Steven Jong, Candidate for STC Secretary

Candidate’s Statement

By Steven Jong, Candidate for STC Secretary

photo of Steven Jong
Steven Jong

Thanks for your consideration! I’d like to tell you a little about my background, describe the secretary’s role and why I’m a good fit for it, and list what I see as the Society’s issues and my ideas to help.

My Background

In 30 years as a technical communicator, I’ve done a little bit of everything, including editing, illustrating, and training, but mainly writing and managing. Currently I work as a documentation manager.

Outside of work I’ve written professional papers, magazine and newspaper articles, fiction, poetry, and a trade paperback. I’ve designed and delivered courses, seminars, and workshops, in the US and Europe, on technical and professional subjects. I’ve been a law-school instructor, a freelance proofreader for the Dummies Press, and a compositor for an academic book. Finally, I’ve led three other non-profit organizations (including a stint as secretary).

I’m an active member of the Boston chapter. For nearly 20 years I’ve served the chapter competitions as a judge, lead judge, best of show judge, and judge trainer. In 2001 I was elected to Boston’s administrative council. Then in 2002 I was elected second vice president, and served in automatic succession as first vice president, president, and immediate past president. During that time Boston won three chapter Awards of Distinction. I was given Boston’s Landers/Carbrey Spirit of Volunteerism award in 2007. I also belong to the Northern New England chapter, the Management SIG, and the Information Design SIG.

At the Society level, I am in the final year of my term on the Board of Directors. I am the chair of the Certification Task Force. I’ve participated in the International Technical Publications Competitions as a judge, lead judge, and best-of-show judge. And I’ve presented at eight annual conferences.

The Secretary’s Role

Unlike other Board positions, the Secretary must be highly organized and detail oriented. The Secretary assembles and distributes the agenda and materials before meetings, and of course takes minutes. But a good secretary also keeps the group on agenda, manages time, and reminds people of previous actions and decisions.

Additionally, the Secretary is a voting board member, and as such must have a strategic focus. Not everyone can think strategically. You can’t micromanage; you have to set goals and directions for the good of the Society a whole, and leave implementation to the staff or volunteers.

Society Issues

I’ve seen enormous changes in the field. Today we may be called upon to create documents, Web content, video, or podcasts. We do so much more than writing! Yet the core skills of technical communication have not changed at all: we still learn a technical subject, determine our target audience’s needs, and communicate just what they need to know as clearly and concisely as possible.

Today, STC’s biggest issue is existential: will we be around next year? We’ve taken huge steps, and I think the answer is yes, but we’re not out of the woods yet. We need to rebuild our membership base, and to do that we need to tap into new demographics and new areas of practice.

I think there’s a communication gap between the Society, chapters, and members that needs to be addressed. Our relationships need repair.

Finally, we need for STC to set the standards in the field for everyone — practitioners, clients, and consumers alike.

I have a three-prong platform:

  • Speed: I want to collect and post information faster, both before Board meetings for directors and afterwards for members.
  • Transparency: I want to share as much information with members as we can within the legal constraints on an association.
  • Communication: I’ve seen first-hand how messages can be both miscommunicated and misinterpreted. I want to ensure that we send out a steady, clear, and consistent message on multiple channels, including our Web site, our blog, and appropriate social media. Also, I think community secretaries need the same kind of support that community presidents and treasurers get now, and I’ll work to establish that channel.

Summary

I have a great deal of relevant experience, not just at the chapter and Society level but also in other non-profits. I’ve worked with good secretaries and bad, and I know what’s important in the role. I am a process- and detail-oriented person, which are critical traits in a secretary. And I’ve been able to observe the excellent example set by Char James-Tanny, so I already know what to do.

For more information, go to www.StevenJong.net

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Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication. STC member since 1974.