This is part 2 of 5 articles highlighting women who work at the
Brazos River Authority as we celebrate Women’s History Month.
Sitting at her new desk in the Central Files section of the Waco office, Susan Trammell is surrounded by thousands of files that document the Brazos River Authority’s rich history. The quiet hum of the files room is infiltrated by the sound of computer keyboards clacking, the shuffling of papers and a casual conversation between coworkers who haven’t seen each other for a while. While the BRA’s central office has been quite empty since the onset of Covid-19, which caused most BRA employees at the organizations’ Central Office in Waco to work from home, Susan has found a new rhythm and workspace as the BRA’s newest Records Management Officer.
Though her role is new to her, Susan is no stranger to the BRA and the hard work it takes to keep the organization running smoothly. Susan has been working behind the scenes at the BRA in different departments and positions for nearly 20 years. She started working at the Central Office in 2002 as an Information and Support Technician in the Government and Customer Relations department. After working in that role for a couple of years, she moved on to the Upper Basin department to serve as their Senior Administrative Assistant.
During her years at the BRA, Susan’s worked closely with Debbie Ewing, the most recent Records Management Officer. So, when Debbie announced that she would retire in late 2020, Susan was a natural fit for her position.
“Matt Phillips, the Legislative & Governmental Affairs Manager here, asked me if I would like to take this position since I had worked with Debbie for so long,” Susan said. “I spent several years helping Debbie with filing and other things. So, when Matt asked me if I would like to take on this role, I knew that I already had the knowledge and understood how things worked in this position, so I said yes.”
Debbie spent about six months training Susan to make the shift between the two women as smooth as possible. Even though Susan knew the basics of the job and what it entailed, there was a lot to learn about the processes and how to keep the filing of documents consistent.
“I basically knew where everything was filed, but during my training, Debbie showed me exactly how she did things,” Susan said. “She also told me that consistency is really important in this position and how to keep things consistent the way that she had it set up. She showed me exactly how she scanned and filed everything.”
Susan was officially designated as the Records Management Officer by the BRA’s Board of Directors during their meeting Oct. 26, 2020. The notification of her designation was communicated in writing to the State Library, in accordance with the applicable provision of Chapter 203, Local Government Code.
Debbie Ewing officially retired from the role on Dec. 15, 2020. Through Debbie’s and Susan’s coordination and thorough training, they created a seamless transition in the management of the BRA’s Central Files and Records.
Susan’s new job may seem straightforward, but it’s a vital role required by the state and keeps the BRA’s important records intact and easily accessible when needed. Susan manages anything that the BRA does that is paper-related, whether it’s filing all the contracts and putting them in a database or keeping copies of the Board meeting minutes.
“I often have to coordinate with other people around the office to help answer any questions, or they’ll turn in contracts to me,” Susan said.
Another aspect of Susan’s job is following the state of Texas’ records retention schedule. According to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, a records retention schedule is a document that identifies and describes a state agency’s records and the lengths of time that each type of record must be retained. A retention schedule defines the minimum length of time a state agency must retain a record before destruction or archival preservation.
Protection of documents is also a requirement for Susan as Records Administrator. The BRA was formed by legislation in 1929. Many original documents and contracts dating back nearly 100 years are now stored in a controlled vault, while other more fragile documents are available on microfiche or computer scans.
After working at the BRA for nearly 20 years, Susan is familiar with many different departments and the employees within them. When asked about what has kept her at the BRA for all this time, Susan’s response was simple—she loves working with the people here.
“My favorite thing about working at the BRA is the people. It’s a great group of people; they are hardworking, kind and know how to get the job done. It’s incredible,” she said.
Outside of work, Susan loves spending time with her two sons and their wives, her four grandchildren, her parents and her sister. Whether it’s her grandkids coming to her place for sleepovers or going on trips with her sister, she loves hanging out with her family in her free time.
“I’m really fortunate to still have my parents around and have the opportunity to spend any time with my family, especially after this last year with Covid-19,” Susan said. “We try to see each other as much as we can.”