Lae’ l Hughes-Watkins is the University Archivist for the University of Maryland, in College Park. From 2013-2018 she served as the University Archivist at Kent State University, where her work included managing the Kent State May 4 Collection that documents the 1970 campus shootings by the Ohio National Guard during a protest against the Vietnam War. She also launched the Black Campus Movement project, an effort to document student activism and its impact on campus development in areas of curriculum, cultural activities, faculty, and admissions. Lae’l is a 2019 Mover and Shaker and received the 2018 Merit Award by the Society of American Archivists for her leadership in project STAND.

She is the creator of the reparative archive framework. Her research focuses on outreach to marginalized communities, documenting student activism within disenfranchised populations, and utilizing narratives of oppressed voices within the curricula of post-secondary education spaces. Her 2018 article, ‘Moving Toward a Reparative Archive: A Roadmap for a Holistic Approach to Disrupting Homogenous Histories in Academic Repositories and Creating Inclusive Spaces for Marginalized Voices,’ published in the Journal for Contemporary Archival Studies (JCAS), remains one of the most popular papers in the publication.

She is the Founder of Project STAND, the first-of-its-kind collaborative effort among archival repositories within academic institutions across the country to create an online portal, featuring analog and digital collections that document student activism that primarily focuses on Black and Brown communities and other historically underdocumented student populations. Project STAND has been recognized by the council for the Society of American Archivists (SAA) at the 2019 Annual Conference for its contributions to the archives profession.