Name: Donn DeBoard
Position: Chair, Higher Education Outreach; Chair, Scholarship Committee
STC Fellow, Multiple recognitions in the Publications contest over a 10 year period, 2006 PMC Distinguished Chapter Service Award
When and how did you get involved in STC?
I became involved with STC while I was a graduate student at Drexel University. Someone in my night class mentioned that STC-PMC was the local chapter of an international organization that focused on technical communications. They also mentioned that PMC was a great way to connect with like-minded people and network for jobs. While I was working at the time, STC allowed me to connect to the talented folks who were local technical communications practitioners.
What are the duties of your current position with STC-PMC?
- Chair, Higher Education Outreach: I proactively reach out to the university communities in the PA, DE, and NJ areas via a monthly email. I identify university faculty and students who have an interest in technical communications and share PMC news and activities. We now have student representation from Villanova, Drexel, and the University of Delaware on our Admin Council. PMC is actively nurturing student involvement in the chapter.
- I am in my second year in university outreach. I bring university-outreach related ideas to the PMC Admin Council. For example, we have had monthly meetings at Drexel University for the past two years. These meetings were well attended by Drexel students in communications-related areas of study. PMC presented panel on technical communications in the 2015 Drexel Week-of-Writing.
- Students are the future of our PMC and STC as a whole. The PMC-student relationship has the potential for mutual growth. Students can share their skills from the university community. PMC can share practical lessons from experienced technical communication professionals.
- Chair, Scholarship Committee: I work with the PMC Scholarship team to review student applications and the corresponding essays. The scholarship program has two parts: a PMC-sponsored student membership ($75) and a $500 scholarship. Students submit essays on why they want to join PMC. We review the essays to determine who receives a sponsored membership to PMC. The students who receive sponsored PMC memberships actively participate in PMC activities to determine the winner of the scholarship. The scholarship is awarded in June.
What advice would you offer to someone looking to get more involved in STC-PMC?
Volunteer in STC-PMC as much as you can. Follow your passion to learn new things. Share your creativity and new ideas with PMC. Enjoy the PMC community. We can teach each other new skills as we grow the chapter. Have fun.
Are you involved in any other groups or communities within STC?
Currently, I am a 2014-2016 Nominating Committee member and UX and User Experience SIG member. I am new mentor to a Drexel University graduate student. Also, I was on the Community Affairs Committee (CAC) team for three years (2010-2012).
I have presented at the STC Summit and regional conferences for over ten years. I wrote for Intercom about the 2008 STC Summit in Philadelphia.
How has your STC membership benefited you?
I have been an STC member for 29 years. The technology that delivers content has changed over the years. However, the need to create clear, concise content that enables users to perform their job easily remains the gold standard for me. Content is an important part of the user experience with a product.
I enjoy the people in STC, locally, nationally, and internationally. They are bright, talented, friendly people. I like to network to meet new people. I am continually learning new things.
STC provides a way to learn from and give back to the local technical communication community. PMC is a great resource as your career changes over time.
What is your educational background?
- BA, Journalism (Indiana University of PA)
- Certificate, Management Information Systems (Widener University)
- BS, Technical and Science Communications (Drexel University)
- MEd, Instructional Systems (Penn State/Great Valley)
How did you get started in TechComm?
I worked as a Documentation Specialist for a consulting firm in Malvern. They had a large Japanese client who created large mainframe manuals. They had native-Japanese speakers translate these manuals into English. Essentially, these manuals were English words in Japanese sentence structures. My job was to edit or re-write the manuals into clear, concise English. For example, the manuals were all in passive voice due to the levels of politeness that the Japanese culture followed. You never tell someone what to do in the Japanese culture. So, it was always: “The key was pressed.” instead of “Press the key.”
What does your current professional position entail?
I am a Sr. Information Developer at Vertex Inc., a tax technology company based in Berwyn, PA. I develop content for a web-based tax compliance software. This includes writing about Web Services and XML schema.
I spend a lot of time understanding the needs of the customer and their end-to-end journey using our software. I look to develop the most effective content that can improve the customers’ experience with our products.
What advice would you give to a college student interested in a career in TechComm?
Be curious. Learn continually. Get some pro-bono work with non-profits to get some experience and build your portfolio. Get involved with STC. Share your ideas with STC.
And finally, what do you enjoy for fun?
Time with my family, exercise and Pilate’s reformer, hiking, bike riding, reading, playing guitar (strum-and-hum division), songwriting.