TL;DR: Big changes are coming in how STC-PMC will operate going forward, and you can be part of shaping the chapter’s future.
This is going to be a bit of a long letter to you, STC-PMC chapter, but I do it in the interest of transparency.
I don’t think there’s a person out there that would disagree that 2020 has been a challenging year so far—and we’re only halfway through! The coronavirus has shaken all of us to our core, and it’s caused a lot of people to rethink how they want to be doing things once the pandemic lifts.
As 2020 approached, the STC-PMC council had been rethinking how we do things as a chapter. Sure, from the outside, the Philadelphia Metro Chapter has been seen as a powerhouse among STC chapters. After all, we were the STC Community of the Year in 2018. We’ve won the Platinum-Level Community Achievement Award every year since these awards were introduced, and we’ve won several Pacesetter Awards. We’ve produced an STC President, an STC Secretary, and numerous STC Directors. We’ve had many members who’ve become Fellows and Associate Fellows, and we’ve had several Distinguished Chapter Award winners.
In the last few years, a small, dedicated group of volunteers has worked hard to keep up these appearances. Our passion for technical communications, promoting our field, and sharing our knowledge with others drives us to keep our chapter alive. Even so, decreasing membership and reduced funding mean that we don’t have the resources needed to continue to support the chapter as we have in the past.
Through many discussions within the STC-PMC council, as well as with the STC Community Affairs Committee at the board level, we decided that the best way to ensure a sustainable future for the chapter—one in which we continue to serve our membership and the local tech comm community—is to downsize. We’re making some significant changes to how our council is structured and how our chapter operates, starting in the 2020-21 program year.
Until now, STC-PMC has been run by an elected President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer, with additional volunteers helping out with specific tasks—including publicity, academic outreach, and website maintenance—for the duration of each program year (September–June). While this structure made sense when the chapter was much larger, we haven’t had enough new volunteers to help fill these roles. As a result, many of the current volunteers have taken on multiple roles, leading to burnout, and some tasks have simply gone undone.
Starting next year, we’re reorganizing the council to include only two elected positions: President and Secretary/Treasurer. All other responsibilities will be shared among volunteer Directors-at-Large. The Directors at-Large will be cross-trained in various aspects of chapter activities, so that no single responsibility falls only on one person. This will also give the Directors at-Large experience with multiple leadership skills that will help them grow—not only within the chapter, but also in the workplace.
STC-PMC does A LOT! We have traditionally organized a monthly event—whether in-person or virtual—for our members and other interested parties throughout the program year. In addition, we’ve planned and produced CONDUIT, our celebrated tech comm conference, every spring. We’ve had some fantastic chapter events in the past few years, but attendance has been dwindling, and we often lose money from our meetings.
To better serve the chapter’s needs, we expect to have fewer events than we have in the past and—learning from this pandemic period—to use virtual meetings more effectively whenever possible. This is not to say we won’t have in-person events—we hope to enjoy many more festive holiday potlucks and year-end banquets! But we do envision a pared down schedule of events in future program years to better fit the needs and resources of our membership.
Moving Forward: Elections and Virtual Town Hall
Our chapter elections have been delayed because we wanted to ensure that we had all of this figured out. Now that we have a plan, you’ll be seeing election correspondence soon so that you can nominate yourself or someone you know for the elected positions (President and Secretary/Treasurer) or volunteer for the Director-at-Large positions.
To allow everyone—chapter members as well as those who are interested but not yet members—a chance to ask questions and get more details on what’s going on, we’re going to be holding a Virtual Town Hall on Tuesday, May 26th at 7:00 PM ET. (We’ll post details on this website’s calendar on the homepage shortly.) We would like as many of you to come as possible to ask questions and offer ideas and feedback. This is your chapter, after all, and the council wants to hear from you and let you know how you can participate and help.
Additionally, we want to know what kinds of events you would most like to attend! Take our quick 2020 Program Survey to help us know how to program the upcoming year to best meet your needs and interests.
We believe strongly in this chapter. Members of the Philadelphia Metro Chapter have always proven that we are up for challenges and we can more than meet them. We are confident that going forward, with this new council and operations structure, we can continue to be the strong chapter we’ve always been, just on a smaller, more sustainable scale.
I look forward to seeing you at our Virtual Town Hall and speaking with you, and I hope you will consider being a member of our council to help shape the future of the chapter.
If you are unable to attend the Virtual Town Hall, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have.
Thank you for your continued support of the STC-PMC, and talk to you soon,
Danielle M. Villegas