture program. She served on the Congressional Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission, leading NARA’s commemoration of the passage of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote. Since 2016, she has also served as NARA’s executive leader for electronic records systems and digital preservation, better positioning the agency to preserve and provide access to the federal government’s electronic records.
Wall has served as Deputy Archivist since July 2011 and served as Acting Archivist from May 1, 2022, through May 17, 2023.
- Deputy Archivist of the United States Debra Steidel Wall. National Archives photo by Susana Raab.: National Archives