Apr 232018
This entry is part 13 of 13 in the series Prez Says
Photo of Paul Duarte

STC New England President Paul Duarte

Hello, STC New England News readers,

It finally feels like spring in New England. I hope everyone has had the chance to spend time outdoors and experience the beautiful weather.

May 20 to 23 is the STC Summit in Orlando, Florida. Here, technical communicators from around the world meet to network, share ideas, and learn the latest trends in our profession. In addition, professionals are honored for their work in technical communication. I’d like to recognize three people, current and former members of our Chapter, who are recipients of the STC’s Distinguished Chapter Service Award: Richard Lippincott, Emily Alfson, and Pamela Sarantos. All three made great contributions to the Chapter—by serving on Council, volunteering in InterChange, and helping share the virtues of technical communication with others. Please join me in congratulating them on this achievement.

It’s not too late to join our lunch webinar with STC Philadelphia Metro on April 25th, “Slack for Technical Writers and Editors.” Please click the link to learn more about the event and to visit the Eventbrite page. There, you can purchase your ticket and learn how you can sign up for Slack for this webinar. This program will feature Ben Woelk and Sara Feldman presenting on this collaboration tool being used in many workplaces and other venues, allowing technical communicators and subject matter experts to collaborate more effectively. If you’re curious about Slack or want to pick up a new skill, please join us; we hope to see you there at lunch!

We’re still looking for volunteers for InterChange. We’ve received interest from some of you, but we need someone to help coordinate the conference. This person will ensure that the conference is properly planned and all the work is completed so that it is a success this October. This is a great opportunity to build project management skills, and someone who has a knack for event planning and organization would be a great fit. Please reach out to me at paulduarte@stcnewengland.org if you’re interested.

Also coming soon are Chapter elections. For the coming year, all officer positions will be up for vote: President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary, and we have room on our Council for more members. I will not seek another term as Chapter President; I will become Immediate Past President for 2018-2019. I encourage our members to run for Council. This is a great opportunity to build your leadership, teamwork, and communication skills, and your work can ensure the Chapter better serves the local technical communication community. We will send out nomination instructions over email, and we will reach out to nominees to confirm their candidacy. Then, we’ll have a vote in May and announce the new officers and Council Members in June.

If you’re going to the Summit, I wish you safe travels, and I hope it is a very enriching and enlightening experience for you. Please share your experiences with us when you return, and we’d love to feature your story on the Chapter’s News website next month.

Mar 072018
This entry is part 12 of 13 in the series Prez Says
Photo of Paul Duarte

STC New England President Paul Duarte

Hello, STC New England!

I’d like to take this time to welcome new and returning members for 2018. The New England chapter is the place to network, share ideas, and learn about technical communication in all six New England states, and we’re fortunate to have you as part of it. Continue reading »

Nov 132017
This entry is part 11 of 13 in the series Prez Says
Photo of Paul Duarte

STC New England President Paul Duarte

Hello, STC New England News readers!

Two weeks ago, the Chapter held its InterChange conference at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center in Lowell, Massachusetts. In the past, the Chapter held InterChange in late March or early April, but we thought it would be a nice change to hold the conference in the fall. That way, after attending STC’s Summit and other conferences, presenters could take what they learned from those events and come up with engaging programs and workshops at our chapter, so we could carry their ideas into our careers through the next year. Over 40 people attended this year and we had several hard-working volunteers behind the scenes. Thank you to everyone who attended and helped make InterChange a success!

It was a real pleasure to have members of STC Rochester attend. Ben Woelk, STC Rochester’s Co-Vice President and Conference Chair, noted in his keynote address how he, as an introvert, rose to leadership as a technical communicator and STC member. Now, through his consultant agency Introverted Leadership, Ben helps introverted technical writers find their voice so they can become better communicators and inspire other introverts to enter leadership or management tracks. He also gave a great workshop on Day Two of the conference, “Revive and Thrive: Temperament-based Strategies for Today’s Workplace,” in which attendees explored their personality types so they could understand why they behave the way they do and what they could do to perform better in the workplace.

InterChange ended with the presentation of the Landers-Carbrey community service award to former President Emily Alfson. This award combines two previous awards for the chapter, the Carol A. Landers Spirit of Volunteerism Award and the Edward J. Carbrey Jr. Scholarship, which became a single award in 2004.

Emily previously received this award in 2014, but the Council felt she was deserving of it for a second time because of all the work she continued to do for the New England Chapter after she relocated to her home state of Michigan that same year. Emily continued to serve on the Chapter Council through October of this year, and she was instrumental in organizing and presenting the last three InterChange conferences. The New England Chapter will miss her hard work and dedication; we wish her all the best of luck in her career.

Now that InterChange is in the books, I want to report on a few items of interest to our Chapter. First, while we have not had any formal programs or social hours this year, we are working on delivering higher-quality programs this year. The Chapter is arranging a program for December, and the Chapter will work with other professional associations in the Boston area for programs in early 2018. The Council does not have enough resources to plan and execute programs on its own. We need chapter members to join our Programs Committee; specifically we need volunteers who will help organize programs that present new ideas and skills to audiences—by finding engaging topics, speakers, and appropriate venues. Please let us know if you’re interested in helping plan programs at president@stcnewengland.org.

Secondly, the Chapter is exploring the idea of turning hosting of its main website and news website over to the international STC. In a recent conversation with Tim Esposito of STC Philadelphia Metro, he explained how chapters have successfully transitioned control of their websites over to the international society, which hosts sites based on WordPress. For example, the Philadelphia Metro Chapter’s website, http://www.stcpmc.org, is a paragon of minimalist, clean web design that adapts to both desktop and mobile devices. The switch would save a lot of money. In addition, the WordPress backend is easier to maintain. We really want to improve our Chapter’s website and give a positive experience to members and nonmembers alike. If you are interested in helping us build a new website based on WordPress, please let us know.

I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and hope to see everyone in December.

Feb 182017
This entry is part 9 of 13 in the series Prez Says
Photo of Paul Duarte

STC New England President Paul Duarte

As we move into February, I want to take time to thank the community we are a part of. The New England Chapter has almost 200 members, and we know many more people outside the chapter. Their participation in chapter events has been invaluable and has given us insight into how we can better provide for technical communicators, from creating programs and workshops to finding new ways to meet technical communicators in the region. To that end, I’d like to report on some community-building updates.

Headshot of Steven JongSTC

Our new Council member, Steve Jong

First, I’d like to welcome two people to our Chapter Council. The first is Steve Jong, who previously served on the Chapter Council and was President of the Chapter. Steve heads our Mentoring Program, where experienced technical communicators can give advice and direction to people who are entering the profession or need guidance in their careers so they can advance to where they want or need to be. In addition, Steve has done a phenomenal job taking pictures at our monthly programs and updating the Chapter’s News website with articles on those programs and other events. The Council is proud to have him back on board.

Headshot of Jason Dickey

Our new Treasurer, Jason Dickey

Second, Jason Dickey has been elected Treasurer. Jason has attended many of our programs and has served on the financial committees of other volunteer organizations. He showed the initiative to volunteer at the end of the November program in Canton, Mass., and the Chapter Council unanimously voted him in. We’re lucky to have Jason on board and we look forward to working with him in keeping up with the Chapter’s finances.

We have two programs that involve expanding our community. Last Wednesday, at Champions Sports Bar and Grill in Cambridge, Mass., was our monthly Scribbling Tipplers meeting, where technical communicators discussed their jobs after work and mingled with their colleagues. This Wednesday, February 22nd, we will meet with Ed Marshall in Bedford, Mass. to see his ideas on how to effectively work remotely with colleagues and collaborate with remote teams to complete work on time and with quality.

We’re going to host InterChange 2017 at the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center in Lowell, Mass. on October 20th and 21st, 2017. Having the conference in the fall gives us an opportunity to meet people who may otherwise miss it due to other professional commitments in the spring. It also gives us a chance to meet technical communication students who are just starting another year in their studies. We will be putting out a call for presentations and speakers in due time, and we have some new ideas for events that we think you will enjoy.

Enjoy the rest of the winter, and here’s hoping for a beautiful spring in March!

Jan 062017
This entry is part 8 of 13 in the series Prez Says
Photo of Paul Duarte

Paul Duarte

Hello, STC New England members, fellow STC members, and non-members, welcome to 2017. I’m Paul Duarte, the new president of the New England chapter, and I would like to make my first address a request for help.

I am humbled to be in this position. Just two and a half years ago, I was introduced to this chapter while I was a still a graduate student. I’ve had the chance to serve on the Council for over a year, help set up programs, and serve as Vice President, and now I am President. This chapter has really helped me become the young professional I am today and I want to help continue the amazing work and move the profession forward.

Since our Immediate Past President, Nancy Allison, stepped down last summer, the Council has been trying to run the chapter with a reduced headcount. We have no official committees set up, and the Vice President, Treasury and Secretary roles are vacant, which means that the Council has to do more administrative and program work with fewer people and on an “ad hoc” basis.

We skipped September’s program and Scribbling Tipplers, held November’s program after Thanksgiving, and we’re going to cancel this month’s program as well. Also, due to the reduced resources and time constraints, InterChange will be held in September or October, as opposed to March or April.

I have a vision that the New England Chapter can serve technical communicators beyond our immediate membership. We can include people who work in this region, who interact with technical communication in all its forms, to share ideas and come up with new measures to help others in their careers, or help people transition into new careers by adding to the skills they already have.

I’m reaching out to you to ask you for your help to move the profession forward and to grow our community of technical communicators in New England. Here’s what we need to bring the chapter back to full operation:

  • Vice President
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • At least one more Council Member
  • Volunteers for the following committees:
    • Programs (including InterChange)
    • Membership Outreach
    • Website/IT Management
    • News Website & Newsletter Writers
    • Advertising and Sponsorship
  • Mentor Program participants (Mentors)

Descriptions for these positions are in the Chapter Bylaws.

We need to fill our officer positions immediately. Without them, the chapter cannot function effectively. We need a Treasurer who can monitor the finances and a Secretary who can be responsible for the chapter’s correspondence and meeting records. We also need at least one more Council member, so we have at least four people contributing ideas to the chapter’s programs, outreach, and goals for the year. All officers and Council members meet on the first Wednesday of each month to discuss the chapter’s progress and to plan new events and activities for technical communicators in our region.

In addition, we need volunteers for the committees listed above. These are the lifeblood of our community. They are a way for us to network with each other, meet new members, and share knowledge so that we can take it to our jobs and careers.

All of the above positions are a great way to build or hone skills outside your job or classes, and they require no more time than you want to put into them. If you’re interested in any of these roles, please contact me at paulduarte@stcnewengland.org and discuss what role you want to volunteer for. I’ll be glad to hear from you and I’ll invite you to the next Council meeting, on February 1, 2017, where you can meet the other officers and the chapter Council. Do keep in mind, officer positions must be filled by current STC members registered with the New England  Chapter.

Sep 082014
This entry is part 7 of 13 in the series Prez Says

Nancy Allison

First, let me introduce myself, because I’m the new steward of “The Prez Says” blog — I’m Nancy Allison and I’ll be writing both for and to you for the next STC year.

I’ve been in technical communication for 30 years, and it has been a rewarding ride! I started teaching English as a Second Language, but found that there were few full-time jobs paying a living wage. I needed more consistency than that, and I’d also found that I enjoyed writing teaching materials more than I enjoyed being at the head of a classroom. Someone mentioned technical writing to me, I took one evening course, got hired as an intern, and I was on my way! The fields of teaching ESL and tech writing may seem fairly far apart, but the commitment to successful communication underlies them both.

Of the past 30 years, I’ve spent about 8 as a full-time employee, and 22 as a freelancer. In the years that I freelanced, my greatest professional pleasure was meeting new people, learning a little about different technologies, and avoiding the politics and pressures that come with a full-time job. Now that I’m a full-timer, I find that the pleasure of working on things long-term, and getting to know people well, greatly outweigh the pressures that I feared. There is a real reward in staying in one place long enough to watch initiatives develop over the long haul.

Over the past few years, I got involved in another long-term project: STC New England. If you had told me two years ago that I’d be President of the chapter this year, I would have told you to dream on! But there was a need, and I thought it was worth responding to. With the great council members we have this year, I can’t go wrong.

Our theme this year is “Building Careers, Building Community” and I passionately believe in the importance of helping each other — one of the greatest rewards I receive from working with STC is to look around a room after a program and see clusters of people talking animatedly with each other, and know that I helped make it happen. Another is our monthly Council meetings, when we get through scads of work in two hours, with lots of laughter and high spirits. Our meetings are open, by the way, and they’re always listed on the main page of www.stcnewengland.org. Come and join us — let us know ahead of time, so we can feed you dinner!

All of the services and benefits STC New England provides are done in order to strengthen careers in technical communication, and help people to know and rely on each other. That’s why we work on these initiatives:

  • Monthly programs
  • Workshops
  • Scribbling Tipplers social hour
  • Documentation Competition
  • Spring Conference
  • Outreach to students, employers, and potential members
  • Expansion of our websites and social media reach

All of this activity is for your benefit, so please help yourself to these offerings! Come to a council meeting, join a committee, email me with your ideas — get involved! I look forward to meeting you at an event this coming year.

Jun 152014
This entry is part 6 of 13 in the series Prez Says

2013-2014 has been a banner year for STC New England. Under Emily Alfson’s inspired leadership, we’ve brought back both the competitions and Interchange! In October, we celebrated STC’s 60th birthday with a groundbreaking program that blended the creativity of technical communication with science fiction. Our programs have been well attended and well received, and we’ve extended our reach globally by offering webinars to enchance most live presentations. The Job Bank keeps a constant stream of new job offerings, and the STC New England News web site came online last fall.

You have responded to these offerings with interest and enthusiasm, and you are the reason the Council of STC New England works so hard. Our entire purpose is to offer professional support to our members in the form of learning opportunities (monthly programs, workshops, Interchange), services (the Job Bank, the news site, and the competitions), and professional outreach (student outreach), and networking (all of the above, plus Scribbling Tipplers).

How We Do It
You might be surprised to find out how few people pulled off all this work: Most of the time, a core of two or at most three determined people was involved in each project.

They did it because:

  • They knew technical communicators in New England could use an infusion of professional support
  • They are personally committed to strengthening our profession.
  • Most of the time, they had fun doing it.

And finally,

  • They had the leadership and support of Emily Alfson, who encouraged us when a more timid leader might have pulled back. Emily’s vision for the Council was instrumental in everything we achieved.

As the new STC New England President, I will continue these initiatives and strengthen our reach. If you have been excited by any of them and want to contribute, please get in touch with me or any Council member, and we will be glad discuss your interests and possible time commitment.

A New Initiative: Speakers’ Boot Camp
Keep your eyes open for a new initiative that is dear to my heart: Speakers’ Boot Camp. I want to help a new generation of people develop professional presentations that they can deliver to STC New England and other organizations as well. If you’ve thought about presenting, but have never had a strong reason to work up a presentation, Speakers’ Boot Camp is for you! Please consider saving a Saturday in October for this workshop – and stay tuned, more information will be coming in the summer!

Elections Are Coming
In the next few weeks, we will be holding an online election for Council members. If you are interested in serving as a Council member, or as a volunteer who is not formally on the Council, please get in touch with any Council member. We will be glad to hear from you.

Come to the Celebration
On June 18, we will hold an end of year celebration at Waxy O’Connor’s in Lexington, MA. Come to hear about the past year, think about the coming year, network, and have some fun. We will have dinner and an open bar. If you haven’t come to a program so far this year, come to this one! It will be a relaxed, happy gathering, and everyone there will understand your tech-writer jokes!

See you there!

Jun 012014
This entry is part 5 of 13 in the series Prez Says

It is bittersweet for me to announce that I am relocating to Detroit, Michigan for a new opportunity, and leaving Boston and the New England Chapter of the STC.  I will hand over the presidency to the capable hands of Nancy Allison one month early, passing the gavel at the May program meeting. I have a new challenge waiting for me with a new company, and a city and a state that could use a helping hand. It is an exciting time, but also a little sad to leave a place that has become a second home.

Before I go, I want to share how I came to be here in the first place. In 2006, I was transferred from St Louis, Missouri to Billerica, for my job at APC. I knew one person in the area when I moved, and my tech pubs team was located in Denmark, so I was quite on my own in this strange place. I was lucky enough to have my company send me to the 2006 STC Summit, so I ventured to Las Vegas, won $300 in the casinos, and met a few people along the way.

In the elevator at Bally’s, one of passengers saw my name tag, which included my new city of residence, Nashua, New Hampshire. He mentioned that he was president of the Boston chapter of the STC and invited me to attend a meeting. As a new resident, anything “in Boston” meant getting lost, suffering through horrible traffic jams, and taking my life into my hands driving with the locals.  I gave it little thought and moved on.  Later at the conference, at the Honors Banquet, I recognized the man and went to say hello.  While I chatted with the people at the Boston chapter table, some crazy guy with a camera snapped this photo.

Greg and Emily in 2006

Flash forward to 2014.  The New England chapter stepped up its social media presence, and Immediate Past President Rick Lippincott posted a link to his Flickr photo album of the 2004 Summit on the New England Facebook page.  While browsing through the photos, I stumbled upon a picture of myself, sitting at a table with Greg Bartlett.

Never burn bridges, they say.  You never know where you path will take you.  Good advice, though overused, and often ignored. In this case, it was true. I had no idea that eight years later, I would be attending the Summit again, this time also in the desert, in Phoenix, Arizona, representing the New England Chapter as President, receiving a Community of Excellence Award with my fellow chapter members.  One of whom was Rick Lippincott, the guy who took the photo in 2006.

Community of Excellence Award, 2013 New England Chapter

In two weeks I will be starting a new adventure, this time in my home state of Michigan. I expected to stay in New England for two, maybe three years, and it’s been almost nine. I’ve been fortunate to meet many wonderful people, and a good deal of them through the Boston, Northern New England, and now the New England chapters of the STC. It has been a pleasure to connect with so many wonderful people, and talented colleagues. I will miss you all.

I will continue my role as Immediate Past President remotely and will continue to contribute to the New England chapter, and start will volunteering with the Southeast Michigan Chapter of the STC in the fall.

There is no need to say goodbye. Instead, I will see you soon.

Mar 202014
This entry is part 4 of 13 in the series Prez Says

This year, 2014, is the busiest and most active that this STC chapter has seen in a long time. All of this is possible because of the very hard work of a few individuals. The Council has been working hard since the Crossover meeting last August to put on all of these events for our chapter and for the technical communicators of New England. The entire Council has been hard at work this year and it shows with all of the chapter’s accomplishments.

The majority of this effort is done behind the scenes. The many hours of meetings and phone calls, of problem solving and debating, the flood of emails that come when a new challenge arises … it is a lot of work. Why do we do it? Because the rewards are worth it. There is satisfaction in working on a team and working toward goals and finally accomplishing those goals. We are working together toward a greater good for all of us. It doesn’t hurt that John caters our Council meetings with amazing homemade gourmet food. The food is really, really good.

I want to shed some light on all of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes and tell you about a few of your Council members who have been working hard.

Kurt KroberKurt Kroeber volunteered to join the Council and to chair the 2013 Technical Communication Competition. Kurt had been involved with the competitions in the past, but since they had been dormant for several years, he had to rebuild and reorganize the whole production. With a few guides along the way (thank you, Mark Decker and Mike Nelson) he organized the competitions and coordinated the training and judging locations for the Online competition. I helped out with the Technical Publications category. The result was a successful competition with local entries and entries submitted from throughout the country. Kurt put in a tremendous amount of time and work into the competitions, and we are both happy to wrap up the year with the Awards Presentation at the March chapter program.

Nancy AllisonNancy Allison jumped into her Vice presidency with energy and vigor and true dedication to improving the chapter program meetings, finding new and interesting speakers, and reaching out to our wider audience with webinars. She has worked tirelessly this year to put the most successful programs that the chapter has hosted in many years. In addition to the monthly meetings, she also coordinated with Ed Marshall to put on two sold-out workshops in the fall. Nancy has also been volunteering her time to the Interchange committee, and is gearing up to run the chapter elections in the spring.

John Sgammato

John Sgammato has become the webmaster, a membership crusader, and the personal chef of the council meetings. He started the Scribbling Tipplers social hour and cultivated it into a huge success. He caters each council meeting with gourmet, homemade, and delicious meals, and hosts us at the office where he works. John has focused a lot of his efforts on maintaining and building our membership, he has convinced some former members to return and has brought many brand-new faces to our events. His efforts are mostly behind the scenes, but the results are visible in the growing audience at our events!

Rick Lippincott

Rick Lippincott has served on the Council for many years now, including two as President (he was the last president of the Boston Chapter and the first president of the New England Chapter), and two as Immediate Past President. Just when we thought he might want some time off, he volunteered to run Interchange! This year, he is growing Interchange into a two-day event with an impressive list of speakers. Over the years, he has guided this chapter through some lean times, through a merger, and into the growing organization that we are today. Rick was also a pioneer in Social Media for our chapter, he often posts as the @STCNewEngland on Twitter.

Art Campbell Art Campbell created the STC New England News Site that you are reading right now. Initially, the Council wanted to bring back a newsletter and Art’s suggestion was to modernize the idea of a newsletter and created this dynamic News site for the chapter. (It is also a great opportunity for us to learn WordPress, a valuable skill that looks good on a resume. Another example of the behind-the-scene-benefit you get in STC NE — you learn new technical skills that might apply to your job or your next job.)