Meet Our New Instructor – Rae Lynn Haliday, MBA, CRM/CIGO, FAI


Published: July 16, 2023 by Melissa Prunty Kemp

Rae Lynn Haliday Opportunities to perform records management skills taught in our MARA courses have expanded into all disciplines. Many of our past guest lecturers have illustrated through their exciting career positions just how far and wide a MARA degree can be used. The MARA program is furthering that aim by adding to our faculty, including an expert who spoke to us in September 2020. Welcome Rae Lynn Haliday, who brings decades of records management experience in the field of Zoology.

When asked how she got into record management in a zoo, she traces her pathway from early childhood. “My parents were hard working people who were mostly self-employed. My dad was a blacksmith, horse breeder and professional rodeo performer but he also had his Barber’s license and was a medic in the Korean War. My mom balanced raising three kids and working part-time jobs until her late 30’s when she started cosmetology school and eventually ran her own business. My parents passed on their love of animals to me so if you’re wondering why I work for a zoo, that would be it! They also instilled in me the desire to work hard for what you want, and not whine about it, and to feel worthy but never entitled.” We learn more in this brief interview.


As a CRM/CIGO how did you migrate into records management in the zoological area? And are there unique aspects of RIM in your field that are particularly inviting or challenging for RIM professional?

People that work in animal or veterinary care or research, end up in zoos or similar facilities due to their love for animals. My love of animals absolutely led me to work at the local zoo in San Antonio, Texas. I was 17 when I started my first new job. After I graduated from high school, I pursued a degree in biology and focused on moving from a part-time to a full-time keeper position with the end goal of being a curator and managing an animal collection in the zoo. In 1985, when I returned from college, a full-time records clerk position was available, and I applied. The position was quickly elevated to the registrar role. And that was the beginning of an amazing career in zoological records management. Records managers come from diverse backgrounds and many of them will state they kind of fell into records management; meaning it was not what they thought they would be doing for a career. That was definitely the case for me.


You have an extensive volunteer history. Tell us about some of your volunteer service that was especially useful and helpful in you developing your RIM skills.

The typical mission of zoological institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) includes animal conservation, education, research and entertainment. Professionals working in zoos and aquariums are highly invested people who are extremely passionate about saving animals and natural resources. The activities conducted in alignment with that mission, however, are highly regulated due to the legal protections afforded to animals in the wild or held in human care to prevent or stop the exploitation of wildlife for commercial gain. These legal protections have a significant impact on compliance and records management requirements in zoological institutions.

Additionally, zoological facilities conduct extensive research on animals held in human care and accurate, detailed records are essential for this work. High quality care requires accurate and timely records to be created and professionally managed so that animal and veterinary information is accessible to those who need it, when they need to care for the many animals held in zoos and aquariums.

One of the most challenging historical aspects of records management in zoos was not having sufficient support for professional development and the awareness about global best practices in RIM, or an appropriate structure for professional-level positions; which can all impact your ability to effectively manage resources or compliance.


In your opinion, what are the core values to develop for career advancement in the RIM professions?

Qualities I look for include being intuitive, self aware, honest, hardworking, insightful, highly organized, and investigative as well as an intrinsic desire for high standards for themselves and the organization. You must be willing to help others through mentorship in order to move the needle for RIM at your organization and to garner adequate respect for the records management role. Leading a RIM program requires hard work and dedication, commitment and passion and the ability to partner and collaborate.  All of these leadership qualities combined with your expertise, technical skills and education in managing records will really set you up for success in this field. Leading a RIM program requires dedication, passion, collaboration partners, and all of these qualities combined with the expertise and technical skills and education for managing records will really set you up for success in this field.


You mentioned that you are a servant leader. What does this leadership style mean to you? Why do you consider yourself a servant leader?

Much the same as those qualities I look for when developing professionals entering the RIM profession emulate the typical values of the servant leader. I started out in a profession when RIM was nonexistent. Then in response to changing legal requirements, this new position was created in zoos and aquariums and it was molded into what it is today through the course of changing business needs; ground zoo with no roadmap. And we had to mold that profession to fit involving business needs. We didn’t really have a roadmap for it. Starting a RIM program in this environment is extremely challenging at all levels. The first registrars had to lean on each other for mentorship, leadership and advocacy, brainstorming and support in the early days before the possession was really standardized. The Zoological Registrars Association (ZRA) was also professionalizing to better represent, advocate for and to advance the zoological registrar position within the zoo community. The values necessary to support, train and promote each other through this process is really embedded in servant leadership. So, I think servant leadership is very effective and has historical significance within the RIM profession.

The same scenario can be referenced with the Institute of Certified Records Managers or the ICRM and the journey that it took beginning in the 70s to professionalize the records manager profile in the RIM community.

Servant leaders are empathetic, helpful, committed to developing, honoring and seeing each other. They’re inspirational. They’re visionary, and they’re committed to focus on creating cultures of empowerment and trust. So, I think the profession and servant leadership are uniquely linked at the core.


Tell us about the classes that you’re going to teach this fall?

I will teach a course on Advanced Leadership and Advocacy for Records Professionals. I have just under 40 years of experience in managing RIM programs, and for the majority of those years I have been developing, mentoring and coaching records professionals in one regard or another including working with employees, volunteers, ICRM candidates and prospects or new practitioners in the field. As a servant leader, I lead by example and I’m passionately committed to helping others succeed in the profession. I’ll be a strong, committed passionate advocate and mentor for San Jose State University.


Do you have any last messages of wisdom, encouragement, uplift that you would like to offer for success as a RIM?

Whatever path you took to arrive in the RIM profession, please commit to being the best leader, advocate and practitioner that you can be. The profession needs your talent, commitment, passion and your focus for long-term sustainability and relevance.

I encourage all of the graduates to leverage the partnership that the MARA program has with the ICRM to qualify for credit for its exams, so that you can obtain your RIM certification as soon as possible in your career. This is such a wonderful opportunity for you to make connections and network as much as you can to get involved in the profession.

Collaborate and advocate! Your MARA degree and your ICRM certification will help you stand out among the competition for the best RIM positions. The hard work is applying everything you’ve learned to creating, improving and advancing RIM programs.

Commit to being a lifelong learner to ensure you maintain your skills and competencies. Once your degree is done, your learning stops unless you engage in professional development activities. Certification really helps you continue to keep your skills up to date. It’s critical as a leader that you develop your staff and provide ample opportunities for them to grow as well under your leadership.


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