My career has always focused in two areas: technology and communications. Whether I was writing the First Bank information security policy manual, managing their corporate communications for operations and IT, or developing web-based educational systems for international embassy schools overseas, my background in communications design, research, analysis, and technology has been leveraged to achieve our departmental and corporate goals.
I am highly interested in managing corporate communications efforts focused on business analytics, documentation, awareness, and training.
- Master of Arts in Teaching
Lindenwood University, 2009
- Bachelor of Arts, English
McKendree University, 2000
- Project and team management: from full scale development and implementation to support and management
- Communications design: research, development, design, implementation, and followup
- Content management systems design, development, and management
- Policy and procedural research, writing, and management
- Curriculum design, development, and standards alignment
- Web-based instruction
- Keefe Group, St. Louis, Missouri
Technical Writer & Content Management Specialist, 2016 – Present
- Compton-Drew Investigative Learning Center, St. Louis, Missouri
6th, 7th, and 8th Grade Computer Science Teacher, 2015 – 2016
- Shanghai Community International School, Shanghai, China
7th, 8th, & ESOL Language Arts Teacher, 2014 to 2015
- Collegiate School of Medicine and Bioscience, St. Louis, Missouri
Freshman English Language Arts Teacher – Honors and Regular, 2013 to 2014
- American International School of Egypt, Cairo, Egypt
Sixth Grade Language Arts Teacher, 2010 to 2013
- Amateur Design, St. Louis, MO
Sole Proprietor, 2004 to 2010
- First Banks, Inc., St. Louis, MO
Information Security Policy and Procedures Administrator, 2007 to 2010
- First Banks, Inc., St. Louis, MO
Business Operations Policy and Procedures Analyst, 2003 to 2007
- Hoyleton Youth and Family Services, Hoyleton, IL
Developmental Rehabilitation Specialist, 2002 to 2003
- McKendree University, Lebanon, IL
Coordinator of Special Projects in Marketing, 2000 to 2002
Keefe Group – Wearing Lots of Hats
Keefe Group is a mid-sized corporation that services prisons and institutions. It provides everything needed to run a city: communications services, financial services, food services, and more. More over, everything is secured and follows a strict chain of custody that can be audited at every single checkpoint. Keefe has contracts all across the country in both privately run institutions and state and locally run facilities.
Software, Hardware, Service
Though Keefe utilizes third-party providers for some hardware and services, nearly everything is developed and built in house in St. Louis, Mo. From snapping together touchscreen kiosks, managing smart-order inventory processes, and configuring servers to developing the software that connects them all, the St. Louis office covers it all.
At Keefe, I work primarily with the software developers for three technologies:
Writing Documentation for an Agile Team
The software development teams at Keefe utilize the Agile methodology for application development. For developers, that means a lot of collaboration and a focus on small deliverable outputs rather than big project plans and visions. For a documentation specialist, it means you’re going to be on your toes! Writing documentation for applications that are being developed in an Agile environment is like walking on a rolling deck. You must balance timely releases, manageable output, minimum viable requirements, and customer expectations with your own ability to pivot, update, manage, and feel effective (yes, human emotions matter!).
My Responsibilities Include…
At Keefe, I serve three types of customers, each of which require different types of documentation.
- Online knowledge bases
- Leave behind training tools
- Release announcements
- How do I guides
- Business intelligence dashboards
- Application development reports
- Sprint summaries
- Installation and configuration guides
- Project tracking checklists
- Documentation updates
The examples that follow are my work, but require a team: BAs, SMEs, Business Owners, et al.
The caliber of my colleagues is beyond awesome. My boss is beyond awesome. Her boss is beyond awesome. Our SMEs are beyond awesome.
I am very very lucky to work with people who know their products and are passionate about them. We work for a great company at a great time!
My Examples and Artifacts
Enough with the chit chat! Let’s see some deliverables!
End User Documentation
Executive Stakeholder Reports
Implementation Analyst and Project Manager Documentation
First Bank – Showing Off a Bit
The stuff below, is an attempt to present you with some of the more colorful aspects of my skill set and style. I consider myself very lucky to have worked in departments or for clients who have been willing to activate my creative and technical talents for their purposes.
How to Communicate to a Corporate Body
At First Banks, Inc., I worked in communications in both operations and information technology. Both positions involved communicating highly technical data to our entire corporate body – from grandmas to whiz kids. It was a fun and challenging task.
The following presentation explains the four methods that we used to communicate our policies and information security goals to the entire corporate body of First Banks, Inc.
Four Methods of Communication
At First Banks, Inc., we used four different methods to communicate to our corporate body:
- compulsory, online classes
- direct mail
- events and presentations
In my role as the Information Security Policy and Procedure Administrator at First Bank, I was directly responsible for all aspects of these communications – identifying the targets, the messages, the methods, and the followup.
1. Compulsory Online Classes
Most of our information security classes were designed for all levels of employees, so our communications strategy needed to be needle sharp: quick, punchy, easily digestible, and most importantly, effective.
I worked with our information security team to identify the core messages that we needed to communicate. Having established our required goals, I further compartmentalized them into easily digestible subcategories.
At First Bank, we utilized a proprietary testing application, but I built nearly all of the coursework in PowerPoint. I found PowerPoint to be effective, efficient, and easy to use. Most of the graphical elements were created in Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop, but all layouts, shapes, and text were created using PowerPoint.
2. Direct Mail
Yes, direct mail can be expensive and ineffective if done incorrectly.
At First Bank though, we did it right. Our direct mail communications efforts were effective for three primary reasons:
- First, the messages were never sent in isolation: we only used direct mail to bolster our other communication goals.
- Second, we used specially trained branch personnel, called Information Security Liaisons, to help disseminate our hard copy messages. These employees knew who, what, when, and how to use these communications pieces in their supported areas.
- Finally, we had fun with it. We utilized color, humor, sugar, name dropping, and wit.
What’s the big payback? Permanence. Handheld communications pieces stick around. A well-designed poster will continue to get attention and act as a reminder for several days. A letter with the CEO’s signature will retain importance and add credence to your efforts. A box of chocolates with informational stickers affixed to them pays you back with every return visit.
Email, I believe, has the potential to be the most ineffective medium of communication. Our number one goal isn’t the message. Our number one goal is getting the receiver to actually read the message before they hit delete!
As a communications designer, I was extremely lucky to work at a bank. Why? Because due to the high level of compliance regulations and proprietary software used within a bank, banks must have highly standardized software across the entire organization. Therefore, I could rest assured that my HTML/CSS email design would render identically on all employee computers. This allowed me to push the limits of the HTML/CSS email design.
At First Bank, we used email in four different ways:
- simple, single-message emails that were applicable to all employees
- targeted emails that were directed at a specific vector of employees
- newsletters that were directed to our security awareness steering committee members
- invitations and information about presentations or events
4. Events and Presentations
Events and presentations were used primarily to communicate general messages to branch personnel – not necessarily back office personnel. Because we had branches across the country, many of these presentations and events were conducted remotely, using SharePoint and other web based communications tools.
In order to coordinate and organize events and presentations across the country, we identified and trained key personnel in key branches. We called them Information Security Liaisons.
Our Information Security Liaisons were a fantastic help. If I needed to fly to Florida and give a presentation, our Info Sec Liaison would pave the way by ratcheting up awareness: reminding employees of messages that we’d sent, handing out flyers, ensuring that their direct reports were informed and communicating to their staff.
Also, I think that it’s important to note that these liaisons spoke the same cultural language as our target audiences in those areas: employees in Southern California are quite a bit different from employees in Houston, Texas, and all of them are different to me, a hick from Southern Illinois! I can’t say enough positive comments about our Liaisons. They were priceless.
Website and Logo Design
I’ve always been interested in web design. Going back as far as 1999, I began taking people’s websites apart in an attempt to learn how they worked. In 2004, I started developing websites for a small fee, and by 2010, I’d built up quite a portfolio.
Here are a couple samples…
Kenny Williamson is one of the coolest men whom I have ever met. He’s a great drummer, a diligent and tireless worker, and one helluva photographer.
What started out as a side project for Kenny, bloomed into a money maker. Kenny needed everything when we first got together: name, a logo, a look, everything.
After we knocked out those preliminary goals, we set down to decide architecture. Kenny had two requirements:
- He needed a presentation vehicle that he could easily manage
- The site needed to link to his online print ordering application
WordPress served both purposes. Seven years later, Kenny’s still taking great pics and the site is still rocking! Great stuff, Kenny!
Child of God Lutheran Church and School
For this project, I brought in some extra help – a colleague and long time friend, Christian Rusteberg. With Christian’s excellent project management skills, we were able to compartmentalize and expedite the process of developing the architecture for both sites.
Six years later, the church folk are still managing their own sites. I think total costs for them was like $500 or something ridiculous like that.
If you’re interested in my teaching work, please cruise on over to my Teaching Experience page. You’ll find some great videos of some wonderful kids doing some pretty cool things!