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Q&A: Deborah Henderson, new DAMA Foundation president

Deborah Henderson was elected the new president of the Data Management Association (DAMA) Foundation in July 2006. Henderson is an information governance architect with CapGemini at General Motors and has been a member of DAMA since 1992. Like all members and officers, she volunteers her time with DAMA, notably holding multiple roles as president of the DAMA Foundation and vice president of education for both DAMA International and the DAMA Foundation.

The DAMA Foundation is a fundraising organization that supports the efforts of the nonprofit DAMA International. The group raises funds through grants, donations and other means and aims to support the advancement of the data management profession through research and development. Founded in 1986, DAMA International has 64 affiliated regional chapters in 19 countries, according to its Web site. It regularly publishes papers and organizes speaking engagements, and it puts on three annual events.

What is your background in data management?
I have my masters in library science, so I come at it from a semi-structured or unstructured point of view. I moved from library science into records management in the IT space in 1988. Then I moved into the data modeling space, up through data architecture to the project lead, lead data architect, and information governance architect I am today. How does DAMA International use the funds that the DAMA Foundation raises?
We are lining up a publisher that will take on all of the types of work we want to publish, including starting up a professional journal. We have just self-published an exam guide that supports our certification program. We are in the middle of defining the strategy to deliver the data management body of knowledge (DMBOK), which is going to be a published work and also an online work as it develops. And we are constantly writing papers for various conferences. What are some of your top goals as the DAMA Foundation president?
My top goal is to articulate the introduction to the DMBOK within a year. That's an ambitious goal -- but I'm very encouraged in that we have already published the DMBOK framework. It's on our Web site for download and comment. It's this framework that we will then populate with what we know to be true in data management. Now, it's quite ambitious -- but I'm heartened by the fact that when I started this and discussed the idea with the Chicago DAMA chapter in December last year, it was only from December to the end of March that we struggled with the framework -- a framework that would encompass all the topics in data management. We published that in four months, which is just astounding to me. What that says to me is that there is a lot of pent-up excitement and we, as a profession, are really ready for this piece of work. How will people use the DMBOK?

For more on the Data Management Association (DAMA)
Learn what attendees at the DAMA 2006 conference said about data management trends
Read a Q&A with John Zachman, creator of the Zachman Framework and member of the DAMA International board of advisers
It can be used by people who are trying to write about topics in the data management space in order to push the envelope of our knowledge and fill in gaps that now aren't covered in the framework. People might also use it as a guideline to publish papers and books that support the DAMA curriculum framework. Our curriculum framework will then support developing courses to be taught to students. Students will be able to graduate with a better knowledge of data management and be exam-ready for our certification at the practitioner's level. The certification alerts employers to a certain competency level and guides and supports practitioners in their job hunting and career ladders. It's a fully formed idea of how -- from education to professional life to publication stream -- we need to articulate our space. How long will it take to publish the DMBOK?
To see the whole vision articulated, it will be a multi-year, multi-pronged task. We will have to get solid funding in order to do this on a global basis. I believe that moving from this DMBOK framework to a set of books, to actually templating the work we do in order to make it standardized, will ultimately have us sitting at the table with the rest of IT like never before. You aren't "sitting at the table" with IT now?
Right now, many of us feel detached from the rest of IT. We are a group of people that deal with things that "don't plug in the wall." There's isolation there and a lack of understanding as to what we do. All of these pieces play into our ability to communicate better what we are and that we are professionals. Why is it important to participate in organizations like DAMA?
One of our long-term goals is to influence our future and the future of the profession. As new technologies come around we have to know how to respond to them and to build up best practices. For instance, service-oriented architectures require data services. Gartner says data architects must evolve or die. We have to be proactive and help our constituents respond to these new technologies.

DAMA members and other data management professionals -- we want to hear from you! is here for you. We are always interested in your thoughts, ideas and comments about data management and our site. We also want to broaden our community of contributing writers, data management experts and professionals to interview for case studies and articles. Please email us anytime!
Another thing that we are concerned about is governments all over the world becoming more concerned with regulation of professionals. We believe that data managers may be regulated in 10 years for ethical and other reasons, and we want to do it first. Another thing we want to do is influence governments to understand who we are in the field, how many of us are out there [DAMA estimates that there are 100,000 data management professionals in the U.S. alone], and what the career definitions are, and in general to support statistics-gathering on our profession -- which has so many ramifications for employment/unemployment, employers' awareness and our own IT brothers' and sisters' awareness of who we are and what we do. To that end, we're working right now with the U.S. Department of Labor to reset how they build employment statistics in our area.

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