2017 Chapter Communications

January 2017 Newsletter

2016 Year End Summary:

Message from the President


By any measure, 2016 was a successful year for the Phoenix chapter of the STC.

  • We held 15 events with an average attendance of 14 people per event.
  • Our seminars on intellectual property, DITA, Agile, and MacCap Flare were highly rated by the attendees.
  • Fifty-four new members joined our Meetup site in 2016 and we’ve successfully recruited a number of new faces for supporting roles and elected positions.
  • Financially, we operated within our revenue stream, ending the year as we began, with approximately $5000 in reserve.

As president, I want to acknowledge the contributions of the people who helped make 2016 a success.

First of all, a huge thank you to our executive members:

  • Kim Rosenlof, Immediate Past President, for her invaluable advice and assistance
  • Dr. Barry Maid, Vice-President, for providing operational support and for helping us make major inroads into area academic communities.
  • Alisa Sever, Treasurer, for her discipline and diligence in keeping our finances in order.

In addition, I would like to thank the following people:

  • Warren Johnson, LL.B, from Early Warning, for delivering the seminar “Intellectual Property in the Internet Age.”
  • Steve Ballard from Intel Corporation.
  • Joe Connolly and Paul Manago from NXP Semiconductors, for the many hours they spent developing and delivering the “DITA Hands-on Workshop.”
  • Miachelle DiPiano for photographic assistance at the Expose UX filming.
  • Jeff Meisner and Alan Vickers, from the TriZetto Group, for their hard work and dedication in developing and delivering the seminar “The Tech Writer’s Role in Agile Development.”
  • Julie Anderson, from WorldatWork, for organizing and managing the fall barbeque.
  • Dr. Erika Konrad, from Northern Arizona University, for facilitating and providing a venue for the seminar “An Overview of MadCap Flare.”
  • Steve Ballard and Andrew Soller, from Intel Corporation, for managing seminar logistic support with Intel.
  • Kim Rosenlof, from AeroInk, Inc, and Maggi Thickstun for their consistent, timely production of our newsletter.
  • Rachel Houghton, from Rockwell Automation, for her herculean efforts in maintaining our website.
  • Michelle Parcell, from Pitney Bowes Software for maintaining our job bank.

Finally, I offer my sincere appreciation to all of you who have provided so much encouragement and support throughout the year.


My best wishes to all of you for a happy, healthy, and successfully 2017,


Lou Kummerer

President, STC—Phoenix




February 2017 Newsletter

Urgently Seeking New Treasurer


Our recently elected STC Treasurer has been forced to resign due to an employer imposed policy and regulatory restrictions. We are desperately seeking someone to replace her in that position for 2017.


As President, I will commit to keeping the Treasurer responsibilities to a bare minimum. I believe we can limit the time commitment to less than 24 hours/year (i.e. 2 hours/month) as follows:


I will own all of the ground level functions (maintaining records of income and expenditures, collecting entrance fees at events, etc.) The Treasurer will be responsible for submitting two reports to the National—a Financial Report in May and a Budget in October. In both cases, the National provides an Excel spreadsheet and the Treasurer reviews our bank statements (plus my financial records) and filters the data into the appropriate spreadsheet categories.


Each report takes a maximum of 8 hours (usually less). Once a year, the Treasurer must revalidate our tax-exempt status with the IRS. This requires nothing more than going to the IRS website and submitting a simple form. The procedure takes about 15 minutes.


Twice a year we do a review with the executive committee. I will roll up the data, but will depend on the Treasurer to validate my work.


Although the Treasurer is invited to attend our monthly executive committee meetings, attendance is critical only when we do the financial reviews. The meetings have been running about a half hour per month.

In all cases, we will provide whatever support the Treasurer may need to fulfill these responsibilities successfully.


If you are willing to help, please contact me at louk247@centurylink.net.


Pesto's Pizza and Wine Bar

Thursday, February 9, 5pm



1960 W. Ray Road, Suite 4, Chandler, AZ (map)


Join us for the first happy hour of 2017 at this pleasant and subdued East Valley wine bar and Italian restaurant. Eat, drink, network and learn about our plans for the coming year.




March 2017 Newsletter

March 11        Saturday AM Coffee and Conversation

April 13          East Valley Meetup

May 18            Scottsdale Beer Company Meetup

June 17           Saturday AM Coffee East Valley



May/June -- UX for Technical Documentation

An introduction to UX (User Experience) principals as they apply to technical documentation. Attendees are encouraged to submit examples of their own work for critical analysis.


Sep 16 – An Introduction to Plain Language and Simplified Technical English

Dr. Erika Konrad (NAU) and Karen Field Carroll (Write2Help) discuss two contemporary standards aimed at making documentation more comprehensible to users with varied international and educational backgrounds.

February CMAC Highlights


Membership Update

Membership in the Metro Phoenix Technical Communicators group as grown significantly in the past year (161 members, up from approximately 120 at the start of 2016) and average attendance at events (approximately 15 attendees/event) is within striking distance of our target goal of 20 attendees/event. However, local membership in the STC national has dropped off dramatically (down approximately 40% from 2016). If you haven’t already renewed your membership in the STC, PLEASE DO SO NOW!


2017 Objectives

The February CMAC meeting set the following 2017 objectives for the organization:

1.     Implement a sustainable funding model that reduces our reliance on remittances from the STC national

2.     Reinforce our communication organs

Recent News


Treasurer replacement

Our recently elected STC Treasurer has been forced to resign due to employer imposed policy constraints and regulatory restrictions. STC Fellow Rachel Houghton has agreed to fill the post-election Treasurer vacancy for the remainder of the year. As required by STC by-laws, an interim election must be held to validate the selection. The results of that election will be announced Mar 6.


Mentorship Program

We have two mentorship aplicants who are seeking a mentor with grant-writing experience. If you have such experience (or know somebody who has grant writing experience), please contact our mentorship student rep Julie Anderson at jlath01@msn.com


Saturday a.m. Coffee and Conversation

Panera Bread

Saturday, March 11, 10 am



1125 E Glendale Road, Phoenix, AZ (map)



Join us for another Saturday morning session of coffee and conversation with fellow technical communicators. We’ve reserved plenty of space at this easily accessible North Valley brunch location, so drop by and jolt your weekend into gear with a pleasant caffeine buzz.




April 2017 Newsletter

    APRIL 2017




East Valley Meetup

Thursday April 13

4:30 to 7:00 PM

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse

3155 West Chandler Boulevard, Chandler, AZ (map)



Our East Valley Meetup this spring is at BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse in the Chandler Fashion Mall. Join us for networking and casual conversation at this popular happy hour destination.



Upcoming Events



May 18            Scottsdale Beer Company Meetup

June 17           Saturday AM Coffee East Valley



May/June -- UX for Technical Documentation

An introduction to UX (User Experience) principals as they apply to technical documentation. Attendees are encouraged to submit examples of their own work for critical analysis.


Sep 16 – An Introduction to Plain Language and Simplified Technical English

Dr. Erika Konrad (NAU) and Karen Field Carroll (Write2Help) discuss two contemporary standards aimed at making documentation more comprehensible to users with varied international and educational backgrounds.

March CMAC Highlights


Mentorship Program

The STC-Phoenix 2017 mentorship program is ramping up, with four new applicants seeking entry in the past quarter. The mentorship program links ASU/NAU Technical Communication students and entry-level writers with seasoned professionals working in local industries. The goal is to give aspiring writers:

  • a ground-level view of the local technical communication profession in practice
  • guidance in making course and career decisions
  • advice on standard technical publication tools and processes
  • insights and background information on local job openings

Anyone interested in participating should contact Julie Anderson at JLATH01@msn.com.


Corporate Sponsorship

The STC-Phoenix CMAC executive committee is considering the feasibility of launching a corporate sponsorship program. The program would solicit financial grants and logistic support from Phoenix area companies that hire technical writers. The effort is headed by STC-Phoenix Secretary Angela Harleaux.


Top five reasons to post your position with the STC Phoenix Chapter Job Bank



Chapter Officers

Lou Kummerer



Vice President:

Barry Maid




Angela Harleaux



Rachel Houghton






Have you renewed your membership for 2017? Visit the STC website to join or renew.




May 2017 Newsletter

Happy Hour - Scottsdale Beer Company

Scottsdale Beer Company

Wednesday May 17 at 4:30pm

8608 E Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ (map)



One of our most popular destinations. We are meeting again for good conversation, good food and good beer at the Scottsdale Beer Company. See you there.

Upcoming Events



June 17           Saturday AM Coffee East Valley



May/June -- UX for Technical Documentation

An introduction to UX (User Experience) principals as they apply to technical documentation. Attendees are encouraged to submit examples of their own work for critical analysis.


Sep 16 – An Introduction to Plain Language and Simplified Technical English

Dr. Erika Konrad (NAU) and Karen Field Carroll (Write2Help) discuss two contemporary standards aimed at making documentation more comprehensible to users with varied international and educational backgrounds.




The May CMAC meeting was postponed to accommodate people attending the STC Summit. See next month’s newsletter for the most current CMAC update.


STC Technical Communication Summit

by Rachel Houghton


The 64th annual STC Technical Communication Summit just wrapped up on Wednesday, May 10 in National Harbor, MD. The location was unique - close to Washington, D.C. and all the sightseeing you could possibly cram in, but just far enough away that most tourist attractions were not a distraction.


There were plenty of things to see just outside the hotel. National Harbor boasts the Capitol Wheel, which gives you a birds' eye view of the Potomac River and Alexandria, as well as the new MGM Grand Hotel and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. If you didn't want to take a water taxi ride to Alexandria or the National Mall, there was enough to keep your camera busy just walking around: statues of Founding Fathers, Henry Ford, the Marilyn Monroe Seven Year Itch iconic scene,  and the Peeps store with the yellow Peepmobile outside -- just to mention a few.


While it was fun to take in the sights and sounds of the area, there was a lot of learning done at the Summit. A more comprehensive review of the Summit will appear in next month's newsletter. (All photos copyright Rachel Houghton, used with permission.)





June 2017 Newsletter

East Valley Coffee Social




Saturday AM Coffee June 17


Paradise Bakery and Cafe

9:30 to 11:00 AM

2855 W Ray Rd, Chandler, AZ (map)

Upcoming Events


2017 Events Schedule


Apply UX Approaches to Increase Your Technical Documentation Superpowers

  • Intel Corporation - Ocotillo Campus
  • 4500 S Dobson Rd , Chandler 85248, AZ (map)
  • Saturday June 24 10:00 AM
  • RSVP

Plain Language and Simplified Technical English

  • Northern Arizona University–East Valley Campus
  • 145 North Centennial Way, Mesa, AZ (map)
  • Saturday September16 10:00 AM
  • RSVP


The Phoenix Chapter Welcomes the Following New and Returning Members


New Members


Rebekah Dwyer

Steven Featherstone

Gregory LaPrad

Michelle Naturale

Ariel Rosen

Jennifer Tifft

Janell Zardja


Returning Members


Patricia Silverberg

Shaun O’Brien

Annual STC Summit

Phoenix chapter was fortunate to have two summit attendees this year, Rachel Houghton and Eric Strachan. Eric has provided the following  report on several of the Summit sessions:

Among the many benefits of attending the annual STC Summit is the opportunity to learn about important trends and developments in the industry from leading professionals. I had the good fortune to attend the Summit conference for the second straight year. What follows is a brief snapshot of what I observed. Insofar as I was only able to attend a small fraction of the sessions, I will necessarily be giving short shrift to a host of important topics like DITA, Agile, and user experience. Instead, I plan to talk briefly about API documentation, customer engagement through video tutorials, and what I’ll designate as --- for lack of a better term --- aligning documentation with business objectives. These topics reflect my personal interests, but I hope they might also be of interest to any technical communicators looking to adopt a promising specialty, acquire a critical new skill, or persuade stakeholders to appreciate the value of the work we do.

Opening Address at STC Summit Given by Seth Mattison


As was the case at last year’s Summit, the sessions on API documentation drew a lot of interest. The exponential growth of APIs, which shows no signs of abating, promises to provide a lot of job opportunities for technical communicators, especially since the supply of technical communicators with the requisite skills falls short of demand. Of course, API documentation also has the advantage of being one of the most lucrative technical communication specializations. I had the opportunity to attend two of these sessions at this year’s conference, one given by Ed Marshall and another by Robert Delwood. Invariably, one of the questions that comes up at these sessions is: How much programming knowledge does one need to write API documentation? As ever, the answer depends on whom you are asking. Though he did not address this question explicitly at this conference, I know that in the past Ed Marshall has said that an introductory-level knowledge of programming should suffice. You just need to know enough to craft some basic code samples and not break the build. According to Delwood, on the other hand, you can write good documentss without being a programmer, but you will not be able to write great documentss. In fact, he stated that writers would be at a disadvantage if they only knew one programming language. He suggested, moreover, that writers should be familiar with such concepts as class, inheritance, method vs. property, and scope. (For anyone interested in API documentation, I highly recommend Peter Gruenbaum’s affordable three-course introduction to API documentation, available through SDK Bridge/Udemy.)

Summit Attendees Leah Guren, Judith Glick Smith, and Andrea Ames showing off Judith Glick-Smith's book Flow-Based Leadership


The subject of customer engagement, which I will revisit below, figured prominently in many of the education sessions at this year’s Summit. However, I wanted to take a moment to discuss one specific means of customer engagement --- the video tutorial --- because I think the ability to produce such videos is becoming a vital skill for technical communicators. Whether or not we care to admit it, consumers appear less inclined than ever to consult the manual for instructions or troubleshooting. (For more on this topic, especially as it pertains to the IoT, see Steve Jong’s insightful article.) In his presentation, “Video Provides the Edge,” Mark Kleinsmith of MiTek, U.S.A. explained how his team converted their entire set of help documentation into short videos. According to Kleinsmith, the decision to ditch their old help system in favor of video was an acknowledgment that this is how people prefer to learn, but it also provides a unique avenue for creating a bond with customers. While I don’t think this kind of wholesale conversion is realistic for many companies, I think it is very likely that most companies will want to convert at least some help content into video format, if for no other reason than this is what consumers demand. In the near future, I think this will become a basic skill that all technical communicators will be expected to have.


Finally, a common theme in many of the sessions I attended was aligning documentation with underlying business goals. One of the biggest topics at the conference was content strategy, which to my mind is all about creating content that serves the underlying business goal of cultivating and maintaining a loyal customer base. But this theme also appeared in the context of urging technical communicators to demonstrate the added value of their content by aligning that content with marketing and sales objectives. This idea was articulated most explicitly in a presentation by Tom Aldous (“Aligning Your Technical Communication Content with Brand Initiatives and Making Marketing Pay for It”). He identified a shift in the industry toward having technical writers report to the marketing department, and encouraged writers to show the marketing folks that they can create content that can be used to build relationships with customers. In a somewhat different vein, this was also the thrust of Rahul Prabhakar’s presentation on social media (“How Social Media Can Be Part of Your Set of Technical Communication Skills”). Though he mainly talked about how he monetized his blog and the role of influencers in social media marketing, Prabhakar suggested that technical communicators, as the best communicators in their organizations, are positioned to help their organizations cultivate customer relationships and influence sales through social media.

Mirror Image of Hotel




July 2017 Newsletter

Happy Hour

Back at Scottsdale Beer Company in North Scottsdale


Thursday, July 20


4:30 PM

8608 E Shea Blvd, Scottsdale, AZ (map)


Upcoming Event


Plain Language and Simplified Technical English

Saturday, September 16


10:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Northern Arizona University–East Valley Campus

145 North Centennial Way, Mesa, AZ (map)



Join us for an interactive workshop in which you can practice Plain Language standards and Standardized Technical English standards and see how they might apply to your own workplace writing.


The Phoenix Chapter Welcomes New Member


Warren Gehl of Cottonwood AZ

Annual STC Summit

Last month we heard from Eric Strachan about his experience at the STC Summit. For this month's edition, Rachel Houghton has contributed her impressions.


I’ve been to almost every STC Summit since 1999, so my perspective and experience is a bit different. Yes, I go to the Summit to learn every year, but I also go to network with and learn from my peers in the field. And to have some fun!

In between sessions, at the Vendor Expo, at the local Starbucks – if you see an attendee wearing the Summit badge, it’s an opportunity to learn. You could meet someone in a totally different field who is experiencing the same challenges, or someone who lives in the same geographic area as you that you’ve never crossed paths with. All it takes is one conversation that sparks an idea or a solution to a nagging problem in your job.


Networking in the main hallway. That's Conference Chair Todd DeLuca in the back with the patriotic hat.


STC also has a great speed networking event that allows you to quickly meet (and exchange cards/information with) 7 other tablemates in 10 minute period, then you switch tables and do it again. This was a recent addition to the Vendor Expo area, but it’s a fun thing to do, and helps attendees get over that initial fear of approach.

There are also social events that allow attendees to meet in more informal ways. I attended a “Dine Around” event with a host chapter representative, Dr. Liz Herman at Rosa Mexicano. The tableside guacamole preparation was amazing, but the conversation was even better.


Tableside guacamole prep at  Rosa Mexicano.


I also went to the Honors Reception After Party, which featured the Rough Drafts on stage. The Rough Drafts are a group of technical communicators who play musical instruments. We had Rich Maggiani on drums, Viqui Dill on bass guitar and vocals, Keith Dill on guitar, Richard Hamilton on guitar, and Stephen Alder on guitar. They had a playlist of crowdsourced tunes, and occasionally the more extroverted attendees would get up on stage and sing along.


The Rough Drafts take the stage at the Honors reception.


Marilyn Woelk, Jamye Sagan, Sean Stevenson and Ben Woelk at the after party.


When it came time to say goodbye, it was time for some memories with friends. Lots of attendees were taking selfies with their phones as they headed back home, full of knowledge and good times.


Rachel and friends Dr. Jackie Damrau, Jamye Sagan, and Cindy Pao.





Tech Comm in AI World

Technical Communication in an AI World

NAU East Valley Campus, Mesa AZ

Saturday, December 2  10am to noon

145 North Centennial Way



What will you be doing when the robots take over?


Artificial Intelligence (AI) will likely replace humans in most manufacturing and service positions. But how will AI affect technical communication roles? A self-driving car may take you to work in the morning, stopping along the way at a Starbucks where robots have your latte ready for pick-up. But once you arrive at the office, then what?


On Dec. 2, the Society for Technical Communication (STC) Phoenix chapter will host a symposium that explores how AI might reshape the way technical writers and illustrators will work in the future. Join us as Dr. Mariano Phielipp, a senior AI researcher at Intel Corporation, guides a panel of academic and industry representatives in examining AI’s possible impact on the things technical communicators do today.


Admission price includes refreshments and snacks.


$20 Non STC Members

$15 STC Members

$10 Students


RSVP at our Meetup Site



December 2017 Newsletter

         DECEMBER 2017



New Members


Please welcome the following new Phoenix Chapter members:

  • Lester Kaufman
  • Erika Konrad
  • Angela Gillis


Holiday Party

Phoenix City Grille

Thursday, December 14, 4:30 to 7 pm

Bethany Home and 16th Street, Phoenix, AZ(map)

Join us for seasonal cheer.

Election results will be announced.


Interview with STC Associate Fellow
Kim Rosenlofby Maggi Thickstun


STC Associate Fellow Kim Rosenlof has been a member of the Phoenix Chapter since 1997 and has served as chapter treasurer (2012) and president (2013-2015)


Originally from Wisconsin, Kim knew she wanted to write from an early age and has been writing for the aircraft industry for many years. She operates her own technical writing business and currently serves as chapter membership chairperson.


Kim, how did you first get into the field of technical writing?


Before moving to Arizona in 1996, my writing had been confined to newsletters and magazine articles. But in 1997, I became a contractor for Honeywell, doing some light coding in Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) to create macros and templates for Microsoft Word. The documents I was producing were given to Honeywell technical writers.


After I was hired full time at Honeywell and took on more tech writing responsibilities, I convinced my manager to switch from Word to FrameMaker.


What advice do you have for writers just starting out in the field?

I've found that having some sort of background, experience or interest in the industry you want to write for is actually more important than a degree in technical writing. You are much more saleable as a technical writer if you actually know a little (or a lot) about the industry. For example, if you want to write in healthcare, go get an Associates in Nursing and work on the floor for a year or two. My degrees are in aviation, not English or tech writing.


Where do you see technical writing going in the future?


I see manuals going away, and even, in 50 years or so, PDFs. People don't read more than 300 to 400 words at a time any more. They want short videos, tutorials, wiki entries, blog posts, or bits of specific data.


Most technical writers won't be writing for end users but for the media producers, if they are not producing the media themselves. They'll write scripts for videos and tutorials, or they'll chunk material into small wiki-sized bites. Or if they want to write books, they may end up writing textbooks, although those are going increasingly digital too.


That said, there will always be a need for technical writers whether in the print field or online, whether with large companies or small.