Meet our international panel of ClearMark judges.
Andres Echeverri, Lead Spanish Judge
Andres is the President of ACSI Translations (ACSI). Under his leadership, ACSI has grown from a $20,000 initial investment in 2010 to a full-blown operation offering technical translation, interpretation, and localization services in over 80 languages with offices in Washington, DC. He is originally from Colombia, South America, and recently became an American Citizen. Andres brings 25 years of Inter-American business and finance experience to ACSI Translations, including as Chief Financial Officer for a $35 million private equity group owned by South American principals and based in Rockville, Maryland.
Cynthia Eve Ash is a business communication instructor and consultant living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She holds a master’s degree in English language and literature from the University of Michigan. A university English literature and writing teacher for 20 years, Eve currently teaches written communication for the Spears School of Business of Oklahoma State University and conducts writing training for corporate and government clients..
Christopher Balmford — a former lawyer with Baker & McKenzie and DLA Phillips Fox — is the:
Also, Christopher is the immediate past president of Clarity, a worldwide group of lawyers and others who advocate using plain language (see Clarity).
Cynthia Baur, Ph.D., is the Senior Advisor for Health Literacy and the senior official for the Plain Writing Act, Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). She chairs the CDC Health Literacy Council and manages the CDC health literacy web site and blog. She is one of the co-developers of CDC’s Clear Communication Index and online health literacy training for health professionals. She is a co-chair of the HHS Health Literacy Workgroup and co-chair of the Healthy People 2020 Health Communication and Health Information Technology Workgroup. In 2013, Dr. Baur received the Cecilia and Leonard Doak Health Literacy Champion Award from Health Literacy Missouri. In 2013, the American Medical Writers Association awarded Dr. Baur the McGovern Award in recognition of her leadership in the areas of health communication, health literacy, and risk communication. Dr. Baur holds a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of California, San Diego.
Javier is a user experience (UX) & usability consultant based in Barcelona working for the university, US Government, healthcare research and Latino markets. He is a native of Barcelona with 17 years of work experience in the USA including 7 years as UX & usability lead for Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. He is a passionate observer of humans using things with a commitment to create plain language services by transforming complex tasks, and end user requirements into simple usable solutions.
Kathryn is chief of the Plain Language and Content Division in the Office of Communications at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security. She also co-chairs the Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN), a volunteer group of U.S federal employees who promote the use of plain language throughout the government and manage plainlanguage.gov. PLAIN is the official interagency working group for the Plain Writing Act of 2010, the nation’s first federal law of its kind.
Dr. Janet T. Cherry is a communication and etiquette coach in Memphis, TN. Janet’s career includes corporate and independent consulting focusing on communication and etiquette. She transitioned from corporate work to the field of education as faculty in the Department of Management, The University of Memphis.
After 20 years in the corporate sector, Veronica Cool established Cool & Associates LLC in 2011 to provide marketing & community outreach, recruiting & staffing, management advisory services, and professional development for the Hispanic sector. Cool specializes in Diverse Segment outreach – in essence, how to engage this segment most effectively, whether through digital, coalition-building, events or a fully integrated plan.
Justine Cooper is Managing Editor at Australia’s Plain English Foundation. An experienced technical editor, she specializes in substantive plain English editing, document assessment and information design for government and business clients.
Karina Eldredge, MPA, is an analyst with Kleimann Communication Group, an independent consulting firm in Washington, DC, that specializes in consumer-centered qualitative research, plain language, visual communication, and consumer processing. Much of her work is focused on making complex information clear and usable by translating consumer-oriented documents into plain English.
Josiah grew up near Boston and went to Harvard University, where he received an AB with honors. A chance comment led to a job as an advertising copywriter, which in turn led to a series of projects to simplify the documents financial services firms send to clients.
Rachel Flagg has been a writer all her life – from writing plays and short stories as a child, to writing software training manuals, newsletters, communications and web content for 2 different federal agencies. She’s a published author and has been writing content for online publication since the late 1990s.
Rosa Margarita Galán Vélez
Rosa Margarita Galán Vélez holds Ph.D. in Education, Master's Degree in Comparative Literature and a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature. Since 1998, she has been head of the Academic Department of Languages and full-time professor at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM). She is a promoter of and administrator for plain language courses at ITAM's Law School.
Laura Granada Valencia
Ms. Laura Granada Valencia was born and raised in Colombia. She arrived in the U.S. in late 2001, and was awarded U.S. citizenship in March 2011. Ms. Granada Valencia had a fondness for the study of jurisprudence even in her formative years and academically pursued this passion to her completion of post graduate studies. She graduated from Rosario University in Bogota, Colombia in 2000 with a degree in Law, and subsequently attained a specialization in Administrative Law from the same institution.
Lynda is founder and director of Write Limited, New Zealand’s leading plain English communications company. Wellington-based Write has been well established in the professional services market for close to 20 years and has a broad client base of public and private sector clients. Write specializes in creating custom-built training solutions and provides a wide range of writing and advisory services.
Candi Harrison was Web Manager for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1995-2005. With Candi’s leadership, HUD won numerous awards, including the first Digital Government Citizen Services Award (2000).
A strategic analyst and writer with 40 years’ experience, Charlene Haykel is managing principal of The Haykel Group, a simplified communications consulting practice based in New York, and president & CEO of Simply Student Aid, LLC, which produced College Access: A Family Guide to Planning and Funding College. It was the 2012 Clearmark Award winner for best original document in the private sector.
As Principal, Director of User-Centered Design for CommunicateHealth, Inc., Sandy has over a decade of experience in qualitative research, user-centered design, and health communication. She has overseen numerous studies using a variety of communication and usability research methods to inform the development of messages, materials, and websites for diverse audiences. Sandy specializes in the development of online content for users with limited health literacy skills and limited experience with the Internet. She was the project director and a lead editor of Health Literacy Online: A Guide to Writing and Designing Easy-to-Use Health Web sites (2010) and speaks nationally on developing usable health websites. She holds an M.A. from the University of Georgia in Health Communication.
Barbra Kingsley, Ph.D. is a partner with the Kleimann Communication Group in Washington, DC. Dr. Kingsley has 18 years of experience as an award-winning information designer. She has developed plain language documents for numerous government agencies including the Department of Health and Human Services, the Internal Revenue Service, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the Veteran’s Benefits Administration. Her work has won awards from the Society for Technical Communication, the Center for Plain Language, and the National Association of Government Communicators.
Kristin is a senior researcher at Kleimann Communication Group. She has over 18 years of experience in developing award-winning, effective, and usable consumer products through plain language, information design, visual communication and consumer processing expertise. She has developed clear, usable, and user-centered products for numerous agencies including Food and Nutrition Services, Department of Health and Human Services, the Internal Revenue Service, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Planned Parenthood and Consumer’s Union.
Melinda G. Kramer
Melinda G. Kramer has been a communication consultant to businesses and industries including Choice Hotels, Eli Lilly & Co., TRW Inc., Clark Equipment Company, Blue Cross Blue Shield, General Electric, and Bell Telephone Company, and has led writing workshops for hundreds of college and university administrative staff throughout the nation. She is the author of journal articles and textbooks, including Business Communication in Context: Principles and Practice (Prentice Hall) and the Prentice Hall Handbook for Writers.
Dr. Guido Lara earned a Doctorate in Information Science from the Complutense University of Madrid in the program, "Theory of Communication and Methods of Social Research." He studied in the Department of Sociology IV, an academic body that shares lines of research and faculty from two schools: The School of Political Science and Sociology and The School of Information Science (dedicated to the study of communication, marketing and journalism). Dr. Lara's thesis, "Dissertations of Young Mexicans on Salinas's Modernization: A Concrete Application of the Discussion Group," was granted the summa cum laude distinction by unanimous decision. In his thesis, he developed the foundations of the methodology and technique of Discussion Groups (now knows as Open Groups, in contrast to the well-known Focus Groups, another qualitative methodology widely used in market research and public opinion studies).
Paul Lee is the Director of Strategic Design at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts where he leads an in-house creative agency responsible for copy/content development and user-experience design strategies to serve the business's 2.8 million members. Designing and communicating in plain language and with the customers' experience in mind is a balance the Blue Cross in-house agency strives for every day. Paul has 19 years of creative design experience working for The Economist, Time Inc., IDG, Source Interlink Publishers, and Blue Cross MA.
Greg Moriarty is the Plain English Foundation’s training manager.
Pamela Nieto joined the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in September 2012 as the Director of Marketing and Communications, directing its targeted marketing strategy. She manages production of over 50 events a year, including five major fundraising events which attract more than 3,000 guests. Additionally, she manages all media outreach, branding, conceptualization of media advisories and press releases, and builds relationships with Chamber members.
Claire runs the Irish National Adult Literacy Agency’s (NALA’s) Plain English Editing and Training Service. She is an experienced project manager and has managed the plain language editing of thousands of resources for the public and private sector. She has also managed and delivered plain English training to professionals across all sectors.
Jodi Patterson is a senior executive with the Internal Revenue Service. In 2008, as Director of Taxpayer Burden Reduction, she led a plain-language initiative to revise notices to taxpayers. With more than 200 million notices sent each year, the IRS received many complaints that notices were hard to understand. Jodi led the team that not only completely overhauled the design and language of IRS notices, but also reengineered the business processes, and created the IRS Office of Taxpayer Correspondence, responsible for the language in all notices and for continuing the plain writing effort. One of the first notices to be revamped won the Grand ClearMark Award in 2011.
Jennifer is the Health Literacy Program Manager at the Sutter Center for Integrated Care. A passionate advocate for patient engagement through plain language, she has more than 14 years of experience collaborating with clinicians to translate complex health care concepts into accessible and actionable content. Her experience includes developing training and tools to facilitate health literate care delivery in acute, ambulatory, home care and educational settings. As a result of her partnerships with clinical content experts, Jennifer earned ClearMark Awards of Distinction from the Center for Plain Language in 2012 and 2013.
Janice (Ginny) Redish
Ginny Redish has been a passionate evangelist for plain language for many years. Through her consulting practice, Redish & Associates, Inc., Ginny helps clients plan, organize, design, write, and test all types of communications.
Ruben E. Rodriguez
Appointed director of corporate communications in October 2009, Ruben Rodriguez is responsible for employee-related, internal communications; consumer, general public and safety-related external communications; and media relations for Washington Gas. He serves as the primary spokesperson for Washington Gas. Prior to his promotion, Mr. Rodriguez served Washington Gas as manager of corporate communications. Mr. Rodriguez joined the company in November 2007.
A longtime professional communicator, William Ryan is an ardent enthusiast and advocate of Plain Language. Over the last 15 years, he has worked to promote Plain Language in Government documents at the US Department of Agriculture, the National Partnership for Reinventing Government, the US Department of Homeland Security, and the Obama White House.
Leah Katherine Saal
Dr. Leah Katherine Saal is an Assistant Professor of Literacy at Loyola University Maryland, School of Education. She teaches graduate courses in literacy education and research. Saal is informed by her ongoing experiences teaching literacy to adults and older students in and out of school settings in urban communities. Leah Katherine's research agenda focuses on the intersectionality of literacy and social justice within community literacies, and her recent research assessed the clarity of U.S. government food assistance applications post Plain Writing Act. Saal serves on several international and national editorial review boards for adult and adolescent literacy/learning journals. This year, she will assume the co-editorship of Literacy & Social Responsibility eJournal, a journal of the International Reading Association.
Shannon Salinsky is a plain language subject matter expert with the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration and an Aviation Safety Inspector from Grapevine, Texas. She is assigned to the Flight Standards National Field Office (AFS-900), the Continual Improvement Office (CIPO) Automation and Policy Team. The CIPO writes policy and guidance for Volume 10, Air Transportation Oversight System (ATOS) and Safety Assurance System (SAS). She writes a “Plain Language Corner” article for the How Goes It newsletter. The newsletter is available quarterly to all Flight Standards inspectors to keep them apprised of the latest with ATOS and SAS database policy and guidance.
Michael Schwartz, a political scientist by training, retired from the federal government in 2009 after 33 years in the Department of the Interior. He spent the majority of his federal career working on regulations mineral resource policy, and budget.
Sherry B. Scott
Sherry Scott’s consulting experience ranges from the top of an oil storage tank to the corporate boardroom. From U.S. university classrooms to international corporate classrooms in Europe, Australia, and the Far East, she has taught business management and communication. In addition, Sherry worked as a corporate Human Resources Director where she was involved in all areas of human resources. She also edited an industry award-winning newsletter.
Claudia Siervo has more than 18 years of experience in research, management, and strategic planning. As a trained manager in technology and social issues, Claudia has extensive expertise in program planning and implementation, materials development, and developing outreach strategies for targeted multicultural populations. She has applied her skills in research and health communications to multiple U.S. Department of Health and Human Services agencies and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In addition to Federal Government agencies, Claudia has experience with nonprofit organizations and international business.
Katherine Spivey serves the General Services Administration’s Plain Language Launcher, coordinating GSA’s plain language program. She is also co-chair of the Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN) as well as a trainer, teaching plain language courses for Digital Gov University and numerous federal agencies.
Paul retired last year from the European Commission where he was head of the Editing Service. His other job was to run the Commission’s Clear Writing Campaign, which he launched in 2010. The Campaign is still going strong and the fifth Clear Writing Awards will take place later this year. Paul is a graduate of Oxford University where he studied Modern History and Modern Languages. Besides editing, he has worked in a number of different fields including accountancy, international trade, teaching and translation. He also spent four years as a European Union diplomat in Australia. Paul lives in Brussels, Belgium and is married with two grown-up children.
John Strylowski is a plain language consultant with over 30 years’ experience writing and reviewing regulations and directives for federal agencies. He has developed and conducted training for writers at over 25 federal agencies, the State of New Jersey, and the Province of Ontario. John has been a presenter for over 15 years at Tulane University’s International Legislative Drafting Institute. He has also written or edited plain-language handbooks and contributed to the Federal Plain-language Guidelines. John’s 42- year federal career included service as a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil and as a management and regulatory analyst at three federal agencies. He recently retired from the Department of the Interior, where he received the Department’s highest honor, the distinguished service award. He has also been a long-time member of the plain-language action and information network, a founding board member of the Center for Plain Language, and an elected Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in the District of Columbia.
Cherlin Varela was born and raised in Mexico City, Mexico. After several years studying in Spain, she relocated to the United States, where she officially became an American citizen.
Karel van der Waarde
Karel van der Waarde studied graphic design in the Netherlands (BA, The Design Academy, Eindhoven) and the UK (MA, De Montfort University, Leicester; PhD, University of Reading).
Melua is a founding director of digital content agency Writeclick. She has over 10 years’ experience planning, writing and editing web content for New Zealand government agencies, corporations and not-for-profit organizations. Before focusing on digital content, Melua was a communications advisor to central and local government.
Jimmy Wendt is currently a User Experience Researcher at Intel Security in Santa Clara, CA. In his role, he is responsible for a variety of research efforts centered on Intel's consumer security products and websites. Prior to joining Intel, Jimmy was a UX Researcher at UserTesting.com in Mountain View, CA. While there, he worked with clients whose domains included e-commerce, streaming video services, cloud software, and financial planning. Jimmy is originally from Brooklyn, NY, holds a B.A. in Psychology from Kenyon College and an M.S. in Human Factors Engineering from San Jose State University. His favorite movie is My Cousin Vinny.
Russell Willerton is an associate professor of English at Boise State University, where he teaches courses in technical communication. He received his PhD in technical communication and rhetoric from Texas Tech University in 2005. Russell worked previously as a feature reporter in public radio and as a technical writer. His recent articles have appeared in Business and Professional Communication Quarterly, the Society for Technical Communication's Intercom magazine, and the User Experience Professionals Association's User Experience magazine. Russell is a 2013 Fellow of the Boise State University Arts and Humanities Institute. His new book, Plain Language and Ethical Action (Routledge), will hit bookshelves in spring 2015.
Erin has 10 years’ experience with Aetna. Most recently, she joined Aetna’s social media team. Prior to this role, she worked in provider and Medicare member communications as a writer. She also is part of the group that created Aetna’s Writers’ Center for Excellence – an internal website that offers resources, tools and helpful information (including certification courses) to writers across the company. Erin is an instructor of Aetna’s internal plain language course, which teaches six principles of writing in plain language (avoid jargon, use short sentences, familiar words, active voice, bullets/lists) as well as how to use the Flesch-Kincaid tool in Microsoft Word to score writing. She is a member of Aetna’s brand task force, acting as a copy auditor and copy subject matter expert.