30 Years of SD/PEN

Compiled by Katie Barry

sdpen-square-large-whitebgThis year marks SD/PEN’s 30th anniversary. As hundreds of members have come through our “doors,” we thought it was an appropriate time to seek out the memories of some of our long-term members and leaders. Their reflections give us cause to celebrate the origins of this organization, its storied journey, and our bright future.  

Shirley Clukey, First Board President
I joined SD/PEN because I wanted to get to know other editors and learn from them after completing UCSD’s copyediting certification course back in 2001.

The person I remember most from my first few meetings is Maggi Payment Kirkbride. Her friendliness and enthusiasm put me at ease, something all newbies need. Sometimes it’s even harder for older newbies, because others assume we’re old pros. Maggi never made me feel silly for asking beginner questions.

In 2011, I joined SD/PEN’s Steering Committee, which later became SD/PEN’s Board of Directors. I’m proud of the role I played that year in getting SD/PEN’s legal nonprofit status established. Maybe I shouldn’t have worked so hard, because by 2012 I was elected president of the board, a challenging but fulfilling two-year tenure, a time filled with appreciation and admiration for the other board members who worked so hard and were so much fun to work with.

Our board obtained insurance to protect SD/PEN from liabilities, set up policies to guide SD/PEN smoothly through future transitions in leadership, established full- and half-day workshops, and instituted an annual drawing prize.

Jackie Estrada, Co-founder
It’s amazing to me that SD/PEN is still around after more than 30 years. Those of us who gathered in my living room on March 5, 1986, just wanted to come up with a way for editors in the San Diego area to talk about our profession and to socialize with like-minded individuals. That first meeting grew out of an idea suggested by Kittie Kerr Kuhns (director of publications for Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the time) and freelancer Julie Olfe. They were lamenting the fact that they had no one to chat with about such things as the fine points of editing and the difficulties of dealing with authors. We could never have known at the time that the seeds were being sown for an organization that would produce publications and workshops, create networking opportunities, host guest speakers, or even have a website.

It was great getting to see many of the members from the group’s early years when we held the big 25th anniversary celebration five years ago. That may have been my favorite SD/PEN event. But mostly I’m just glad to have met so many great people through my involvement with the organization, and I’m glad it continues to this day!

Kathi George, Longtime Member and Frequent Program Presenter
The educational programs that SD/PEN offered were the most valuable part of my active 25-year membership. I was honored to be a contributor to presentations, workshops, and panels on fiction editing, book production, and bias-free language. I had great fun writing a column about typos for DELETE that I called "Misspelling Cincinnati." I served on many years' worth of steering committees and program committees and made some close friends inside our association of professional editors. Congratulations on 30 years, SD/PEN!

Andrea Glass, Longtime Member and Frequent Program Presenter
I joined SD/PEN more than 20 years ago to network with others in my profession. I've enjoyed the programs that helped further my education in my field. I've also enjoyed being a presenter and sharing what I've learned. Through my membership, I've attained clients as well as a long-term teaching position with UCSD. My favorite time was the anniversary party a few years ago when I reconnected with many other longtime members and enjoyed meeting new ones, as well as some of my students.

Melanie Astaire Witt, Immediate Past President
When I became president of the board in 2014, I thought I had experienced all there was to SD/PEN. During my previous two years as a director, I had found a great group of like-minded people seeking educational experiences in editing and business. Beyond finding other editors to learn alongside, I had built strong professional and personal relationships. I had also attended many great program meetings, super workshops, and delightful celebratory networking parties. But we’re a strange breed we work-alone editors, and as such, we really need other editors in our lives. So I’m most grateful for those members whom I call my friends and for their availability to chat when a lonely editor needs a lift or for their input on an editing dilemma.

Chris Zook, Current President
I’ll never forget sitting next to Hilary Achauer at my very first SD/PEN program meeting in 2007. She graciously answered all my newb questions about her work and SD/PEN. Eight years later, I reached out to her to ask if she would participate in a panel discussion—the very first program meeting I organized as SD/PEN’s new board president. That well-received program on job bidding was greatly enhanced by Hilary’s insights as well as those of longtime member Lynette Smith and past member Anita Palmer.

I am very grateful for the continued involvement of SD/PEN’s many current and past members and leaders. SD/PEN could never have grown the way it has without everyone’s support and dedication.

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