Chapter Spotlight: East Bay

Welcome to another STC Spotlight, focusing on one of the many wonderful communities in STC. This edition goes to the western coast of the United States for East Bay, in California. Want your chapter or SIG in the Spotlight? Email Your Friendly Neighborhood Blogger to volunteer! Many thanks to all the members of the chapter (listed at the bottom) who helped answer the questions!

What’s the official name of your chapter?
East Bay STC

How many members does it have?
50 as of 31 December. (We’re small but we’re old!)

Who are the leaders?
Voting Officers:

  • President, Jane Olivera
  • President Elect, Romy Sinha
  • Vice President, Programs, Ann Adams (also Publicity)
  • Vice President, Arrangements, Lori Cooke (also WordPress project, 50-year anniversary celebration)
  • Treasurer, Joe Humbert
  • Secretary, Helen Cheung
  • Immediate Past President: Gwaltney Mountford


  • Webmaster, Joe Humbert (also Podcaster, editor)
  • Membership Manager, Liz Miller
  • Jobs Manager, Cheryl Voloshin
  • Website Transition to WordPress, Adrienne Tange
  • Technical Literacy (Community Outreach), T. R. Girill
  • Strategic Planning Committee and 50-Year Anniversary Committee, Gwaltney Mountford

Other Volunteers:

  • June Schaefer, Archivist
  • Lori Meyer, Melody Brumis, Strategic Plan
  • Ashwini Tharval, Chapter Brochure
  • Sue Moxley, Editor

Can you give me a rundown of a generic chapter meeting?
We meet at a local country club with schmoozing/networking starting at 5:30, dinner at 6:15, chapter announcements at about 6:50–7:00 (depending on how much is going on), speaker at 7:15 or 7:30, raffle at 8:30 or 8:45. We meet from September through June, taking a break in July and August.

What kinds of speakers have you had at your meetings?
All kinds. Each year we have a Trends in Technical Communication program (usually in spring) and the Next Best Thing to Being There, a recap of the conference for our members that could not attend.

The trends panel members vary from year to year. Last year’s panel included Yas Etessam, an XML consultant; Jeff Gardiner, writer, editor, manager (including of the publication of Read Me First! A Style Guide for the Computer Industry); Meryl Nachez, founded TechProse and teacher at UC Berkeley Extension; Linda Urban, consultant in designing and developing information and instruction and teacher at UC Berkeley Extension.

Last year, the conference recap was unusual in that seven of our members presented instead of the normal three (since the conference location was so close).

We also have a holiday meeting which sometimes includes chapter members reading their own works of fiction or performing. Last year we had four local technical writers who had published in the fiction market (two were mystery writers who had published a number of books).

In between we have a mix of presentations. Last year’s included:

  • Managing Agile Documentation Projects (Tim Bombosch)
  • Joomla: The Popular, Free, Open Source CSM (Ernest Meyer)
  • Getting Started with Social Networking as a Technical Communicator (Lori Fisher)
  • Listen! (Rich Maggiani)
  • Let’s Talk DITA (Liz Fraley)
  • Behind the Scenes at the Science Fair (Nadine Horner and T.R. Girill)

We also like to have authors speak of their books (raffling off a copy at the end of the program). This year’s batch included Randall Bolton, Painting With Numbers, and Joe Welinske, Developing User Assistance for Mobile Apps

Do you do any outreach in the local techcomm community? If so, what types of things do you do?
T.R. Girill runs the EBSTC’s Technical Literacy Project, which provides resources for working school teachers to help them improve the technical literacy of high schools students. This program started in 1998 by Lenore Weiss and continues today thanks to the unflagging effort of T.R.

Do you have a “sister” chapter that you work with often? Tell us about that.
We don’t have a sister chapter, but we maintain a strong, ongoing relationship with the Berkeley Chapter, and occasionally collaborate with newsletter duties, job lists, and speakers.

Your chapter was kind of an unofficial cohost at last year’s Summit, correct? How did that go?
All the Bay Area chapters supported the Sacramento chapter, who hosted the Summit. Our members were delighted to have the opportunity to help. Some wrote blogs and articles, some manned the host tables, others helped with the planning. And we were all proud of Sacramento’s success at being host.

And I understand that you have a milestone coming up this year? Can you tell us about that?
Our chapter turns 50 this year (June 1962 was our official first meeting). We originally started as the Pacifica chapter, changing our name to something more geographically appropriate in 1982. (Still-member, T.R. Girill, STC Fellow, was president of the chapter at the time.)

Wow, 50 years old. That’s the Golden Anniversary. What would one give as a gift to East Bay for its Golden Anniversary?
We’re celebrating with a party on 2 June at a winery in Pleasanton. One could come help us celebrate. Vendors could give us great gifts to raffle at the party. Or one could send us congratulations that we would publish in our newsletter (we plan to highlight our anniversary throughout the year) or in the video we’ll show during the party.

Tell us a bit about some of your members.
Who’s the funniest? We’re all pretty funny, at least all that show up at meetings.
Most creative? Hmmm. We have many creative members. Joe Humbert, Maureen Williams, Melody Brumis, Judy Herr all are unpublished creative writers (poetry or fiction). Liz Miller and Gina Gotsill have published non-fiction (not directly related to technical communication)
Snazziest dresser? Gina Gotsill or Romy Sinha
Most likely to cover themselves in gold paint for your anniversary? Alas, no one.

Say the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons was asked about your chapter. Fill in the blank: “Best _____ EVER!”
We’re probably four of 17 people who do not know anything about The Simpsons, but some of the authors below say “Best communicators ever!” and others say “Best dinner ever!,” since our meetings are at a country club where chapter members are invariably are served healthy and tasty meals in a “quiet non-restaurant setting.”

How is your chapter stereotypically California? How is it not?
We’re not sure what stereotypically California is, but we’re pretty sure we don’t fit it. Our members are eclectic (mixed nuts, one might say), not of one type, which makes talking with any member fun and interesting. Our sobriquet is The Friendly Chapter—that could be a California thing. (Now, we realize that every chapter is a friendly chapter, but we are The Friendly Chapter.)

Finally, brag a little bit—about anything you’d like!
We have some outstanding volunteers. Our chapter is turning 50! That’s half a century!
You may have noticed from the list of leaders that, at present, about 30% of our membership volunteers in some way to help our chapter be more supportive of its members. That figure varies from 25 to 40% depending on our projects. We’re very proud of our membership involvement, since it is what keeps a chapter strong and still going after 50 years. Our membership (like most other communities) has declined drastically from the late 1990s, but the remaining members obviously find value in STC and our chapter.

Names and titles of people answering :
Gwaltney Mountford, Immediate Past President and organizer of the anniversary celebration
Jane Olivera, President
Helen Cheung, Secretary
Liz Miller, Membership Manager

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