John Strylowski has over 30 years’ experience writing and reviewing regulations and directives for federal agencies; he has even more experience as the victim of poorly written and baffling material. Thus John is a long‑time member of the Plain Language Action and Information Network and a founding board member of the Center for Plain Language. John has developed and conducted training for writers at over 25 federal agencies, the State of New Jersey, and the Province of Ontario. Since 1998, he has been a speaker at Tulane University’s International Legislative Drafting Institute in New Orleans and has worked for three federal agencies as a management and regulatory analyst. He has also completely revised the Department of the Interior’s Freedom of Information Act regulations and revised various regulations for the National Park Service, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and others. John has a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin and an M.A. from the Catholic University of America.
As senior manager, Content Creation for Member & Provider Communications at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Amy is a tireless plain language editor and advocate. Working in collaboration with key communicators across the company, she has developed plain language training and a Keep it Simple with plain language campaign for Blue Cross employees. Amy brings a wealth of experience in health insurance, educational publishing, e-commerce, marketing, and communications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.
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). In 1995, he started a design - research consultancy in Belgium specializing in the testing of pharmaceutical information design. His company develops patient information leaflets, instructions, forms, protocols, and the information architecture for websites. Karel van der Waarde frequently publishes and lectures about visual information. Avans University of Applied Sciences (Breda, The Netherlands) appointed him as scholar in Visual Rhetoric between 2006 and 2014. From September 2014, he teaches (part time) at the Basel School of Design (Switzerland). Van der Waarde is a Life-Fellow of the Communications Research Institute (Melbourne, Australia), a board member of International Institute for Information Design (IIID, Vienna, Austria) and editorial board member of Information Design Journal, Journal of Communication Design, the Poster, Visible Language, and She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation.
Melua is a writer/editor with 13 years’ experience with New Zealand government agencies and businesses, from start-ups to multinationals. She managed one of New Zealand’s first digital content companies for a decade and now freelances from the East Coast. Plain language is central to all Melua’s work, which is motivated by a strong interest in the way design and content work together to make life easier for people. Before starting her own business, Melua studied design, political science, journalism and public relations, and worked in public sector communications in Wellington and Melbourne. This is her third year judging the ClearMark Awards.
Katherine Webb is a writer, editor and SEO specialist living in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She has ten years of experience creating easy-to-use content for the web. Since 2012, she's worked as a member of the digital team at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, where she has focused her efforts on making health insurance information easy for customers to understand. A lifelong film buff, she's also a contributing writer to several entertainment news and film criticism publications, including Cheat Sheet, ScreenRant and BrightWall/DarkRoom.
Russell Willerton is an associate professor of English at Boise State University, where he teaches courses in technical editing and document design. His PhD in technical communication and rhetoric is from Texas Tech University. 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 and the User Experience Professionals Association's User Experience magazine. Russell's book, Plain Language and Ethical Action: A Dialogic Approach to Technical Content in the Twenty-First Century, is available internationally from Routledge.
Erin has 12 years’ experience with Aetna. In 2013, she joined Aetna’s Brand Enterprise Marketing team. In her Content and Community Management role, she manages the content published across Aetna’s social media marketing channels (Tumblr, @Aetna twitter, Facebook, YouTube) and serves as an Aetna community manager. Prior to this role, she worked in provider and Medicare member communications as a writer for 8 years. She was also 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 also previously served as 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.
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