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Experienced information wizard with diverse background in research, teaching, editing, and journalism. Proven ability to motivate teams, solve information problems, and write highly technical content that’s approachable and usable. Collaborates with technical, support, and marketing experts to improve user experiences and help real people do their jobs.
Technical Communication Experience
Documentation Manager, Jive Software, 2010-2016
- Led a small team of senior writers in creating interface text and product information for an enterprise social collaboration software suite
- Created product information in a range of formats and media, including context-sensitive Help, in-product assistance text, whitepapers, upgrade communications, blogs, and social media posts.
- Successfully managed the transition from supporting large, planned software releases to rapid-cycling Agile development with SAAS and cloud deployment
- Maximized an existing DITA XML topic repository of several thousand topics to target specific audiences and versions based on a single, filtered code source
- Replaced an intimidating Help build sequence of manual command-line procedures with simplified build files and regular automated builds
- Assembled and maintained a group knowledge base of documentation procedures, technical tips, and best practices
- Created an Internet community presence for the writing team that encouraged customer feedback and created positive customer relationships
- Improved release communications to measurably improve customer change management and deflect support cases: contributed Known Issues reporting that was the single largest factor in reducing cases during cloud deployments this year
- Worked with global engineering teams to integrate multiple new products and acquisitions into the documentation base
- Regularly presented documentation team initiatives company-wide through blogging, online collaboration, and informal presentations
Senior Technical Writer, NetIQ Corporation/WebTrends Inc., 2004-2010.
- As member of three-person team, created and maintained online Help and print documentation for enterprise-level Internet navigation tracking software. Concurrently rewrote, reorganized, and edited a large set of existing documentation ranging from highly technical reference materials to basic handbooks for report users. Contributed to formal release planning by writing and revising documentation project plans.
- Spearheaded the creation and adoption of a style guide and a set of standard documentation procedures; served as informal editorial consultant to Documentation and Engineering groups.
- Worked with Technical Support, Marketing, Engineering, and Training groups to identify needs for internal and customer-facing documents.
- Collaborated with these groups to produce white papers, FAQs, and customer best practice guides. Provided technical and editorial feedback on training materials and Web site copy.
- Provided user experience and design feedback to the User Interface team and identified many technical bugs while routinely testing software procedures.
- Conducted workshops in user-centered documentation and single-sourcing for new writers.
- Wrote a global assessment of documentation tools and procedures processes that is currently being used as the basis for long-range Engineering planning roadmap.
Technical Writer, NetIQ Corporation, 2001-2004.
- Created and maintained all online Help and print documentation for two small-business software tools that report on activity in firewall logs. Worked with cross-site marketing and technical team to ensure documentation materials responded to customer needs.
- Communicated with firewall vendors to enhance technical accuracy of firewall-specific configuration guides.
- Overhauled documentation process, replacing hand-maintained HTML files with a single-sourced online Help solution for greater efficiency and consistency.
- Worked with programmers to standardize terminology in user interface design.
Technical Writer, Ganymede Software/NetIQ Corporation, 1999-2001.
- Documented a variety of network testing and monitoring programs used by network administrators.
- Managed technical content of company Web site, collecting information from Documentation, Engineering, and Technical Support teams and editing Web content in HTML.
- Created a planning guide to help users deploy an advanced network monitoring program across multiple sites in an international network.
Technical Writer, LEARN NC, Summer 1997.
- Wrote hard-copy and online documentation for the early phases of an interactive Web site serving North Carolina schoolteachers.
- Compiled and wrote guidelines on copyright law as applied to Internet posting of lesson plans.
- “Designing Information for Growth”: WritetheDocs North America, May 2015. Abstract at http://www.writethedocs.org/conf/na/2015/speakers/#speakermdevoto
- “Socializing Content Creation” (with Leona Campbell and Melanie Jennings): Lavacon, 2013. Abstract at http://lavacon.org/2013/maryadevotomelaniejenningsleonacampbell/
Other Writing and Editing Experience
Editorial Intern, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1999-2000.
Read and reported on manuscripts; tracked and responded to manuscript queries and other author correspondence.
Columnist, Chapel Hill News, 1998-2000.
Wrote monthly essays on cooking, academic life, and various other subjects for local newspaper.
Editorial Assistant, Victorians Institute Journal, 1998-1999.
Wrote manuscript reports and assisted with journal operations.
Co-Coordinator and Director of Publicity, Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century British Women Writers Conference, 1996-1998.
Planned a successful international literature conference: directed publicity efforts; wrote press releases; supervised production of flyers, posters, and programs; assisted in writing successful grant proposals and fundraising letters.
Staff Writer and Columnist, Daily Tar Heel, 1994-1996.
Wrote feature articles and book reviews as well as a popular weekly column combining opinion pieces with recipes for award-winning campus newspaper with a circulation of more than 20,000.
Co-Editor, The Active Voice, 1993-1994.
Co-wrote and designed biweekly newsletter serving the UNC Chapel Hill English Department’s faculty and graduate students.
Ph.D. in Nineteenth-Century British Literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Completed all but dissertation. Passed doctoral exams with highest honors and won three non-service fellowship awards. Two academic publications: titles available on request.
M.A. in English Literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
B.A. cum laude in English and Anthropology, Tufts University