Vol 44, Issue 4

March/April 2005


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STC's 52nd Annual Conference Registration Rates

STC 's 52nd Annual Conference will be held in Seattle, Washington, May 8–11, 2005. Members can register for the conference by using the form provided in the Preliminary Program, which will be mailed with the February issue of Intercom, or online at www.stc.org. Online registration is not yet open.

Full-conference and one-day registration rates are listed below. The last day to register for the conference at the advance rates is April 22, 2005.

 

 

Advance

On site
(after April 22
)

Member

 

495

570

Nonmember

 

655

730

Student or Retired

 

120

175

Member, One Day

 

255

330

Nonmember, One Day

 

335

410

Student or Retired, One Day

 

120

175

Complimentary Membership for Nonmember Conference Attendees

Nonmembers who register at the full conference rate for STC's 52nd Annual Conference, to be held May 8–11, 2005, in Seattle, Washington, will be invited to join STC free for the remainder of 2005. The STC office will include an application for a complimentary membership with the conference registration confirmation receipt letter.

A nonmember can return an application to the Society office by mail or fax; a drop box will also be available at on-site registration at the conference. The deadline to return the application to the STC office by mail or fax is June 30, 2005. The sooner nonmembers forward their applications, the sooner they can take advantage of STC's many services and benefits.

Don't Lose Touch with STC

The Society office encourages all STC members to update their membership information with home addresses, home phone numbers, and home e-mail addresses. Many members provide only their work contact information, and the office often loses track of these members when they change jobs.

To update your membership information, complete the STC address change form at www.stc.org/formAddressChange.asp or contact the office at (703) 522-4114.

Procedures for STC's 2005 Election

The annual STC election will be held in early 2005, and only members who have paid their dues by February 28, 2005, will be eligible to vote. An option on the dues renewal forms and new membership applications for 2005 allows members to receive their election materials via e-mail. In March, members who selected this option will be e-mailed the slate, candidate biographies, and voting instructions. Members who did not select this option will receive these materials by first-class mail. The election closes at noon, eastern time, on April 15. Be sure to renew by February 28 to have a say in STC's future!

Paula Berger, Candidate for 2nd Vice President

by Paula Berger

I want to thank the STC membership for giving me this opportunity to run for 2nd Vice President. Many people asked me to run for this office because STC and our profession need strong leaders. I have been a voice for change and progress in STC for years, I have a clear vision of where our profession and our society need to be, and I have the strength and willingness to lead us through these changes.

This article presents my views on the major issues that STC must address. The ballot materials and the candidate information printed in Intercom offer a brief summary of these issues. You can read more about my views, my STC experience, and my professional experience at www.paulaberger.com.

Providing Better Value to Members

Membership has dropped in recent years, partly because members and employers no longer believe STC provides enough value. We must re-engage technical communicators by redefining and improving our services. This is a major goal of STC's Transformation.

One of STC's primary duties is to foster the career growth of members by defining and supporting career paths they can follow in their own discipline or related ones. Our activities and offerings must focus on lifelong professional development.

  • STC must increase educational opportunities for both newcomers and for senior members. We need to add educational offerings that focus on advanced skills for advanced practitioners.
  • STC needs to develop comprehensive, industry-supported training programs that provides clear value to members and employers. Our strong special interest groups should work with education and industry experts to define curricula for basic and advanced certificates in their disciplines.
  • Webinar topics and other educational offerings must be part of a coherent training structure, with the value of each topic defined in context of the focused training programs.

STC's financial arrangements must respond to the day-to-day concerns of members. Our membership fees must be appropriate and manageable. We must provide additional financial value to members, such as STC discounts on software products and reduced prices at an online bookstore. We should also partner with other associations to offer reciprocal discounts on events and membership.

Promoting the Technical Communication Profession

STC must embrace the multi-disciplinary nature of technical communication. Our diversity is a positive sign that our profession is evolving and we must welcome and support the many disciplines that constitute technical communication. As one society with communities from many related disciplines, we can take advantage of the stronger voice we have because of our diversity.

We must truly lead the profession, promoting best practices and educating the public, employers, and industry about the importance, usefulness, and diversity of technical communication. We must define where technical communication fits in the global business landscape of 2005 and beyond. To better define and increase our business value, we should solicit high-level industry leaders to join a new STC Board of Advisors.

Greater corporate support is key to STC's future. We must aggressively solicit support from companies that understand the benefits of a strong technical communication profession. We must promote corporate sponsorships for education programs, scholarships, and even specific recognition awards.

We must have a strong global presence and actively pursue new members and corporate involvement outside the U.S. Working outside the U.S. and belonging to a chapter in Europe for several years has helped me understand the global business of technical communication.

Other societies exist to support many of the technical communication discipline–user experience, information design, and more. STC needs to look outside its boundaries and interact with other societies. We must build alliances with them, arranging reciprocal discounts on events, offering shared educational offerings, and perhaps even holding joint conferences.

Supporting STC's Communities

Communities have always been a real strength of STC. While many associations boast strong networks, STC is truly unique in the quality of the relationships that members form. Our members are committed professionals who care a great deal about what they do and about each other. STC has been a wonderful part of my personal and business life, with many STC members I consider both colleagues and friends.

We must nurture all our communities and help them thrive. “Seasoned” STC members usually have close ties to their chapters. Now, more people have also developed close ties to virtual communities. All our communities have great value and need to be supported fairly and equitably.

Our annual conference is an important part of the society year and offers wonderful networking opportunities. We can strengthen the conference by updating our approach to reflect our changing community structure. It may be time to align the conference stems with the special interest groups and have these communities take responsibility for defining the offerings in their stems. Perhaps our smaller conferences throughout the year can be based on disciplines and run by larger interest groups, either instead of or in conjunction with regional conferences.

We must also provide society-wide technology solutions that simplify community operations and communication, such as portals, job banks, event listings, online classes, and forums. We must provide additional training and support for community leaders, particularly in light of the proposed changes to the sponsor role.

Improving Our Management of STC

It is no secret that we need some internal changes in STC. The Transformation is a good start, but the STC Board needs to communicate better than it has. The Board needs to listen to members, to invite participation in discussions and decisions, and to explain what the Board is doing. If I am elected, sharing information will be one of my key priorities.

We need to improve our management of the society's resources. STC needs to “open the books” to a greater degree, allowing members to understand how the society's resources are used. We also need to be sure we are deriving the maximum benefit from the STC office and directing them effectively.

Another area for change is the election process. Very few STC members vote, because our election process does not foster member involvement or bring issues into discussion. We should evaluate alternatives, such as requiring all potential candidates to submit petition signatures showing demonstrating member support.

Please Vote

STC is at a crossroads. We need leaders who are not afraid to take the more difficult path if it leads to greater benefits. Please give me the chance to help STC help us all. Thank you.

My Thoughts about STC

by Linda L. Oestreich, 2005 Candidate, STC 2nd Vice-President

Hi, I'm Linda Oestreich, a 2005 candidate for 2nd Vice-President of the Society for Technical Communications. I have been an active, dedicated member of STC since 1979. In 1996, I was honored by the Society with the title of Fellow. For the past three years, I have served on the Society's Board of Directors as Director-Sponsor of Region 5. This article is my way of helping you understand my passion for STC. After reading it, I hope you will vote for me in the upcoming elections. For more information, please visit my website at http://users4.ev1.net/~lloriter.

Relationships and Communities

Our profession and our Society are about relationships and communities. Merriam-Webster says relationship means [the state of] “having an aspect or quality (as resemblance) that connects two or more things or parts as being or belonging or working together or as being of the same kind.” Sounds like a bunch of STCers, doesn't it?

Many of you know that the Society is now referring to our chapters and SIGs as communities . One Merriam-Webster definition of community is “a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society.” Change the word living to working, and we have a perfect fit!

Relationships naturally exist within communities. And communities exist to help their members, to provide support, and to offer growth. Communities have relationships with other communities. STC is about the relationships within, among, and between communities and the individuals in those communities. It is the relationships of the Society that have kept me a member and leader for more than 20 years. If you have heard me speak, you know that I love my work in STC, but even more than that, I love helping others find their passion for STC.

STC helps us be better at what we do. In these days of change, outsourcing, and offshoring, the global community needs us. Technical communication is necessary. As long as we have technology and change, we will need good technical communicators who can provide bridges to understanding.

I believe in the STC community. I believe that the Society provides a path for our success. Just as the work we do provides the words and tools that promote better understanding, I believe that STC promotes excellence in that work. STC communities help us understand our work and ourselves.

A Two-Way Love Affair

Relationships need two-way energy. They need feedback and they need care. I have loved STC for many years, and I have worked hard to be part of its success. STC has loved me back with opportunities. It has provided new employment, higher salary levels, and lifelong friendships that I treasure. I want to be 2nd Vice-President and ultimately President of this Society because I believe in the Society and its members. However, just as we have changed, I believe the Society must change.

I want our Society to be known and respected by industry, by academe, by government, and by everyday people. I want STC to be a recognized acronym—even with people who have never written a users guide, a journal article, a research grant, or a help file. I want our spouses, our children, and our parents to understand the value we bring to the world. We, as members of the Society, can make that happen through better marketing, varied and accessible educational programs, enthusiastic grass root activities, and strong communities. I believe my leadership can help make that happen. As a Society leader, my job is to help ensure that the Society provides you with value.

I will do all I can to make my belief in this Society contagious. However, as a member of the Society, you also must nurture your STC relationships. You can make those relationships strong and reciprocal or weak and unavailable. I am passionate about STC. I believe that passion will help me lead the Society with wisdom and integrity. I hope you believe so, too.

Jackie Damrau Running for Region 5 Director-Sponsor

by Jackie Damrau, Senior Member, Lone Star Community

The elections for the nation have just ended. Candidates won and candidates lost. STC elections are just gearing up with the candidates announced for the various positions available. As one of the nominees selected to run for the position of Region 5 Director-Sponsor, I'd like to provide you with a brief background of myself and four reasons to vote for me as your Director-Sponsor.

My Background

I actually began in STC back in the mid-1980s by becoming a nonactive member of the Kachina chapter. As my son was born, I had to make a decision to let my membership lapse. I returned to STC during the 1993 STC 40th Annual Conference. From 1993 to 1998, I was inactive as I was progressing through my educational pursuits. In 1999, my life opened up and I slowly became involved with the Lone Star Chapter (LSC). Since that time, I have grown in my knowledge, experience, and leadership skills. I'm currently serving as the LSC president with my term ending in May 2005. I am a member of the Competitions and Public Relations committees, as well as Contributing Editor for Technically Write.

At the Society level, I have served as an international publications judge (2000–2003), a Technical Communication book reviewer (2003–present), an ID&L and Management SIG core team member; and a Management SIG core team member and its Managing Newsletter Editor.

My STC awards include one chapter Technical Publications competition award, two chapter newsletter awards, and two Chapter of Distinction awards.

I have a Doctorate in Business Administration from California Coast University, Santa Ana, California, and an MBA from Amberton University, Garland, Texas . I have held positions from a legal secretary to a technical writer/trainer to an instructional designer/developer. I have worked in the government, public and private sectors, as well as in academia. Industry knowledge spans from photovoltaic research & development to telecommunications to business soft skills training to animated multimedia training help solutions.

Here are the reasons I feel that you should vote for me.

Reason #1: Transformation

Vote for me because I believe in and support the Transformation initiative. Overall, I feel that this change is necessary for the Society to remain a vibrant, functioning professional organization. Change never comes easy!

As the Society continues on its transformation path, I'll be there for all the Region 5 chapters, communities, and special interest groups (communities of practice) to help you go through this transition as painlessly as possible. With effective leadership and member willingness, we can meet this with open arms. I'll be your elected spokesperson to raise your concerns and try to get answers from the Board and Society.

Remember, I have your interests at heart, as well as that of my own community.

Reason #2: Member Value

The Society has taken the first step in providing member value by implementing its tier level membership dues. Personally, I believe that the Classic membership is one that we all should select. Yet, in today's economy, dollars are shorter, so I can accept that members may opt to enroll for one of the other membership plans.

I am an 11-year-old STC member. You can ask me as a burgeoning teenager if I feel that all my needs have been met by the Society. I'd say partially. I feel that the Society can do more in the way of improving member value. What specifically that is depends upon each individual member and what he or she values most in a professional organization.

I'll work on your behalf to inform the Society of your thoughts for what you feel they can do to provide you with member value. Some of your needs may be addressed by the Transformation initiative stages. It never hurts to ask if things that you want are under consideration.

Reason #3: Educational Opportunities

I believe the Society can do more within the educational arena. I'm interested in your thoughts on what STC itself can offer to you, but I'm also interested in how you feel the Society can increase educational opportunities within our own region. We have loads of talent in our own backyards and are not using it enough. One of my goals is to find out how many of you are interested in leading a Webinar for the Region 5 members (with corporate sponsor support) where we can share information on products, techniques, leadership, and so on.

Reason #4: Communication

Communication is the key element in our profession. We are always writing documentation or creating web sites that provide the right message to the right audience. As your Director-Sponsor, I will be glad to visit your chapters (on a pre-arranged schedule), participate in conferences at the chapter or regional level, and write columns for publication in your newsletters.

In the role of Director-Sponsor, I'll be communicating often with the chapter presidents, student members, and SIG managers. These members will be the main point of communication. However, I encourage any member within the Region 5 area to contact me to discuss your views and opinions. You can also feel free to use me as your sounding board.

Finally, I encourage you to vote in the upcoming election. I believe our field is important and that STC does make a difference. I'm ready to make major contributions of time and effort to help STC go through its transformation and to promote STC as a premier technical communication organization.

You can also visit my website ( http://web2.airmail.net/jdamrau3 ) to find out more about me and why I feel I'm qualified to represent your chapters or communities.

Sherry Michaels, Candidate for Director of Region 5

by Sherry Michaels, President, Michaels & Associates

If you live outside the Phoenix area, you may not know me. I'm Sherry Michaels, President of the Phoenix Chapter community, and President of Michaels & Associates, a business that develops content for technical documentation and training. I am also a candidate for Director, Region 5, seeking your vote.

The necessary statistical data for worthiness of each candidate is on the ballots. I remember looking at those ballots and trying to make my own decisions. For whom will you vote? Perhaps you think voting doesn't have very much to do with you, and that voting doesn't have much impact. It does! Whether or not you do vote for me (and I hope you do), I urge you to vote and take the biggest and most important step to active involvement in your professional association. Voting is an under-rated activity, your right, and a sure way to ensure positive change, or to ensure things continue on the track you feel is appropriate.

Seven or eight years ago, I was a “silent majority” member of STC in the Chicago Chapter. I moved from the Chicago area to the Phoenix area and started a business. I felt intensely isolated. Unlike my experience in Chicago, I found relationships in the Phoenix area form slowly through volunteer efforts. The Phoenix Chapter community was a friendly, open community in which I believed I could contribute. My original intention was merely to network, perform some small but productive services, and build my company. I believe enlightened self-interest is a healthy, symbiotic way to contribute to a professional association. Through volunteering, I experience the rewards of modeling good business partner behaviors among my peers. There is a synergy that develops out of volunteering for STC. Volunteer synergy is why I am on the slate as a nominee for Director of Region 5, and why I am asking for your vote and your support.

I began by volunteering to help someone who was managing the community membership committee. Within two months, the committee manager left and became a member of a rock band. With little precedent, I had no idea what I was doing, so I started analytically and logically. I worked to recruit new members, becoming acutely aware that member retention was critical. After about two years, the Phoenix Chapter community administrative council voted the membership committee manager to become part of the administrative council with a voting role. Increasingly, I became active on several other committees, many of which had to do with education. Two years ago the Phoenix Chapter nominations committee approached me to be president of the chapter. After hesitation born of sheer terror, I agreed and was slated, then voted in. I have been president for a year and a half.

Transformation, Education and Communication

For some people, those who always liked the way things were, transformations are frightening or uncomfortable. For others, transformations take too long to complete. There is usually a larger, “in-between” group that is too busy to care about association transformation, even though it is their association. STC must accommodate all members, regardless of the transformation group in which they belong.

In the Phoenix Chapter community, we took the attitude that we'd decide how to best align the transformation with what we already had underway. Thanks to years of previously good leadership, there was very little to “fix.” The real job was to encourage people to keep doing things that were working. As President, I believed the key to member growth and member value was member retention. I wanted to improve our retention rate, because I know in business that “new customers” are more expensive to attract than taking care of your existing customers. The corollary for STC is that new members are more expensive to attract than existing members are to retain. While we make an effort to attract new members, why not form specific programs aimed at retaining existing members?

How, as Region 5 Director, will I handle the Transformation? I'll listen to the presidents, the councils, the members–you. I'll be a resource to the presidents to help their chapters through the next phase. There are communities that are robust, and need only support. The communities that need help will get it; strategic assists, a helpful hand, advice when it's wanted, information where it is needed. When we get information at the regional level, I'll work with the presidents to determine in each of their situations what to do with it, how to get alignment for each community.

Member Value

I often think about value, from the STC International standpoint, from the community standpoint, and from the standpoint of a business owner. An association (or business) succeeds by fulfilling the value proposition. Some technical communicators don't realize how much value there is to STC, locally and internationally. With Phoenix members Kathy Graden and Gloria McConnell, I developed a comparison of association costs across several organizations similar to STC, published in Tieline. The comparison research clearly demonstrates the superior value proposition STC offers. This example illustrates that I take a proactive approach to my roles. As Director, I'll help get information to you that you just haven't had time to get for yourself.

I ask for your vote because for me, it has always been about the members, about the value, and about how we can become stronger technical communicators to the hiring world. It's a passion that I back with a history of working for my own community and with the desire to participate with each of you as you work within yours. For further information, I have a toll free number at the company web site at www.docntrain.com . E-mail me at sherry.michaels@docntrain.com or call any time.

One more thing: check out what's in your community to do to become further involved. It's never too late to explore volunteer synergy!

 

Doug Woestendiek, Candidate for STC Treasurer

by Doug Woestendiek, Director of Software Architecture at Marketing Management Analytics

My name is Doug Woestendiek. I have been active in STC in a variety of roles, from the local chapter to the international level. Since 2001, I have had the honor to serve on the Society Board of Directors as the Assistant to the President for Technology. I was Special Events Coordinator at the STC Annual Conference in 1996. I have presented and moderated sessions at several Annual Conferences, and I have worked with stem managers as a peer reviewer for annual conference proposals. During my career, I have been a member of the Mid-Hudson Valley, Austin TX, Twin Cities, and Central CT Chapters. I served as the Mid-Hudson Valley chapter newsletter editor.

I would like the opportunity to continue my service to the STC as your Treasurer. The STC Treasurer has a dual role, working as the CFO for the Society and as a member of the Board. I have the necessary experience in both those roles.

Experience

I received my BS and MS in Mathematics of Operation Research and Statistics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, with a Management Minor. I later earned a Human Computer Interaction (HCI) Certificate from RPI. I hold several Technical Achievement Awards from IBM, including intellectual property and publication awards. In 1995, I received a Distinguished Technical Communication award in the Northern California Technical Communication's STC Competition.

I am a member of the American Society for Quality (ASQ). In 2004, I became an ASQ certified six sigma black belt. I believe I can apply this skill to the financial processes of the STC.

I have the direct financial experience needed for this role. Since 2002, I have been Treasurer and Finance Manager for a $16M+ valuation private property corporation. I have also served that group as VP and Director. During my career, I have managed budgets over $10M and have reengineered financial processes.

I also bring the knowledge needed to be an effective member of the STC Board. I have worked in large international companies and small companies. I have led major projects, worked collaboratively with competitors, and represented views to industry forums.

Early in my career, I led IBM's documentation team in the COSE CDE (Common Desktop Environment) project. This was a joint development effort with HP, Sun, and Novell, involving online help, hardcopy, and softcopy documentation. I also represented IBM in the Open Group Single UNIX Documentation project.

From 1999-2004, I was a Senior IT Architect in Financial Systems at IBM. I focused on emerging technology and e-business strategies across the worldwide portfolio of IBM finance applications. I was the lead technical architect on the Finance Portal, which served as the conduit for web-enabled Finance applications and as a productivity tool for IBM's 10,000 worldwide Finance employees.

As a Senior IT Architect at IBM, I re-engineered financial processes and systems. I also helped recommend and implement a Sarbanes Oxley solution for IBM which IBM now markets to other companies. (Sarbanes-Oxley is a bill passed by Congress which forever changes the financial reporting landscape. It mandates numerous changes to financial reporting, intended to protect investors by improving the accuracy and reliability of corporate disclosures made pursuant to the securities laws.)

I am now the Director of Software Architecture at Marketing Management Analytics (MMA), responsible for the overall architecture of our Avista solution, holding an $11M+ direct development budget.

Plans

Our industry is changing. From the outsourcing of jobs to the state of the global economy in the area of technology, the world we live and work in is changing. And it is changing FAST. STC needs to continue to change too. During the change, we as a Society must re-evaluate our spending and ensure it is aligned with our member needs.

It's an exciting time for STC as it transforms to provide better value to its members. I can provide fiscal oversight to the society, ensuring sound processes and adequate controls are in place. I can assist the board in making wise financial decisions. I will manage the budget prudently and make it clear to the members how money is being spent.

The Society must become more nimble in reacting to trends. We must put policies in place so we can adjust quickly to provide programs that add value for our members and address their changing needs in a fiscally responsible manner.

I would like the opportunity to continue my service to the STC by continuing on the Board as the new STC Treasurer. I want to help ensure that the STC remains relevant to our members, and that STC uses our combined fiscal resources to deliver meaningful value to members in their professional lives.

You can learn more about me at http://hometown.aol.com/dougwoestendiek.

Please take the time to vote! Thanks.

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P.O. Box 42051, Houston, TX 77242-2051 | 713-706-3434
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