Carren Kaston has a doctorate in English literature and taught writing, literature, and film history at Washington and Lee University. Since leaving academe, she has worked in Washington, DC, as a consulting writer and editor for clients as diverse as the Library of Congress and the Department of Defense, as well as non-governmental entities such as Catholic Relief Services in Baltimore and an academic historian in Turkey. She brings intellectual creativity and rigor to her projects and tries to free government prose of jargon, indirection, and cloudy expression. That has been a particular goal of hers in working on the Federal Aviation Administration’s annual Performance and Accountability Reports (PARs) for Congress and helping the Department of Defense with its “travel policy simplification” effort, directed at streamlining and making more user-friendly the department’s travel bible, the venerable 1600-page Joint Travel Regulations (JTR).
Barbra Kingsley, Ph.D. is a Partner with the Kleimann Communication Group in Washington, DC. Dr. Kingsley has over 20 years of experience as an award-winning information designer. She has developed plain language documents for such government agencies as the Department of Health and Human Services, the Internal Revenue Service, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Her work has won awards from the Society for Technical Communication, the Center for Plain Language, and the National Association of Government Communicators. In addition, Dr. Kingsley has extensive experience field-testing documents with end users. This testing assesses how well typical people can understand, navigate, and use information for the desired outcomes. She also creates hands-on training that conveys how to use the principles of plain language in everyday projects. She has served as a judge for several plain language competitions around the world, including the distinguished WriteMark New Zealand Plain English Awards and the Center for Plain Language’s ClearMark Awards.
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, Bell Telephone Company, as well as leading 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. Melinda is Emerita Professor of English at Prince George’s Community College in Maryland, serving 11 years as English Department chair. She has taught business and managerial communication for over 30 years to undergraduates and MBA students at Georgetown University and Purdue University. Before joining the Prince George's faculty, she spent ten years as director of management communications at Purdue’s business school. Professor Kramer received her B.A. from Earlham College and her M.A. and Ph.D. from Purdue University.
Christine LaFortune has more than 30 years of experience in writing, editing, graphics, and marketing communications. Currently a Senior Proposal Manager for MAXIMUS, Inc., she manages the development of government proposals for health and human services projects. Previously, 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 to desired behaviors.
Katy Magee is Director of Editorial Strategy at Healthwise, a nonprofit organization with a mission to help people make better health decisions. She joined the medical writing staff at Healthwise in 1997 and has been part of the content development team there ever since. She has worked as a writer and editor for health handbooks, online health content, hospital discharge instructions, interactive health tools, and patient decision aids. Today she leads a team in creating award-winning, plain-language content that supports shared decision making and health behavior change. Katy earned a B.A (History) from Trinity University and an M.A. (U.S. History) from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Debra Hart May, M.S., has more than twenty years' experience in business communications consulting, writing and speaking skills coaching, and training design and development. Founder and president of the Center for Effective Communication, Inc. (established 1992), she designs instructional materials and creates cost-effective performance-improvement solutions for dozens of business clients. She also coaches one-on-one and facilitates training workshops in business writing, business presentation skills, and other interpersonal communication skills. Her clients includes Eli Lilly and Company, Roche Diagnostics, Rolls-Royce Corporation, IU Health, WellPoint, Dow Agrosciences, and the U.S. Department of Labor. Deb is past-president of the Indianapolis Chapter of the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI), past board member for the Association of Professional Communication Consultants, and author of Proofreading Plain & Simple, and Everyday Letters for Busy People published by Career Press.
Anne McCann has been a strong supporter of plain language for more than 20 years when she spearheaded the Department of Veterans Affairs Reader-Focused Writing project, which won Vice President Gore’s Hammer Award. At Kleimann Communication Group, Anne led plain language projects for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and for a multi-agency group redesigning financial privacy notices. Her work on the IRS CP2000 notice was recognized with a Distinguished Technical Communication Award of Excellence by the Society for Technical Communication. She finds it gratifying to see the results when she receives annual financial privacy notices and when she refinanced her home. Anne currently serves as the National Emergency Programs Coordinator for USDA’s Animal Care Program. She has previously served as an all-hazards planner at the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, as Executive Director of the Delaware Humane Association, and as a program analyst for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Janice Monarrez is content strategy team leader at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Janice coaches the content team in creating simple and useful digital interactions for customers. She helps guide the company’s digital content analysis, workflows and governance. Janice began her experience with plain language as a journalist. She's been a writer, editor, designer and creative manager for print and digital media.
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