Dawn Stevens is director of CIDM, with the responsibility of identifying the latest critical topics of interest to information development managers and pursuing meaningful ways to support the community on those issues. In conjunction with the center’s advisory council, Dawn is in charge of:
- Keeping the community informed about the latest trends and best practices
- Selecting relevant and important conference themes for CIDM’s in-person and virtual conferences
- Recruiting dynamic keynote and session speakers for the conferences and webinars
- Soliciting thought-provoking articles for the CIDM Best Practices and enews publications
- Enabling communication and networking throughout the community
She takes these responsibilities very seriously as she has a deep passion for information development that started in high school and has grown throughout the years. Based on her love of science and math and her active involvement on the school newspaper and yearbooks, a career counselor suggested a career in technical writing, and Dawn has never looked back. Believing that the “technical” was just as important as the “writing,” Dawn received a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Physics from the Colorado School of Mines followed by a Masters of Science in Technical Communication from the University of Colorado Denver.
Following a short internship at Hewlett Packard, Dawn was fortunate to be hired by Comtech as she finished her Masters degree, giving her the opportunity to be personally trained by CIDM founder, Dr. JoAnn Hackos. For 10 years under JoAnn’s guidance, Dawn honed her project management, design, writing, and editing expertise, as she led content development projects, and she developed her instructional and presentation skills by speaking at numerous industry conferences and teaching Comtech workshops. In 1997, Dawn collaborated with JoAnn to write Standards for Online Communication (Wiley, 1997), a book providing best practices for writing online help and other online content.
As travel demands increased, Dawn, mother of two daughters, temporarily left Comtech, choosing to take a position at Jeppesen Sanderson, a wholly owned subsidiary of Boeing, so that she could be at home more often. At Jeppesen, Dawn provided instructional design expertise and eventually managed the Aviation Courseware department, which produced an assortment of textbooks, electronic courseware, and user manuals for pilots of all ratings. Dawn found that her time at Jeppesen exposed her to the political and cultural realities that CIDM members face daily, making her a more empathetic consultant when she returned to Comtech and CIDM in 2010.
Since that return, Dawn has added to her solid writing and training experience, expanding it to include XML and DITA technologies, topic-based structured authoring, taxonomy design, Agile management strategies, and dynamic publishing. With JoAnn, she wrote Introduction to DITA, 2nd Edition (Comtech Services, 2011), a guided tutorial for learning the basic elements and capabilities of the Darwin Information Typing Architecture standard. She teaches all 14 workshop offerings from Comtech, having personally designed and written over half of them, and she is a frequent presenter at CIDM and other industry conferences.
In February, 2017, Dawn took over the reigns and ownership of both CIDM and Comtech as JoAnn retired. She is committed to upholding and furthering the charters of these organizations, namely to help the information development community produce effective information products for their users. Dawn invites you to contact her directly with questions, concerns, innovations, and ideas that the CIDM community can address and support at firstname.lastname@example.org.