Jan 192016

Cindy Cookson

You may not always have noticed her. But if you’ve attended a Boston or New England Chapter meeting, gone to the InterChange conference or a workshop, sponsored an event, or contacted the Chapter with a dues issue any time in the past fifteen years, you’ve probably interacted with Cindy Cookson. After this month’s program Cindy is stepping down, and it seems like a good time to look back at her many contributions to the Chapter.

Since 2001 Cindy, an accountant by trade, has been the chapter’s bookkeeper and administrative assistant. She was not a volunteer but received a stipend. What did we get for our money? Cindy not only professionally maintained the Chapter’s financial accounts but took on many other roles as well. She regularly attended Council meetings as an institutional “memory” and advisor. She negotiated on our behalf with hotels and other venues for the best prices. She dealt with sponsors and advertisers. She handled dues and registrations for programs and events. And she sat at the registration table for almost every Chapter event.

Cindy Cookson and Hans Fenstermacher

Cindy with Hans Fenstermacher at the STACIs banquet, 2007

Several past Chapter presidents offered their recollections of Cindy’s tenure, starting with Hans Fenstermacher (2001–2002), Cindy’s former boss at ArchiText, who brought her on board. “Back then,” he said, “the Boston Chapter was doing well, but we had great ambitions and we knew we needed our financial house in order. Enter Cindy with her spectacular attention to detail, organization, and oversight. Soon, we were financially sound, consistently managed, and on our way to becoming the largest chapter in the STC. Month after month, Cindy kept our reporting on track, greeted folks at the door with name tags, kept track of payments and receipts—and the occasional delinquency—and generally kept us running smoothly.”

Taryn Light (2002–2003) said Cindy “was always there for us, always supported us, and always offered advice to us. She will be greatly missed.”

Steve Greffenius (2007–2008) related that “Cindy was the friendly face welcoming you. She would be at that table at the other end of the lobby as I came in the front door, ready to say hello and check me off the list. The name tag would always be ready, too, and she made sure I had one. After that, I could walk into the meeting room with a smile, fully equipped for meeting new people.”

Cindy Cookson and Emily AlfsonRick Lippincott

Cindy with Emily Alfson at the InterChange conference, 2015

Pam Sarantos (2008–2009) said: “When I think of Cindy the first words that come to mind are dedicated, sincere, loyal, and hard working. She built relationships with vendors and voluntarily performed many tasks to help the Council meet its goals. She was extremely dedicated to our chapter, and our members benefitted greatly from her service.”

Rick Lippincott (2010–2011) said: “Cindy’s record keeping was exceptional. Chapter finances are one of the most important concerns of chapter leaders. Cindy’s service allowed the leaders to focus on other matters, knowing that her stewardship was accurate, complete, and secure. It will be difficult to replace her.”

How does Cindy herself recall her time with us? “If I had to pick one thing that stands out,” she said, “it would probably be the long-term support and friendship that so many Chapter members have shared since long before I came on board and continues to this day. It is wonderful to see the joy, hugs and laughter shared at meetings by those who have organized, managed and participated in the activities of this very vibrant Chapter for so many years.

Nancy Allison with Cindy at the Chapter end-of-year meeting, 2015

“I’ve also been impressed by the guidance and mentoring given by so many to those trying to enter into tech writing and those who have been laid off from positions. I don’t think I could count the number of people who have obtained jobs following up on leads and recommendations from other Chapter members. It is just one more indicator of the support our members give each other, even to non-members.”

Hans, her former boss, perhaps said it best: “We couldn’t have done it without you! Thank you for all your years of commitment, support, and hard work. And thank you, too, for your good humor and patience. May you have many wonderful years of retirement to enjoy the family and grandkids.”

Thanks, Cindy, for a job well done!