In the STC Spotlight – Back from Break!

In May, we introduced our new blog feature “In the STC Spotlight”, where we profile either an individual or community within STC. In our first spotlight, we profiled STC Director Alisa Bonsignore. In our next article, we shine the spotlight upon Kirsty Taylor, STC Secretary.

What made you decide to become a Board member?
Being from Australia, Kirsty brings international perspective. “I decided to nominate to be considered for the Board elections so that I could hopefully provide a unique view point as a member outside North America, whose professional technical communication career has always been in Australia, even though the companies I’ve worked for have all been multinational.”

What do you enjoy most about being on the Board?
“Understanding more about the guts of the Society, and working with my fellow board members to create a strategy for our Society’s future.”

More About Kirsty
Kirsty is the Manager of Product Internationalisation for RPMGlobal, a company that creates software for the global mining industry. She works with product managers and the development teams to ensure her company’s software and content are internationalized and ready to be translated into their key languages.

In her spare time, Kirsty enjoys reading, knitting, “endlessly scrolling through items on [her] iPad, introducing as many Aussie slang terms to as many bemused foreigners as possible”, travelling, eating cupcakes, and singing loudly to John Farnham’s “You’re the Voice”, any Beyoncé song, and Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” while in her car.

“When I combined my love of travel with singing at a Karaoke shop in Tokyo,” Kirsty explains, “I discovered my singing sounds a lot better in my head or when I’m alone in my car than it does with a microphone.”

Kirsty lives in Brisbane, Queensland with her husband and their daughter. “We do not yet have any pet Drop Bears,” Kirsty comments, “though we have a number of possums who roam our backyard at night and eat many of the herbs and veggies that I try to grow. Also – google Australian possums. There’s good reason Dame Edna Everage used “possum” as a term of endearment. Aussie possums are not related to American opossums.”

“Like 80% of the Australian population, I live on the east coast, specifically in Brisbane (pronounced Briz-bunn, not Bris-bain), which is the capital city of Queensland. Queensland is the sunshine state, and we mostly enjoy a sub-tropical climate, but perhaps not so much in mid-summer when it’s too hot to think, and it’s so hot and humid your eyeballs feel like they’re sweating.”

Interesting fact about Kirsty
She was born in a small outback town in Queensland, where researchers for the first Jurassic Park movie studied how dinosaurs stampeded; in the 1970s, a set of dinosaur stampede tracks were found about 100km outside of the town.

BONUS FEATURE: Demystifying the STC Board

When you hear the term “STC Board”, what comes to mind? A group of mysterious beings sitting around a leather-covered table and shrouded in smoke from afar? STC Director Alisa Bonsignore explains what the Board does.

What the STC Board Does

“In addition to the decision-making and guidance that the board provides as a group, the Directors also serve as liaisons to committees and task forces,” Alisa explains. “We have monthly board meetings online, and two face-to-face meetings: at Summit and a two-day intensive face-to-face meeting at STC headquarters in suburban DC.”

The Board also discusses and debates various topics via email, as well as reviews documents and financials. “It requires a significant amount of engagement, research, and general awareness of the industry as well as trends within the nonprofit space,” Alisa explains. “We’re in an interesting time for membership associations. The model that worked for the Society at its founding 65 years ago is not a model that makes sense today.”

Evolution of STC to Serve its Members

Alisa addresses how STC continues to evolve and serve its members. “In the past year, I’ve been part of a team of committed volunteers who have been looking outside the box to develop new market-driven, innovative approaches that empower our members and give them the resources needed to succeed.” Alisa says. “It’s been incredibly exciting to explore new possibilities that can carry the Society into the future.”

People – Heart of the Matter

Alisa reflects further about an important aspect of serving on the Board – the people who comprise STC at all levels. “I’m incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with some amazing people, and for the broader connections that I’ve made through involvement with committees and communities. STC brings together such an interesting, engaged, and intelligent group of people from a wide range of industries and experiences. That intellectual diversity makes STC vibrant and interesting. The Board is a reflection of that, and I admire the way we work together to approach challenges as a team.”

Misconception #1:  Unapproachable Board

Alisa also addresses a common misconception that the Board seems unapproachable and distant from the members they represent. “I think there’s a misconception that the board is closed-off and not open to suggestions,” Alisa says. “That’s absolutely untrue. I think this stems from people coming to us with ideas or projects that are very near and dear to their hearts, and they become discouraged or offended when we don’t implement them. Oftentimes, these are great ideas!”

Alisa explains why not all ideas are considered. “In an organization like STC, every project requires money and volunteers. We don’t have an abundance of either, and that limits the type and number of projects that we can implement in any given year. But that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad idea!” Alisa explains what members could do to increase their chances of ideas becoming realities. “The best approach is to come to us with not only an idea, but also a leader or team, and ideas for funding.”

Misconception #2:  Lucrative Service

Alisa also addresses another misconception that serving on the board is somehow lucrative. “This is not the case at all,” Alisa says. “While we are eligible to receive a small stipend for Summit and the face-to-face meeting in DC, it doesn’t come close to covering the expenses for either — and some of us don’t feel comfortable taking the stipend at all. In reality, Board service requires a great deal of personal time and personal expense, more than I really anticipated before my first year of service.”

“I think that’s the important thing to know about Board service: it’s not about what you get from being on the Board, it’s about what you think you can give'” Alisa reflects. “It’s absolutely critical to understand that you’re one of nine people, and there isn’t room for personal agendas. This is about doing what’s right for the Society within the constraints that we have around budget, staff, and volunteers. While healthy debate is encouraged, at the end of the day we all have to be working together to row the boat in the same direction.”

New Blog Feature: In The STC Spotlight

Welcome to our new blog feature “In the STC Spotlight”! Each month, we will profile either an STC community or an individual STC member. In our first blog entries, we will profile two members of the STC Board. We will also get an insider look at what the STC Board does.

Alisa Bonsignore

Alisa Bonsignore serves as a Director of the STC Board. Among their duties, Directors serve as liaisons to committees and task forces within the Society.

What made you decide to become a Board member?

“It was something that I’d thought about for a few years before running. I’d reached a point in my career where I felt like I had the experience and flexibility to give something back to the STC community. Education and professional development were (and are) my personal focus. I had been involved with the education committee at AMWA (American Medical Writers Association) and the education and Summit review committees at STC, and wanted to take that experience to the next level.”

What do you enjoy most about being on the Board?

Being able to work with a variety of companies, departments, and industries has greatly helped Alisa in her tenure on the Board. “I love that I have the opportunity to constantly learn new things in a way that I didn’t when I had a specific role at my in-house jobs,” Alisa explains. “I see my involvement with the Board as an extension of that.”

“The Board uses my skills and experience in a completely different way than my day-to-day work. There’s a lot of focus on strategy and finances that’s on a completely different scale than what I get to experience in my own business. And it’s given me the opportunity to work with some really excellent people, both on the Board and on staff.”

“While I knew a lot about STC when I began, Board service has led me to do a ton of research into the broader category of membership associations, organizational dynamics, online learning, and professional development. I’m an absolute research nerd, so this has been fantastic.”

More about Alisa

Alisa runs her own strategic communications consulting firm in the Bay Area. In her spare time, Alisa enjoys reading, traveling, practicing Muay Thai, crocheting, and hiking. She also enjoys taking long walks, which gives her “the peace and quiet to do some serious thinking.” She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and 7th grade son.

Interesting facts about Alisa

“I know how to crochet, but I’m baffled by knitting; I once ran a half marathon in Germany; and I’ve given more than two dozen talks at a variety of conferences.”

Alisa crocheted a gorgeous shawl -what a lovely stitch pattern!