In Memoriam: Suzanna Laurent

It is with sadness that I write this. Suzanna Laurent, former STC president who presented to our chapter in a previous year, passed away on December 26, 2011, just two days short of her birthday.

I first met Suzanna when she spoke to STC RMC in 2002 about “Living in Hiding: Technical Communicators and Their Hidden Value.” She truly embodied the extraordinary value that technical communicators provide. I next saw her at the Region 7 Conference president’s reception in Vancouver in 2002. She was warm, welcoming, and funny. As an Oklahoman, she truly exhibited the open, friendly values one associates with “Okies.”

At the end of the conference, a couple of members asked me to sign a petition to place Suzanna on the ballot – she was with them and was visibly embarrassed. I signed the petition, not really knowing Suzanna personally or professionally at the time. In hindsight, I was so glad I did because she was one of the best presidents STC had. Suzanna always had STC’s best interests at heart and she demonstrated her exceptional leadership abilities during a very difficult and tumultuous time in STC’s history. She epitomized grace under fire as STC was nearly at the breaking point. Her leadership is one of the reasons the society still exists today.

Suzanna and I worked together when I was finishing my term on the Nominating Committee and she was tapped to manage the future committee. She first said that she hoped she wasn’t stepping on any toes, but the board believed it was imperative that a former board member should manage the Nominating Committee. Suzanna asked me how we could improve the nominating process. She read the new policies and procedures document I co-authored with another committee member and thanked me for our work. Our committee encountered some challenging situations so our task was to ensure that future committees had the appropriate information in a clear document to guide them through a fair and impartial nomination process. Suzanna was genuinely interested in improving the process, given that she previously faced obstacles from entrenched processes within STC.

Suzanna was extremely professional and had some great ideas. We shared several good conversations and as we ended our work, we wished each other well in our endeavors. When I learned of her cancer diagnosis, I sent her an encouraging card – I heard that she was too weak to correspond, but that she loved to receive cards.

Mary Jo Stark, former treasurer of both our chapter and STC, said of Suzanna, “I spent 6 years on the Board of Directors with Suzanna. During her year as president, the Society was undergoing great change; Suzanna taught me how to think clearly, move in the right direction, and not look back when dealing with difficult situations. She also flew to Denver to spend a weekend together discussing STC finances; I was so impressed that she would take that much time to fully understand every nuance of the Society. And during that weekend, I really got to know Suzanna as a friend.”

Suzanna was definitely a consummate professional. She will be missed. See more information here.

About Martha Sippel

Martha Sippel is an STC Fellow who has developed and presented compelling, accurate technical material for more than 35 years. She consistently receives recognition for her contributions, from the Distinguished Chapter Service Award to international awards for her work on CH2M HILL's intranet and was recognized for being an outstanding mentor to STC's Charlotte Regional Chapter. Martha is a Park Meadows Metropolitan District board director, a South Suburban Park Foundation (501c3) board trustee, a Certified Interpretive Guide (National Association for Interpretation or NAI), and volunteers for the STC Rocky Mountain Chapter (RMC), and her HOA. She served as a City of Lone Tree Planning Commissioner from 2008-2015 and a User Experience Professionals Association (UXPA) editorial board member from 2007-2017. As Principal of AzuWrite LLC, she helps design effective user interfaces for websites and web applications and provides user experience, usability, and information architecture expertise to clients.
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