Inside this issue:
Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,
As you might have noticed, our chapter logo has a new Spring in its step! After much hard work from our Treasurer Bethany Aguad and others, the long-awaited new logo was designed and approved in time for the 2018 STC Summit in May.
Isn’t it beautiful?
That’s not all that’s new. This April edition of Memo to Members is packed with exciting new developments for both our chapter and the Future Technical Communicators (FTC) club at the University of Central Florida (UCF).
First, the STC Florida Chapter recently unveiled some new resources, and a whole new program to boot! Our pilot year of the chapter’s new Leadership Development Program (LDP), a natural extension of our mentoring program, has just begun. Inseparable from the LDP, we have officially published STC Fellow Mike Murray’s Fast Start Leader’s Guide (FSLG). Plus, we now have an official Values Statement for our chapter!
Next, President Alex Garcia has some important reminders as the monumental occasion of the Orlando Summit draws closer. It is now only one month away!
Meanwhile, our chapter is introducing a new benefit for all student members to increase engagement from student members.
Speaking of our student members, The View from Campus reflects on the successful Spring semester while sharing news about the exciting plans ahead, including a new partnership to expand the opportunities available for technical communication students. Read on to find out more!
And finally, we would like to remind you of this month’s meeting. We invite you to join us on Thursday, April 19th at Bahama Breeze Waterford Lakes (1200 N Alafaya Trail, Orlando, FL 32828) for a night of techcomm networking and revelry, as we gather to honor award recipients and celebrate professional milestones:
* The UCF Foundation’s Melissa Pellegrin Memorial Scholarship
* The STC Distinguished Chapter Service Award
* The STC Distinguished Chapter Service Award for Students
* Retirement of STC Fellow and UCF Professor of English: Technical Communication Dr. Dan Jones
* Retirement of UCF Professor of English: Technical Communication Dr. Paul Dombrowski
Please click here to RSVP.
Sincerest thanks for reading,
Nick Ducharme and Emily Wells
Editors, Memo To Members
By: Alex Garcia
Florida Chapter, STC
Members and Friends of the Florida Chapter STC,
The 2018 STC Summit is only one month away. Can you believe it? If you are an STC student, you have an opportunity to attend the Summit for FREE, in exchange for some of your time.
In return for volunteering two out of four days at the STC Summit, you get free admission to all the sessions. There are positions Sunday May 20th through Wednesday May 23rd as room monitors or registration clerks. Students must complete the Student Volunteer Application Form to be considered for a position. Applications must be completed and sent to STC’s Education Manager, Deborah Krat, and the Student Volunteer Coordinator, Carolyn Klinger. As of press time, we need nine more volunteers.
Carolyn said “Even when a student is volunteering as a room monitor, I work with them to choose sessions to monitor that they wanted to attend anyway. All they need to do is count the heads and send the number to our group in the GroupMe app, offer help to the speaker, and sit back and enjoy. Note that this arrangement does not include preconference workshops. It does include continental breakfast Monday through Wednesday.”
Here is the full schedule of sessions: https://summit.stc.org/schedule/
And Registration is available at: https://summit.stc.org/conference/registration-rates/
Hope you can make it to the Summit; it truly is a once-in-a-lifetime networking opportunity!
Mentorship Program Expands to Include
a Creative Leadership Development Program
By: Dan Voss, STC Fellow and Education Committee Manager
and Mike Murray, STC Fellow and LDP Lead Coach
“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
It took seven months from vision to reality, but the STC Florida Chapter is proud to announce the inception of a new Leadership Development Program (LDP) named Passing the Torch. A natural extension of the community’s highly successful student mentoring program with the Future Technical Communicators (FTC) Club at the University of Central Florida (UCF), the LDP is designed to accelerate the growth of young leadership talent within the chapter.
Details on the creative new venture may be found under the “Education” tab on our chapter website, under “LDP” on the pull-down menu.
The launch of Passing the Torch coincides with the online publication of the heralded Fast-Start Leader’s Guide by Mike Murray (see related article in this edition of MtM). The product of years of work on Mike’s part, beginning when he was serving as a Society director and recently completed, the FSLG is an integral part of the LDP.
The LDP journey began last fall when Chapter President Alex Garcia asked the Education Committee to consider the possibility of creating a “Phase 2” to the student mentoring program focusing on accelerating the professional development of former students who have gone on to assume leadership positions within the chapter.
The task fell to us, Dan Voss and Mike Murray, to draw up a blueprint for the LDP, submit it to the Administrative Council for approval, identify the LDP “Coaches” and the “Rising Stars” they will coach, and implement the program.
To do so, we have paired five veteran chapter leaders with four young “Rising Stars,” all UCF graduates and former mentees (as well as mentors in two cases), to the next wave of Tech Comm students at UCF. To make the pairings, we asked the Coaches and Rising Stars to submit an application including a self-profile ranking themselves on , and dividing them into three groups of six: greatest strengths, secondary strengths, and growth areas.
We then made the pairings to achieve an optimum match of the Coaches’ greatest leadership strengths with the Rising Stars’ leadership growth areas. While the personal data upon which the pairings are based, like that in the mentoring program, is confidential, the pairings themselves may now be announced. As an informal program, the LDP has no specific timeframe, although the intent this year is for the Coaches to guide young chapter officers through their presentations at STC Summit 2018 next month and then on through the 2018-2019 chapter year.
As Lead Coach, Mike Murray will meet and communicate with all four Rising Stars periodically. His focus is to help them operationalize the concepts of the FSLG—particularly the importance of treating STC, albeit a volunteer organization, the same way you would a business.
The focus of the LDP is both strategic and tactical, both philosophical and practical. The annual Leadership Retreat in July—initiated by Mike Murray in 2003—focuses on strategic planning to establish the community’s objectives for the year and identify the activities to realize those objectives. The monthly Administrative Council (AdCo) meetings focus on tactical execution of the planned activities.
The method and frequency of communication in the LDP is up to the four Coach/Rising Star pairs. This is not a theoretical exercise. The intent is to ground the coaching in the “real-world” activities for which the Rising Stars are responsible as chapter officers.
With that in mind, the 1-on-1 pairings match Chapter President Alex Garcia with STC Fellow Karen Lane; Chapter Treasurer Bethany Aguad with STC Fellow and former Society Treasurer W.C. Wiese; Chapter Secretary Crystal Brezina with STC Fellow Dan Voss; and Chapter Communication Manager/Newsletter Co-Editor Nick Ducharme with STC Senior Member and immediate past Chapter President Debra Johnson.
Much-Heralded Fast-Start Leader’s Guide
Is Hot Off the STC Florida Chapter Press!
By: Dan Voss, STC Fellow and Education Committee Manager
“This guide isn’t like any leadership publication you’ve ever read. While most publications, such as STC’s informative Community Handbook, focus on the details of running a community, the Fast-Start Leader’s Guide is more philosophical in nature. It addresses ways of thinking, not ways of doing, that have proven to be very successful over a long period of time—the why’s rather than the what’s and the how-to’s.” –Mike Murray, STC Fellow and author, Fast-Start Leader’s Guide
The long-awaited Fast-Start Leader’s Guide, or FSLG, authored by Mike Murray, has been officially published under the copyright of the STC Florida Chapter.
You will find this remarkable work under the Leadership Development Program on our website. The above link takes you directly to it.
Why is the Guide so remarkable?
Several years ago, a veteran STC Florida Chapter leader by the name of Mike Murray served as three-time president of what was then the Orlando Chapter. He led our community to the first three of nine Chapter of Distinction Awards and took on a new challenge as a member of the Society’s elected Board of Directors.
Already well known for his exceptional leadership ability, which represents a unique blend of strategic thinking and practical implementation, as a member of the Board of Directors, Mike undertook the project of developing a “guidebook” to help STC leaders form, build, and sustain their communities.
That was not all Mike did as a Society director, but it was probably his most important assignment.
Unfortunately, Mike was overcome by health problems that forced him to end his tenure on the STC Board prematurely and to shelve the project on the leadership guidebook.
There it remained as Mike battled a series of medical issues, including progressive Parkinson’s disease. These health setbacks were quite draining, and Mike devoted his remaining energy to supporting the Orlando Chapter. The half-finished leadership guide continued to languish on the shelf.
But when Mike learned last summer that the chapter’s Education Committee had been asked by Chapter President Alex Garcia to form a Leadership Development Program (LDP) (see separate article in this edition of MtM), Mike knew it was time to take the unfinished leadership guide “off the shelf,” dust it off, and finish it.
And finished now it is.
With editorial assistance from fellow STC Fellows W.C. Wiese, Karen Lane, and Dan Voss as well as Memo to Members editor Nick Ducharme, Mike has completed a landmark work that will serve STC community leaders for years to come.
It should be required reading not only for STC community leaders, but also leaders of other non-profit organizations that depend primarily on volunteer labor for their very existence. Mike’s ability to assemble and motivate a team of dedicated volunteers is unequaled.
This book tells how he did it—and still does it.
The Fast-Start Leader’s Guide is relatively brief and to the point (36 pages), but it covers a lot of territory. Written in Mike’s expressive but down-to-earth/person-to-person style, this eminently readable work truly is a “page turner”—but don’t let that fool you. The Guide is founded upon sound, proven leadership strategies, and it includes practical tactical implementation plans for those strategies.
The book is framed by the metaphor of building a house. Its three sections are entitled “The Foundation,” “The Walls,” and “The Roof.” The idea is for leaders of new or rebuilding organizations to focus first on the basics and build from there—just as Mike did in leading the Orlando Chapter from a low ebb to a three-time Chapter of Distinction.
Actually, as Mike’s immediate predecessor in the presidency who inherited a faltering organization that had stumbled through lean times after hosting the STC international conference in Y2K, W.C. Wiese had already started rebuilding the community’s Foundation through wise and strategic use of limited volunteer resources. Mike solidified the Foundation and drew in additional volunteer resources to build the Walls and then the Roof.
At the very first chapter meeting Mike hosted, in his sonorous public announcer’s voice, he welcomed a small but enthusiastic audience with the words, “Welcome to the Orlando Chapter—the fastest growing, most dynamic community in the Society.”
At the time, that was far from the truth. But Mike never blinked. That was his standard introduction to every chapter meeting for the next 3 years.
And 3 years later, as the chapter’s accomplishments grew and the community awards accumulated, it was the truth.
Just how did Mike and the people he led achieve this amazing turn-about?
Read about it in the Fast-Start Leader’s Guide.
Chapter’s Core Values Identified,
Ratified by Administrative Council
By: Mike Murray, STC Fellow
The STC Florida Chapter’s Administrative Council has identified and officially adopted the six core values that best represent how we perform work and conduct ourselves.
The writer polled AdCo members, who were asked to select from a comprehensive list of values, and winnowed the results down to six core values which the voting AdCo formally accepted at its April meeting.
The Florida STC Chapter’s core values are:
The core values of an organization are the values we hold that underlie our work, govern how we interact with each other, and determine which strategies we employ to fulfill our mission. We have an entire universe of values, but some of them are so primary, so important to us, that throughout the changes in society, government, politics, and technology they are STILL the core values we will abide by. In an ever-changing world, core values are constant.
Core values are not descriptions of the work we do or the strategies we employ to accomplish our mission. They are the practices we use (or should be using) every day in everything we do. Core values are also known as guiding principles because they form a solid core of who you are, what you believe, and who you are and want to be going forward.
Following is a detailed Values Statement expanding on our community’s six core values. The Values Statement is archived as “Our Values” on the pull-down sub-menu under “About Us” on the chapter website.
Two further additions are proposed before the end of 2018: a Vision Statement and a Mission Statement. These will, in essence, define how we translate our core values into specific goals and then realize those goals with results.
In the write-ups for each core value in the Values Statement, the core values are in initial caps for emphasis. You will also notice some other words in initial caps and quotation marks. These are additional values suggested as possible community core values during the poll of the AdCo that were subsequently determined to be covered in the final six core values selected. The write-ups explain the thinking that went into the down-select as we zeroed in on the final six.
How We Use Our Core Values
Navigating Treacherous Ethical Shoals is a Delicate Balance of Core Values
A Delicate Balance. Core values drive tough ethical decisions, both as an
individual and as an organization.
Analyzing complex professional issues to make ethical decisions is a complex process for an individual, even more so for an organization. Resolving ethical conflicts to find a solution that does the most good (or the least harm) is like navigating perilous shoals. Core values are the lighthouse that guides us to safe harbor.
There will come a time, as there always does, when we are faced with a difficult decision. Don’t go for days or weeks, as we sometimes do, talking and thinking, trying to make the “right” decision. Instead, take the time to refocus on our core values, and the answer quickly becomes apparent. Core values are what support the vision, shape the culture, and reflect what an organization values. They are the essence of our identity.
By: Bethany Aguad
Treasurer and Co-Manager, Education Committee
Florida Chapter, STC
As the STC Florida chapter, we are offering a new benefit for student members of our chapter. In the past, we have provided a rebate by check to new student members who joined the mentoring program. Going forward, we will be offering all student members of the Florida chapter three meeting coupons that can be redeemed for chapter meetings. If you are a student, this allows you to attend gain the educational benefits of attending three of our programs at no cost, and these coupons do not expire. Also, attendance at our chapter meetings will gain you active member points that can earn you a coveted active member shirt.
All student members of our chapter, even those who are already part of the chapter or who do not participate in the mentoring program, will receive three meetings coupons worth a total of $18 in savings on meeting fees. The coupons can be redeemed for any meeting that has a fee, which is currently $6 for student members. These meeting coupons cannot be used to cover meal costs when we have a program at a restaurant, as in those cases, meeting attendance is already free.
While the benefits of student membership are numerous, we wanted to provide this additional perk to all students who join the chapter and attend our monthly meetings. If you are a student who has joined our chapter and didn’t receive a rebate yet, email me to receive your three meeting coupons. Also, students already receive the fantastically discounted membership rate of $58.50 for the year! You can join the society at any time on stc.org.
As a reminder, another amazing benefit of STC membership is the opportunity to volunteer at the STC Summit in exchange for free registration. They have extended the deadline, so please take advantage of this opportunity! To sign up, please complete the Student Volunteer Application Form as soon as possible, and send it to STC’s Education Manager, Deborah Krat, and the Student Volunteer Coordinator, Carolyn Klinger. Need convincing? Check out my article in February’s Memo to Members: Student Volunteering at the STC Summit: Free Registration and Networking.
What lies ahead for FTC!
Wrapping Up the UCF Spring 2018 Semester
By: Andy Romero
Student Member, Florida Chapter, STC
Hello Technical Communicators,
I have had an amazing year serving as President of FTC and having the opportunity to collaborate so closely with all the professionals of STC. As the Spring semester comes to an end, FTC recognizes the great potential for future growth and involvement within the STC community and the University of Central Florida. FTC aspires to continue to prosper and to prepare students for success in the technical communication industry.
Exciting plans are in the works for FTC starting in Fall 2018. FTC is excited to announce that we are planning to expand our networking capabilities by partnering with The UCF Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE) Student Chapter and with the President of IISE, Angela Michelle Vaca. FTC’s goals are to prepare students for collaboration and to emphasize the relationship between technical writers and industrial engineers in the workplace. Some of the events we will participate in together will include company tours, volunteering opportunities, and technical workshops.
We are also eager to welcome the new Trevor Colbourn Hall building that will open in August 2018. With this improved space, we hope to expand our meeting capacity and to reach more students in the technical communication, English, and engineering fields.
If you happened to miss out on the previous FTC meeting held on Thursday, April 5th, we successfully took professional headshots for attending FTC members. These headshots are paramount for effective resumes and online portfolios. They also help provide a face for future employers. In addition, elections for new FTC officers will be held in early August, so if you are interested, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time,
- From the Editors’ Desk
- The President’s Corner
- Tampa Bay Tech Comm Meetup
- February Meeting Recap – Purple Venue
- February Meeting Recap – Blue Venue
- February Meeting Recap – Burgundy Venue
- February Meeting Recap – Red Venue
- February Meeting Recap – Green Venue
- February Meeting Recap – Gold Venue
- Upcoming STC Webinars
Technical Communicators of Florida and Beyond,
As you can see in our author photo, this is the first-ever edition of Memo to Members brought to you by not one, but two lead editors!
For this very special edition, we bring you not only a mega-newsletter being overseen by two editors, but also a groundbreaking announcement from our president, Alex Garcia. Keep reading for more!
Also in this edition, Michele L. writes about how (after much hard work and time on her part) our chapter has kicked off in-person meetups in the Tampa Bay area!
Furthermore, after another successful annual joint Future Technical Communicators (FTC)/STC meeting at the University of Central Florida (UCF), six STC student members bring you a play-by-play recap of every progression-style venue topic.
By the way, we would like to give a special shout-out to Dan Voss for his receipt of a 2017 Chapter Service Award at the February meeting. Way to go, Dan, and thanks for pouring your blood, sweat, and tears into the success of this chapter for the past two decades and then some! After the next twenty years, we shall petition the Orlando mayor to erect a statue in your honor outside of City Hall. 😉
And finally, we would like to remind you of this month’s meeting—another annual tradition. That’s right: it’s time for our Annual Employment Panel meeting! We encourage you to join us this Thursday, March 22nd, for a question and answer session about all things tech comm employment/career development with our three esteemed panelists:
- Jack Molisani, ProSpring Technical Staffing
- Scott Dorsett, Riptide Software
- Mark Wray, University of Central Florida
Please click here to RSVP.
Sincerest thanks for reading,
Nick Ducharme and Emily Wells
Editors, Memo To Members
By: Alex Garcia
(Orlando Central) Florida Chapter, STC
What a momentous past couple of weeks, as I saw not one, but two of my presidential visions come to life. First, your Chapter’s Leadership Development Program (LDP) has softly launched. The LDP, carefully driven by Education Committee Co-Chair Dan Voss and Chapter Historian Mike Murray (both STC Fellows), was an idea I have been toying with for years. The reality of life is that as people retire and leave organizations, certain intangibles leave with them. There is a formidable set of STC Fellows and Senior Members in your Chapter who possess organizational knowledge and leadership skills that need to be passed down. At the same time, our mentoring program has harvested the cream of the crop of less experienced Technical Communicators, who continue to step up into Chapter leadership. The time is now for a knowledge transfer to commence—before that knowledge drives off in a Winnebago. Stay tuned in the months to come for updates about the progress of this monumental program.
Secondly, and most importantly…
“Members and Friends of the Florida Chapter STC…” That has a pretty nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Well, everyone, it is OFFICIAL! The STC Board of Directors has approved your Orlando Central Florida Chapter’s evolution into the Florida Chapter STC. This endeavor is about 18 months in the making, since your Chapter merged with the Suncoast Chapter (and really since 2012 when we welcomed the Space Tech Chapter into our fold). After our investment in capabilities to share your Chapter’s programs and resources with members throughout Florida, we are very grateful that STC has ratified your Chapter’s name change, and we believe it will allow professional communicators to grow wherever they live in Florida. Please bookmark your Chapter’s new website address: www.stcflorida.org.
Leveraging on his 45 years of Communications experience with Lockheed Martin, I asked W.C. Wiese to pen a press release announcing this momentous occasion. It appears below:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact:
20 March 2018 W.C. Wiese (407) 356-4792 email@example.com
STC Announces Expanded Professional Resource
for Technical Communicators in Florida
Recognizing the outreach initiatives of its only professional chapter in Florida, the Board of Directors of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) has renamed the Orlando Central Florida Chapter as the Florida Chapter. The new name recognizes an expanded service area and a dynamic change in the way local chapter operates.
For years, the former Orlando Central Florida Chapter has provided programming and leadership for professionals beyond the Orange/Seminole County area. By implementing local subgroups and offering them access to budget resources, the Chapter now serves professionals in other parts of the state, including Tampa Bay, the Space Coast, and Jacksonville. Outreach continues to ensure that members in South Florida, and outside of Florida in some cases, feel a greater connection to STC and have access to educational resources.
The Chapter has been recognized nine times as a Chapter of Distinction—STC’s highest recognition.
STC is the world’s largest and oldest professional association dedicated to the advancement of the field of technical communication. The Society’s members span the field of the technical communication profession and reach across every industry and continent. Through a growing global community, the Society and its members set global standards and provide professional certification for technical communicators. Information about STC can be found on its website at www.stc.org. Information about the Florida Chapter is available on its website at http://www.stcflorida.org.
By: Michele L.
Florida Chapter, STC
With an abundance of free online content and social networking options, people no longer must meet face-to-face to exchange information. This can cause a perceived lack of value in face-to-face meetups, which is causing participation in professional associations around the world to decline. Online communities, however, are thriving. Therefore, if organizations are to survive, they must adapt to meet the needs of their members.
As STC faces this challenge, the STC Florida Chapter is searching for new ways to retain members and provide outreach for those of us who live too far away to attend a face-to-face chapter meeting. One experiment the chapter is conducting is to use the power of an online networking site, Meetup, to bring people together in person. Meetup is free to join, and anyone can establish a group for like-minded individuals.
The Tampa Bay Tech Comm Meetup group rotates meetings around the central west coast of Florida. We post a lunch or after work location on the site several weeks in advance and invite anyone to join us. Placing a sign on the table identifies our group to newcomers. There is no agenda or speaker, just an opportunity for attendees to share a meal or beverage with like-minded professionals. This creates a less stressful environment for those who plan the meetings, present at meetings, and clean up afterwards. By keeping the gatherings short and rotating them around the area, anyone interested in technical communication can join.
At a recent lunch in Tampa, we went around the table, introduced ourselves, and talked about our latest work projects as well as the upcoming STC Summit. One attendee was looking for a graphic designer; another wanted to know more about using DITA. A college student talked about her post-college plans.
If our group is successful, Meetups could be held around the state, giving all technical communicators the chance to network in person and stay connected to the statewide chapter without having to travel to Orlando. This would provide a lifeline to smaller communities who can no longer support an STC chapter but crave a local connection.