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Publications > Dateline Houston > March 2003 > Society & Industry News

Volume 42, Issue 7

March 2003

Society & Industry News

STC News

STC Announces Fellows and Associate Fellows for 2003

The highest rank that the Society for Technical Communication can confer upon a member is that of fellow. Those who become fellows are associate fellows who have attained such eminence in the arts and sciences of technical communication that they are designated among the select few whose service has distinguished both the Society and the profession.


  • Paula R. Berger-TransAlpine Chapter
  • Ann Wilson Buttram-East Tennessee Chapter
  • Donald H. Cunningham-Birmingham Chapter
  • Lance R. Gelein-Sacramento Chapter
  • Marguerite Krupp-Boston Chapter
  • Lynnette R. Porter-SpaceTech Chapter
  • Donna M. Sakson-Puget Sound Chapter
  • Daniel E. Wise-Birmingham Chapter

Associate Fellows

  • Thomas Barker-Texas Tech University Student Chapter
  • Deborah S. Bosley-Metrolina Chapter
  • Rebecca E. Burnett-Iowa State University Student Chapter
  • Martha D. Collins-Suncoast Chapter
  • Marjorie T. Davis-Mercer University Student Chapter
  • Charles D. Fisher-Washington, DC Chapter
  • Douglas Florzak-Chicago Chapter
  • Jean C. Gabriel-Orange County Chapter
  • Mark Hanigan-Suncoast Chapter
  • Hillary Hart-Austin Chapter
  • Brenda P. Huettner-Southern Arizona Chapter
  • Michael A. Hughes-Atlanta Chapter
  • Norman Lambert-St. Louis Chapter
  • Eugene S. Larson-Atlanta Chapter
  • Suzanna Laurent-Oklahoma Chapter
  • Betsy M. Maaks-Chicago Chapter
  • Mary Sue MacNealy-Mid-South Chapter
  • Betty M. Montgomery-Washington, DC Chapter
  • Neil E. Perlin-Boston Chapter
  • Michelle Ratcliffe-Suncoast Chapter
  • Kay Robart-Austin Chapter
  • Jerilynne V. Sander-Hoosier Chapter

STC recognizes and honors deserving senior members by conferring upon them the rank of associate fellow. Those selected as associate fellows are exceptional individuals who have demonstrated a consistent pattern of meaningful contributions to the Society and to the profession over a period of years.

STC's new fellows and associate fellows will be honored at STC's 50th Annual Conference, May 18-21, 2003, in Dallas, Texas. An honors banquet will be held on

Tuesday, May 20. (An honors reception will precede the banquet at 6 PM.) Tickets for the banquet and reception are $40 and can be purchased using the conference registration form included in the Preliminary Program, which was mailed with the March issue of Intercom, or online at

Suzanna Laurent Runs for Second Vice President

Editor's Note: STC holds its elections every spring and allows candidates to submit position statements to chapter newsletters. Dateline Houston does not endorse any candidates but encourages all STC Houston members to read the statements and participate in the elections.

While visiting Detroit's Henry Ford Museum, I learned about Ford and the automobile he made so successful. Many people have the mistaken idea that Henry Ford was an inventor, but Ford did not invent the automobile. He didn't even "invent" the assembly line.

So what did Henry Ford do? He learned from other people's experiences as well as his own. He took risks. He saw failure as a lesson, and he applied everything he learned to improve the product, the process, and the policies that shaped the American automobile industry. In short, he was a great innovator. And because he was so willing to share the lessons he learned, he became an inspiration to many others.

I am running for second vice president because, in my own way, I want to do as Henry Ford did--learn from other people's experiences as well as his own. I want to use the lessons that I have learned in 25 years of management and leadership positions to create solutions that will ensure that STC becomes an organization that is vital to the diverse careers of technical communicators.

One innovative thing I did as a director-sponsor (1999-2002) was to attend conferences and give chapter programs in every region to meet our members and listen to their ideas. As a result, I have presented 103 conference sessions, leadership workshops, and chapter programs in locations from Toronto to Hawaii. In addition, I have written 30 articles that have been published over 500 times in STC newsletters. This "listening tour" instilled a greater understanding of the unique challenges facing us, some of which are addressed in my articles.

While serving as director-sponsor, I gained a thorough understanding of the issues and concerns about STC at many levels. Working individually with leaders and other members is an invaluable experience that is crucial to being the most effective leader in the "presidential chain of offices."

Ford also took risks. Failing to be innovative and leaving the status quo is a risky business for STC and technical communicators. We must, as part of our role as technical communicators, show the value we add. We must continue to learn more, do more, and be more. It is important that STC become the premier organization for technical communicators. One way we can do that is by listening to what our members want, because the organization that best meets the needs of its members is the one that retains its members and attracts new ones.

Ford saw failure as a lesson, and he applied what he learned to make improvements. During the process of defining STC's brand, we discovered where we were making our mistakes and that we were not being perceived as we wanted to be, so we've made changes to correct some of those mistakes and misperceptions. As we seek new ways to prosper, we must improve our processes and the quality of our member services.

STC members work in more diversified environments than ever before, with experience, skills, and talents that vary widely. Nevertheless, we share the desire to be recognized for our contributions to the workplace. By more proactively promoting technical communication, I believe that STC can make a difference in the careers of our members.

There are other important strategies to consider as we seek to progress. To learn more about my experience and what I have contributed pertaining to these strategies, read the expanded version of this article at or contact me at .

With experienced leadership and guidance, STC can become the catalyst that enables technical communicators to achieve the professional status they have earned. When that is accomplished, we will have fulfilled my vision for STC to become an organization to which technical communicators feel membership is essential to their careers.

I would sincerely appreciate your vote for me as the next second vice president, because I firmly believe that when a collection of minds, hearts, and talents work together, great things can happen!

Deborah Sauer Runs for Second Vice President

Editor's Note: STC holds its elections every spring and allows candidates to submit position statements to chapter newsletters. Dateline Houston does not endorse any candidates but encourages all STC Houston members to read the statements and participate in the elections.

I started in this profession 20 years ago, and I still write user manuals. However, now I also develop Help systems, design user interfaces (UIs), and perform usability tests. I also provide training in skills (such as technical writing and editing) and tools (such as FrameMaker and RoboHelp) in public workshops, customized courses, and at universities. In addition, as an independent consultant, I make business decisions on a daily basis.

I have been an independent consultant for five years. I decided that to be successful, I needed to diversify in terms of clients, the technologies that they represented, and the tools that I used in my work. As a result, my work is far more interesting and rewarding than it was five years ago.

To research potential clients, I worked on the local STC chapter competitions and perused the winning entries at the awards banquet. I focused on companies taking new approaches to delivering content and developing innovative products. I actively pursued those companies as clients, many of whom I could connect with through STC relationships.

Now, my clients represent a variety of industries from computer chip manufacturers to consumer electronics companies. They range in size from 20 to 200,000 employees. Working with such varied clients has given me the opportunity to learn a broad range of business practices.

I can also directly attribute my business skills to my work for the STC. As president of the Boston chapter, I managed teams and budgets, made cold calls, and initiated the development of a chapter's strategic

plan. I then became involved in the STC annual conference--first as a stem manager, later as a program manager, and now as the assistant to the president for conferences. These roles have given me experience in managing projects and teams and in working with large budgets.

To expand my business, I decided to pursue UI design. I provided interface design feedback while documenting products. My contributions were seen as valuable in making products more usable and, therefore, less likely to be returned. Managers included me in design discussions, I included UI design on my resume, and, before long, UI design became part of the scope of the project when a client hired me.

Attending STC program meetings and sessions at the annual conference and brainstorming with colleagues has given me ideas as I look for innovative ways to deliver information. For example, I worked on a Web site that customers can tailor to their needs. I also developed a voice guidance system that talks the customer through procedures as they perform them.

It was this new approach to delivering information that brought home for me the global nature of my work. I received a cell phone call from my California-based product manager, who was in Singapore, telling me that he had played my voice guidance recordings at a board of directors meeting with representatives from Europe, India, Hong Kong, and the United States. That gave me perspective on just how far-reaching my work had become.

Over the years, I have worked in many capacities, both in the profession and in my STC roles. This variety of work enables me to view the challenges and opportunities that face the profession and the STC from a broad base of experience. I can provide the leadership needed to make sound business decisions as the STC creates programs to address the needs of our growing and diverse membership. Also, as a board member, I can offer a voice with multiple interests. The office of STC second vice president is an important one because the elected individual automatically becomes first vice president and then president of the Society. I hope you will consider giving me your vote.

Educational Opportunities

STC Telephone Seminar

Evaluating an Index (Even if You Have Only Five Minutes)

Speaker: Seth Maislin

Evaluating and editing an index requires careful consideration of all its clues. In this seminar we will discuss how to measure the effectiveness and accuracy of an index by looking at it whole, in select parts, and in the context of the documentation itself.

Specifically, we will look at:

    • Inclusion. Indexers can make opposite mistakes: they can overlook important concepts while also indexing indiscriminately. Learn how to find these errors quickly, and to estimate how much editing work might be required.
    • Depth. Subentries help readers distinguish similar concepts and connect related topics. When misused, however, they obscure the authors' message. Inappropriate structure is easily corrected, if you know what you're looking for.
    • Connectivity. Readers benefit from the connections between topics, such as subentries and cross references. The best conceptual associations can transcend the documentation and help an index to truly shine.
    • Format. Layouts and styles affect usability, of course, and consistency is important. But with indexes, blind obedience to a style sheet can get you into trouble. Know when to avoid certain formats, and how to make exceptions.
    • Language. Good authors choose their words carefully, but from an indexing perspective, the vocabularies of readers matter more. Try to think outside the authoring box, using cross-references and modifiers to control the language.


March 19, 2003


1:00 p.m.-2:30 p.m. eastern time

What Is a Telephone Seminar?

A telephone seminar is much like a large conference call, during which the speaker makes his or her presentation over the phone. You simply dial the 800 number from your phone, enter your personal identification number, and you're connected! You then sit back and listen to the presentations and join in the lively Q&A discussion.


    • No travel is necessary.
    • Pay per site and not per person.
    • Train within your office.


    • $145.00
    • An additional $10 will be charged for registrations received less than five business days before the seminar.

Sign up today at

Hard-Boiled Heroes and Cozy Cats: A Panel Discussion

Topic: What's It Like To Cross The Line? First-time novelists discuss what to expect when your book is published.


Mystery Writers of America, Southwest Chapter members Kay Finch, Leann Sweeney, Rosemary Poole-Carter, Barbara Colley, and Edgar-nominated Ben Rehder. Moderated by Julie Herman.


    • Rick Riordan, Edgar-winning author from San Antonio
    • Jane Friedman, managing editor of Writer's Digest magazine
    • Nancy Love, New York literary agent
    • Barbara Burnett Smith, Agatha-nominated author from Austin
    • Deborah Elliott-Upton, writing instructor at Amarillo College; short story and features author


Eager to test your skills at writing the dreaded synopsis? Enter our synopsis contest, open only to conference participants. Author of the best 5-to-7 page synopsis of a mystery novel will win a $100 prize.


Saturday, June 21, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with coffee and danish. Program starts at 9 a.m. To keep you going through the day, there's a full lunch.


Holiday Inn-Katy Freeway (I-10), Houston (just west of the 610 Loop, between Silber and Antoine)

Networking Opportunities

If you have a networking opportunity to share, please tell us! Go to

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