Vol 44, Issue 5

May/June 2005

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Leadership Transition Meeting

by Cindy Pao, Information Developer, BMC Software, Inc.
Each year STC Houston holds a leadership transition meeting in June. This year the meeting falls on June 25.

Have you ever been to a leadership transition meeting? If you answered “no,” I recommend that you check it out this year.

At the meeting you can find out what STC Houston did this year and what we hope to do next year. You can give the new leaders feedback, suggestions, and ideas for areas of interest for our community.

Most importantly, you can sign up to help (yes, volunteer) the chapter accomplish its goals next year.

“Volunteering is for suckers”

I heard this phrase once a long time ago. Conveniently, I mostly forget it when it comes to volunteering for things.

Not only am I the president of our community, I’m also a registered Girl Scout leader, and I do as much as I can at my kids’ schools.

For me, volunteering is about how I can help others. Can I help the girls in my daughter’s troop learn how to cook outdoors? Yes. Can I read Dr. Seuss books to my son’s daycare class? Yes to that, too.
For STC Houston, can I help our members learn and become better technical communicators? Well, I’m darn sure trying.

Meeting agenda

The meeting will go something like this:

• accomplishments for 2004—2005
• high-level plans for 2005—2006
• review of the community strategic plan
• breakout sessions to plan for 2005—2006

Of course, at some point during the day, this year’s administrative council will hand off their files to next year’s council. That’s the transition part.

Don’t be shy! Join us!

I invite you to attend the leadership transition meeting.
This is your opportunity to tell us how we can help you become or remain a technical communicator in Houston.
This is also your chance to help the community provide what you need.

Meeting details

I’m still working on the location. As I finalize the details for the meeting, I’ll post e-mails to the chapter mailing list and also post details on the community web site. Keep your eyes peeled for the exact bat-location and bat-time! Until then, if you need me, send an e-mail to president@stc-houston.org.

Changes Approved for Houston Chapter Bylaws

by Deborah Long, Technical Editor, BMC Software Business School

At the monthly membership meeting on April 12, 2005, proposed changes to our chapter bylaws were ratified by those who voted in person and by those who voted by proxy. Houston Chapter President Cindy Pao and the Administrative Council gave their approval, as well. The following list summarizes the revisions that were passed:

•  New titles of vice president and senior vice president replace the existing titles of director and vice president.

•  Existing chapter administrative policies and procedures are clarified for


 selecting a Nominating committee for chapter elections


 presenting a slate of nominees for chapter offices to chapter members


 conducting elections


 tabulating votes

•  The number of chapter meetings was changed to at least the minimum number of meetings required by Society bylaws. 

•  Guidelines are strengthened and clarified for


 managing chapter funds


 the financial responsibilities of Administrative Council members in the selection of a financial institution in which to deposit chapter funds and in the authorization of budgets, expenses, and disbursements

•  The duties and requirements are clarified for the chapter treasurer and council members in maintaining financial records and issuing financial reports.

•  A non-chapter-affiliated auditor is required to perform an annual audit of chapter funds.

Thanks go to members for voting and to the Bylaws and Teller committee (Deborah Silvi, Deborah Long, Paul Mueller, Pat Bishop, and Jim Hunt) for their work.

March Program Meeting: “Survival Skills for the 21 st Century”

by Deborah Long, Technical Editor, BMC Software Business School

In case you have not noticed, the theme of this program year has been “survival of the fittest”—how to promote yourself in today's competitive job market. STC Houston's March meeting continued in this vein with guest speaker Tom Benwell, president and CEO of Argus Advisory Group, Inc. A business coach and survivor of many acquisitions and mergers, Tom gave us his perspective on the changing business environment that encompasses people, technology, and information. And, according to his first-hand observations, change is not slowing down?in fact, it is accelerating!

The state of constant change creates stress, which we must all learn how to deal with if we are to adjust in a healthy manner. This means “setting it aside” during the course of a day and taking vacations so that we do not break under the pressure. While we are at work, Tom advised that we play the game—whatever your corporation's game may be. First, figure out the rules, and then play by them if you want to succeed. It beats acting like a victim! The last thing you want to do is become mentally exhausted and disengaged from the workplace.

Tom went on to discuss the four major survival skills: courage, connections, creativity, and commitment. All things considered, each of us must ultimately take care of herself or himself, rather than depend on our companies to do so. This might amount to finding the right work and life balance, taking a lateral promotion, or pursuing some other measure to slow down the stress. Managing our emotions “intelligently” is yet another strategy when trying to accept difficult, often painful changes. Responding appropriately (logically) and picking the right battles are essential to keeping a positive attitude. Then again, it's OK to have a fierce conversation to show your passion about the values you hold dear. All the while, keep mutual trust and respect going.

Sound complicated? On a lighter note, Tom recommended the book “Bang!: Getting Your Message Heard in a Noisy World,” by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval, to stimulate creativity. Enthusiasm is one of the emotions that we need to summon, remembering to have fun even in difficult situations. And finally, give 100% to your commitments to achieve the satisfaction of being the best at whatever you do.

Now that we have an awareness of some helpful tools, we just have to make a survival plan and stick to it! To find out more about Argus Advisory Group, go to www.argus-advisory-group.com.

Jocelyn Williams and Cindy Pao award George Slaughter the Distinguished Chapter Service Award

Deborah Silvi and Jim Hunt talk about bylaws

Melanie G. Flanders and Pat Bishop have been named STC Associate Fellows!



Cindy Pao awards Wayne Schmadeka the Distinguished Chapter Service Award


New Members

Leslie Biggs

In September 2004, Leslie moved to Houston from Austin, where she was employed as Sr. Technical Writer for the National Job Corps Data Center. At Job Corps, Leslie created online help files, user manuals, and PowerPoint presentations for national employees. Before employment with Job Corps, she worked for Hillcast Technologies, also in Austin, TX, as a technical writer.

She is currently employed in the non-profit sector with SEARCH, a resource center that provides job training and career development for Houston's homeless. She develops marketing materials and grants, and works with donor relations and the database software. Leslie wears many hats and loves the variety of work that she does.

Blake Bourquad

Blake has been a tech writer for two years. He graduated from Louisiana State University in 2003 with a B.A. in English. He works for APPRO Systems, Inc., a producer of loan origination software, in Baton Rouge, LA. He creates online help, marketing and corporate communications materials, instructional materials (printed and online), and does requirements design.

Erika Guerra

Erika, a student member of STC, is a graduate student at the University of St. Thomas, working on a master's degree in communications. Her bachelor's degree is in English from Texas A&M. She would like to explore career opportunities in technical writing in engineering or oil and gas, and will be completing a medical writing internship in at the end of April.

Before attending school in College Station, she grew up in the one-stop-light town of Cotulla, TX. She has lived in Houston for a little over a year and is looking forward to meeting everyone in the Houston chapter and learning the best steps to a career in technical communications.

Kim Johnson

Kim lives in Seattle, WA, but plans to move to Houston in the near future. For the past year, she has worked at Seattle Central Community College as a grant writer and project manager. She has a BA in English from Spelman College (Atlanta, GA) and an MS in Technical Communication from the University of Washington (Seattle, WA).

Kim is interested in web content writing/editing, web design, instructional design, project management, and fundraising.

Amber Berry

Amber has been in the technical communication industry for as long as she's had her current job, which will be one year on April 26. She graduated from Louisiana State University in ISDS (Information Systems and Decision Sciences) in June 2003. She says that her studies prepared her for work in the technical industry, but she never thought she would be writing about it for a living. But when she saw the opening for the position, she couldn't pass it up.

Like Blake Bourquad, Amber is a technical writer for APPRO Systems, Inc., in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Amy Pieri

Amy is a graduate student in the University of Houston-Downtown's Master of Science in Professional Writing and Technical Communication program. She hopes to graduate in May, 2006.

Before entering school, she worked in the social service sector supporting people with disabilities and their families. She hopes to return to work in this sector with a new skill set after graduation.

New Senior Members

by Cindy Pao, Information Developer, BMC Software, Inc.

According to the STC bylaws, the grade of senior member is conferred upon those who have held the grade of member for five consecutive years. The following STC Houston members have recently achieved senior member status:

•Ragna Case
•Kate Compton
•Veronica Jordan
•Terry Lambert
•Nancy Landahl
•Patricia Mitchell
•Michael Steinbach

Congratulations on this achievement!

Copyright © 2006 Houston Chapter, Society for Technical Communication
P.O. Box 42051, Houston, TX 77242-2051 | 713-706-3434