STC WDC in the Spotlight

Did you know all of this about us? It was published on 12/3/09 in STC's Notebook. Thanks to Lina Scorza for the excellent PR!

When did your chapter originate?

The Washington, DC chapter is one of the oldest chapters in the STC. It was founded in 1955. At the time, its parent organization was the Association of Technical Writers and Editors (ATWE). In 1957 ATWE merged with the Society of Technical Writers to form the Society of Technical Writers and Editors (STWE). STWE merged with the L.A.-based Technical Publishing Society in 1960 to become the Society of Technical Writers and Publishers (STWP). In 1971, STWP's name was changed to the Society for Technical Communication.

What is the number of members?

428 as of October 2009.

Who makes up your Chapter leadership?

Marylyn King, President
Lina Scorza, First Vice President
Melissa Brown, Second Vice President
Amanda Meeker, Secretary
Linda Budinski, Treasurer
Steve Whitney, At-Large Director
Cynthia Lockley, At-Large Director

Provide a one-sentence description of your chapter.

The Washington, DC chapter provides education, networking, and job placement assistance services to technical communication professionals and employers in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, and recognizes excellence through our awards program.

What types of technical communicators are prevalent in your chapter?

The technical communicators in our chapter work in: software development, government contracts, proposal writing, training, usability, and online help development. They work in diverse fields including advertising, computer manufacturing, data processing, education, electronics, engineering, government, medicine, publishing, and research. Our chapter members work for government agencies, prominent professional and technical firms, and institutions, such as the Department of Defense, the Department of Labor, NASA, the National Institute of Health, Booz Allen & Hamilton, Lockheed Martin, and the World Bank, among many others.

Describe a generic chapter meeting.

The Washington, DC chapter holds monthly event meetings from September to June. Our events have a variety of formats—networking get-togethers, talks given by expert speakers, panel discussions, skills workshops, educational webinars, annual chapter technical communication competitions, and awards banquets.

The chapter events feature talks about trends and issues in technical communication and provide professional development and networking opportunities.

A typical meeting starts off with registration and networking. Then, the chapter President or one of the other chapter officers welcomes the attendees, makes job and other announcements, and introduces the speaker or speakers. The program follows. Depending on the format, food is available before the program starts or during the program itself, when the event is a lunch or dinner, such as the traditional holiday party in December.

How is your Chapter "DC"? How is it not?

Our chapter is "DC" ("a capital chapter" as we like to call it) in a number of ways:

It was chartered in Washington, DC and its purpose is to serve the needs of technical communicators in the greater Washington, DC, area. The chapter logo and all images on the chapter website reflect the "DC" nature of the chapter. Most members of our chapter live and work in Washington, DC, and its suburbs.

At the same time, the chapter is not "DC" in that its purpose and programs transcend the boundaries of our nation’s capital and its suburbs. It is a typical STC chapter—with its activities, issues, and concerns. Our competition routinely gets entries from international companies, such as LG. Members from other chapters participate in our chapter’s competition.

Who’s your funniest member and why?

While we have many members who are witty and make people laugh, it’s hard to judge who is the funniest among them. However, one chapter member made people laugh for a living—Mary R. Wise. When she was still a young girl, Mary joined a circus and worked as a clown. She recently published a novel, called Girl Clown, based on these experiences. (Mary is an STC Fellow and has served as the President of STC.)

Who’s your smartest member and why?

All of our members are smart. They were smart enough to join our chapter and to realize the networking and other opportunities chapter membership provides. Our volunteers are the smartest! By volunteering they make the most of their membership. Volunteering is fun and provides the volunteers with opportunities to get experience and skills that they can use to develop their careers. For example, the managers of the various committees get to meet a lot of people and gain management experience.

How about most talented overall?

Our chapter has many talented members. The awards that our members win are objective evidence of the talent that we have. I am proud to share several recent outstanding achievements of members of our chapter this year:

In June, Cynthia A. Lockely and Susan Kleimann won Grand Awards in the 2009 APEX® Publications Excellence Competition:

  • Cynthia won the award for redesigning our chapter’s website.
  • Susan Kleimann of the Kleimann Communication Group, Inc., Washington, DC, won the award for their Good Faith Estimate Form.

In May, Kleimann Communication Group, Inc., won the Best of Show award in the STC International Technical Publications Competition for their entry titled, "Putting Theory into Practice: A Best Practices Approach to Developing Tax Instructions." The contributors to this report were: Dr. Rita Roosevelt, Rasika Krishna, Eric Spears, and Erin Schmieder.

Broadway makes a musical about your Chapter. What would the title and what would the hit song be?Finally, brag a little bit, about anything you want.

In 2009 our chapter won STC’s Community of Distinction Award. The award recognizes a chapter’s outstanding accomplishments towards the goals of STC. It is presented only to chapters that have distinguished themselves by exceeding ordinary expectations. The award was granted for the chapter’s collaboration with related organizations, unique membership promotion, use of social networking to increase community visibility, and extremely accessible website transformation.

This award was added to other awards that our chapter has won in previous years:

  • Excellence in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, and 2008
  • Merit in 2003
  • Outstanding Achievement in 1988
  • Chapter Pacesetter Award in 2003 and 1995

Our chapter was also granted these awards:

  • STC Newsletter Competition Awards:
    • Excellence in 2002, 2004, 2006
    • Merit in 1986, 2000, 2003
    • Achievement in 1997
  • STC Public Relations Competition Awards:
    • Excellence in 2002
    • Distinguished in 2000
    • Outstanding Performance in 1986
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I'm a technical communication consultant working primarily in the bioinformatics field and also designing and delivering training classes on 508 compliance for electronic documents. I have been involved with the STC Washington, DC - Baltimore chapter since 1994 and am an STC Fellow.