Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,
This month is a complicated one. I suspect I am not alone in having so much to say, yet with no clue about how to express it. But this wouldn’t be a very good opening if I didn’t try!
One year ago, on 12 June 2016, the collectively-beating heart of Orlando was thrown into cardiac arrest by a single person’s act of mass-cruelty and hatred at a place that had served as sanctuary for so many. The lives of 49 people were lost, and countless others were irrevocably changed.
That could have been the end of this story. Orlando, a tragic city whose Pulse was gone forever. But as the sun rose that morning, our community’s heartbeat came surging back—even while the hemorrhaging of our confusion and sorrow was at its peak. Officers on the scene and medical staff helped bring the immediate situation under control. Eligible donors stood in line for hours to give of their own blood. Volunteers, donations, and all forms of unimaginable support came pouring in from all over the world. Vigils, financial aid, and other services for those most affected became available shortly thereafter. We were Strong, and we were United. We rose to the occasion.
This week marks the one-year anniversary of the Pulse mass-shooting. Many wounds, both physical and emotional, are still in various stages of healing. Many will continue to be so for a long time. Many will leave lasting scars. But this week should also remind us of a time when we brought our hearts together, beating as One Orlando. This, too, will be a part of us for several years to come. Our newfound togetherness and overflowing love mark our true legacy. And that is why we will continue to persevere against the numerous challenges we face.
The STC (Orlando Central) Florida Chapter has a tradition every June. We hold a banquet to acknowledge our accomplishments during the past chapter year, and we look to the future as our newly elected officers take on their roles. It is a time of joy and congratulations over good food and beverages. But from now on, I also plan to think of every June banquet as a celebration of our amazing community in its entirety. The people who comprise not just our chapter, but also the broader community we serve, are the lifeblood that makes our home a special place to live.
This edition features a word from our Chapter President about the 2018 STC Summit in Orlando, a 2016 Financial Report from our Treasurer, a recap of May’s chapter meeting from our Secretary, and a piece about our chapter’s legacy (not to mention our future) from our Education Committee Manager.
This is our last issue before Memo to Members takes its scheduled summer break. When we resume in the fall, I will be a married man, and our chapter will be gearing up big-time to host the summit. I’m thrilled for the adventures that await just ahead!
Editor, Memo to Members
By: Alex Garcia
(Orlando Central) Florida Chapter, STC
My, how quickly time passes. We’ve reached the end of another illustrious chapter year. This spring saw the continuation of our series on ethics in the aerospace industry, an enlightening employment panel, a momentous joint meeting at UCF, and a foray into Tech Comm in the IT Industry. In the meantime, David Coe represented the STC (Orlando Central) Florida Chapter at the 64th annual STC Summit in Washington, D.C. As you read in this space last month, the Summit was quite the fulfilling experience.
Speaking of the Summit, we are now less than a year away from hosting the 2018 STC Summit right here in Orlando, FL. All eyes will be on the Orlando Central Florida Chapter to provide hospitality for the Summit. We need all the volunteers we can get. If interested in joining the Summit Committee, please drop me a line at email@example.com.
This Thursday we celebrate our chapter achievements, chapter elections, and officer transitions. I’d like to personally thank former Memo to Members Editor and outgoing chapter Secretary, RD Sharninghouse, for his years of service to the chapter. We will be sure to find a fulfilling role for RD in the years to come. Along the same lines, we celebrate the ascension of one of our illustrious students/new technical communicator members, Crystal Brezina, into chapter leadership. I expect great things from Crystal.
June and July represent our summer reprieve from STC. But fret not, your administrative council will hold its retreat in July to plan another exciting year of professional development programming, and of course, the Summit!
‘Til next year,
By: R.D. Sharninghouse
Orlando Central Florida Chapter, STC
On Thursday, May 25th, the Orlando Central Florida chapter of STC held their monthly meeting at the IHOP on University Boulevard.
Our guest speaker was the chapter’s Vice President, David Coe, who expanded on his Information Technology as a Career Path topic from April’s progression meeting at UCF. David went over ways to improve knowledge and gain experience in the information technology field. He also went over his experience from the 2017 Technical Communication Summit.
By: Bethany Aguad
(Orlando Central) Florida Chapter, STC
Time for an update from your friendly chapter treasurer! Last month, we submitted our 2016 Financial Report to the Society to show how we used our chapter funds for last year. Rather than boring you with numbers, I thought it would be helpful to walk you all through what we made, what we spent, and why it matters.
The STC Office provided community funding based on our number of members from the year, as usual. This has served as our primary source of income since we switched to a no-cost meeting strategy. If you are an STC member, make sure you have joined our chapter!
Amazon pass-through revenues and United Way contributions also served as major sources of income from the year. These contributions might seem small, but they really add up throughout the year. Use this pass-through link when making your Amazon purchases, and Amazon will rebate a percentage of what you spend to our chapter.
Last year, the STC Suncoast chapter merged with the chapter, bringing their bank balance with them. Since we also merged with the former Space Coast not long ago, our chapter has a broad membership base across the state of Florida. President Alex Garcia gave background on that merger in his President’s Corner last year. Our Administrative Council (AdCo) made the decision, along with former Suncoast leadership, to use some of this money to invest in equipment to improve remote access to our meetings and to expand our student-mentoring program. We are currently the sole chapter in the state, which gives us a lot of room to grow.
In the end, we started acquiring equipment for remote meetings with the purchase of a laptop to use with Meeting Burner. This allows us to share our meetings online with our members who live throughout the state. This investment has continued into 2017 with additional equipment purchases.
One other significant investment was in our students for the mentoring program. In 2016, we had enough pairings to justify multiple kick-off meetings and increased membership reimbursements. If you want to read more about outstanding success of that program, read the 2016-2017 Mentoring Program Recap.
We also had our usual chapter expenses for supplies, our mailbox, and meetings, particularly our annual leadership retreat. This is the annual meeting where we plan our chapter activities for the year. Never attended the leadership retreat? We would love to see you there this year. You can read about last year’s meeting in an MtM article from RD Sharninghouse.
Our final major expense was in community awards at our June banquet. These awards consist of recognitions from the President to members who went above and beyond for the chapter. However, the active member program is the highlight of our annual member recognitions. Throughout the year, chapter members are given points for activities they participate in with the chapter. The members receiving the highest point totals receive the coveted active member shirts. For more on how this program works and how you too can earn a shirt next year, check out W.C.’s article on the Active Member Program.
This financial report provides insight into what we are investing in as chapter and how we are striving to serve our members. We want to provide the greatest value possible for everyone, so that we can grow together as community. If you have any thoughts to share about this report, I would always be happy to .
By: Dan Voss
Education Committee Manager
(Orlando Central) Florida Chapter, STC
“When you think of leadership, you are actually thinking about influence. At its core, leadership is really about the influences on the people around you and the ability to move them in certain directions to obtain established goals or objectives.”
–Mike Murray, STC Fellow and three-time Orlando Chapter president
A couple months ago, OCF Chapter President Alex Garcia asked me, as Education Committee manager, to explore the possibility of establishing a Leadership Development Program (LDP) as an extension of our successful student mentoring program with UCF.
The idea is to pair veteran chapter leaders with our young “Rising Stars”—graduates, indeed, of that student mentoring program—to impart whatever wisdom we can as we approach or advance into retirement. Basically, we aim to capture some of the Brontosauruses’ (Brontosauri’s?) DNA to pass on to the young velociraptors before the legendary giants lumber off to sink forever into the tar pits.
It was an excellent idea, so as a Brontosaurus myself with one foot (well, paw, or whatever you call Brontosauri appendages) already in the tar pits, I agreed to take on the project. As I set about to establish the guidelines for the LDP, I realized the program would never be complete without STC Fellow Mike Murray, one of our most distinguished chapter leaders.
To refresh your memory (or to fill you in, in case you’re so young you don’t remember this—which, I must admit, I find rather depressing J), in 2002 Mike became vice president of an organization reeling from the combined impact of hosting the “Y2K” STC conference (now called the Summit) in Orlando, followed by an unfortunate year where both the chapter president and the vice president were overcome by events in their professional and personal lives and basically—well, shall we say, “abdicated.”
The chapter stumbled through that year. At the time, the Education Committee was practically the only functioning entity within the chapter, and Mike was a key member on it.
After the June year-end meeting at the Winter Park Golf Club club-house, Mike, W.C. Wiese, and I gathered for our own little “summit conference” on the porch of the clubhouse. We talked well into the night about how to reverse the chapter’s decline and revitalize it.
This was our “Yalta Conference.” Somewhere around 11 p.m., we struck a deal. W.C. (Stalin) would take on the presidency of the faltering organization if I, as Education Committee manager (Churchill), would “give” him Mike (Roosevelt) to be vice president. At first I demurred, because Mike was a mainstay on the committee. Ultimately, however, I realized that if there was no chapter, there would obviously be no Education Committee.
So I caved. And it worked.
With W.C. at the helm, making “dead-on” strategic decisions on how to allocate our then-limited resources, and Mike, as VP, lining up and promoting a series of slam-dunk, content-rich chapter meetings, we turned the corner.
That was in 2003. The next year, Mike became chapter president. The rest is history.
In his three-year “Reign of Terror,” Mike led a revitalized Orlando Chapter to three consecutive Community of Distinction Awards from the Society, working from a baseline of no awards at all—an accomplishment that has never been replicated by any other community.
I mean, talk about leadership! Mike personifies it.
I will never forget the first chapter meeting Mike presided over at the Winter Park Civic Center (our “old haunts”).
He took the podium, engaged the audience, and declared emphatically in his sonorous announcer’s voice—for decades the “Voice” of Dr. Phillips High School sporting events (that’s why his email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, by the way … chat with him; he’ll answer)—and calmly announced, “Welcome to the Orlando Chapter of STC, the fastest-growing and most dynamic chapter in the Society.”
In truth, at the time, that was hardly the case. Basically, Mike was “managing to expectations,” and, by golly, as an organization, we stepped up and met them.
Three years later, that statement was the literal truth. We had earned the then-competitive Community of Distinction Award in our size category all three years. We went on to claim an unprecedented nine Community of Distinction Awards, two Community-of-the-Year Awards, and two Pacesetter Awards—an achievement that will probably never be matched …not that I am competitive, of course. Perish the thought.
From those three amazing years come all the leadership strategies Mike will now contribute to the Leadership Development Program. Is there any doubt this program will inspire our young leaders to reach new heights of achievement?
Not in my mind, there isn’t.
Postscript: If you are wondering why this article does not provide any details on the upcoming LDP, that was deliberate. It’s a work in progress, and Mike is an integral part of that progress. But know this—the LDP to be unveiled at the chapter’s July Leadership Retreat will be another “Pacesetting” achievement for our community as we evolve into a true Pan-Florida chapter. We have some of the finest young talent in the Society in the process of assuming the chapter’s leadership.
As Mike observes, “When you are committed to excellence, failure is not an option.” Failure has never been an option for our community. And given the talent and commitment of our “Rising Stars,” coupled with the wisdom of those who’ve blazed a trail for them, it never will be.