April 2017 Newsletter 

You’re invited to the ClearMark party!

The annual ClearMark awards ceremony and dinner is always fun and festive! It’s happening at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, on May 9—and you don’t want to miss it! The awards reception and dinner give you a great chance to network with other plain language advocates and professionals, and you’ll get to see the best of the best from your colleagues around the country. 

While you’re there, learn from a graphics expert

The afternoon before the ClearMark event, plan to attend a workshop with Dona Wong, author of “The Wall Street Journal Guide to Information Graphics” and former graphics director at The Wall Street Journal. The topic of the workshop—for Center members and friends—is how to use data to enhance your message.

Now vice president and head of digital strategy at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Dona is an expert in conceptualizing and producing information graphics that millions of demanding readers can easily understand. She has advised Fortune 500 companies and major government agencies on strategic communications. Dona received her MFA in information design from Yale, where Edward Tufte, a pioneer in the field of data visualization, was her thesis advisor. Read more about her: http://donawong.com/


Dona will show us:

–How to turn data into a compelling, persuasive story.
–How to use graphics effectively in your presentations.
–The Dos and Don’ts of information graphics: common pitfalls and how to avoid them.

The workshop will start with networking from 1-1:45 and continue until 4:30. Register now at http://centerforplainlanguage.org/clearmark/workshop-datas-not-dull-it-tells-a-great-story/ As always, Center members can register at a discount.

Can’t be there? Here’s a virtual chance to grow your accessibility skills

The Center is teaming with accessibility expert David Berman to offer a ½-day online course on June 14: The New Standard on Accessibility: WCAG 2.0 

David’s commitment is to design a better world that leaves no one behind. “Web and document accessibility for people with disabilities is our most practical example of how doing good is also good business,” David says on the website for David Berman Communications. Governments in four countries, private sector companies, and NGOs use David’s strategies on what to do and how to do it—and he’ll share some of those during the online course.

David gave a workshop last year before the ClearMark Awards in Washington—but now his expertise will be available to anyone, no matter where you are. Register here: https://www.davidberman.com/2017-june-14-accessibility-course/  

Center members may use these codes to get a discount:

  • Center Members: CPLMEMBER
  • Center Government & Non-profit Non-Members: CPLGOV
  • Center Non-Members: CPLROCKS


A tribute to a volunteer extraordinaire: Barbra Kingsley

Barbra Kingsley, PhD, partner at Kleimann Communication Group, is this newsletter’s volunteer hero! For starters, she filled the critical role of lead judge for the 2017 ClearMark awards. She coordinated the efforts of 47 plain language specialists from around the world, making sure experts reviewed and rated each one of the more than 130 entries.

In addition, the Center last year agreed to edit Clarity JournalNo 75, and Barbra served as Guest Editor. The theme of “fine print” and how to cope with it made for a fascinating read.  And that’s not all. Last fall, she facilitated an interactive 2-day meeting of the Center board, helping us refine the board’s structure and function more smoothly.  And she made it fun!

Barbra’s a long-time colleague of our Board Chair, Susan Kleimann, who said, “Barbra is a true gem. We are lucky she shared her skills with the Center this past year.  And we sure hope there’s more to come.” Thank you, Barbra!

A fond farewell and a warm welcome

DeeDee Moxley, the Center’s executive director, has resigned so she can spend more time with her daughter. DeeDee has upped the level of professionalism for the Center and contributed so many creative ideas to keep us organized and moving forward. We will miss her but wish her the best! And we hope she won’t be a stranger to the Center as she has so much knowledge and expertise that can continue to benefit us. Thank you, DeeDee, for your commitment and creativity!

Meanwhile, welcome Christine LaFortune as the Center’s new executive director who will work with DeeDee during a short transition. Christine has more than 30 years of experience in writing, editing, graphics, and marketing communications. Now a Senior Proposal Manager for MAXIMUS, Inc., she manages the development of government proposals for health and human services projects. Before, she was Creative Director, Copy Chief, and Account Manager for two marketing agencies, serving clients such as Adobe, Wells Fargo, Chase, and Federated Department Stores. A former instructor of copy editing and proofreading, she has managed large teams of writers and designers, encouraging them to write plainly to best persuade readers. We are excited to add her to the Center team!

We are fortunate that Amy Hasselkus has agreed to stay on as associate executive director. Thanks, Amy, for your willingness to partner with Christine!

Looking for new board members to join our merry band

Interested in contributing more to the cause of clear communication? Want to expand your professional network and grow your leadership skills? The Center for Plain Language board has some openings.

What’s expected? Board members:

  • Must be Center members.
  • Are elected by membership to serve 3-year terms, July 1-June 30.
  • Are expected to chair a committee.
  • Must attend 2 in-person board members each year, as well as monthly phone calls.
  • Are expected to support the Center financially, either personally, through their business or non-profit, or by raising money from others.

We would love to hear from board candidates with special events and fund-raising experience and ideas. We can’t have enough of that!

The Center has deliberately worked to expand participation and influence outside of the DC Beltway; today board members live in cities across the country. Geography should not be a barrier! If you’re interested or want more information, email Nominations Committee chair joannelocke@gmail.com.

PLAIN conference to focus on customer relationships

The website for the #PLAIN2017 conference is now live. PLAIN’s 11th international conference will be held September 21-23 in Graz, Austria, and the theme is “Improving Customer Relationships.” Check it out!

Spread the word

The Center asks all members and friends to be ambassadors for plain language by helping us get the word out about events, projects, and volunteer opportunities. Please let your professional associations and colleagues know what we’re doing. Share. Post. Tweet. Whatever. Be an ambassador for the Center for Plain Language!