Meet the 2018 ACES board candidates

Meet the 2018 ACES board candidates

February 7, 2018 By Neil Holdway ACES News

The 2018 election for the Board of Directors of ACES: The Society For Editing began Feb. 15 and concluded March 1.

Twelve ACES members were running for six positions. Candidates for president and vice president were unopposed. The top four of 10 nominees for the at-large positions will be seated. All terms are two years in length.

The candidates are presented below in order of the position sought and then in alphabetical order. You'll see biographical information and their answers to questions we asked about what they can offer ACES and what their ideas are for the future of the organization.

All information, including photographs, was provided by the candidates.

For questions, write ACES Secretary Neil Holdway at


President: Sara Ziegler

Vice President: Samantha Enslen

At large:

FOR PRESIDENT: Sara Ziegler, Editor, FiveThirtyEight (self-nominated)

About her work: I'm a general editor at FiveThirtyEight, a data journalism website, where I edit stories on politics, sports, science and pop culture.

Her contribution to ACES: I have been the treasurer of ACES for three years, overseeing all finances of the organization. As an ACES board member, I've helped to plan and run the national conferences, and I've also served as a trainer for ACES boot camps.

Why she feels she's the best candidate for this position: I'm passionate about this organization and its mission to be a resource for editors. At my first conference 18 years ago, I made a contact that led to my initial job out of college, setting the stage for my entire career. ACES should offer opportunities like that to any editor.

What she envisions for ACES during her tenure: ACES' biggest strength is its diverse membership. We will advocate for the importance of editing in any situation, and we will continue reaching out to editors of all stripes, offering new avenues of training, networking and support.

FOR VICE PRESIDENT: Samantha Enslen, President, Dragonfly Editorial (self-nominated)

About her work: Samantha Enslen runs Dragonfly Editorial, an agency that provides writing and editing services to customers worldwide.

Her contribution to ACES: I have been a member of the ACES board for the past four years. I have presented at five ACES conferences and have co-taught four ACES boot camps. In 2014, I helped to "reboot" the quarterly ACES newsletter and create Tracking Changes. It's now a publication that features insights into the editorial world, tips and tricks related to editing, and the accomplishments of our many members around the world.

Why she feels she's the best candidate for this position: The role of the vice president of the ACES board is largely to "manage" the organization. He or she oversees daily operations of the group, whereas the president is more responsible for determining direction and vision. Because I've spent the past 12 years growing my own business and managing its day-to-day affairs -- from finances to workflow to client development -- I feel uniquely qualified for this operational role.

What she envisions for ACES during her tenure: My vision for ACES is threefold: (1) ensure the organization operates smoothly, ethically, and efficiently; (2) encourage educational programs that support our largest-growing membership category -- freelancers -- while maintaining a diverse range of programs that support ALL our membership groups; and (3) continue making Tracking Changes a valuable resource for our members.

FOR THE BOARD: Lindsey Alexander, self-employed writer and editor (self-nominated)

About her work: Copyediting government, academic, nonprofit, and corporate documents; leading teams of editors in this pursuit; writing articles; creating content (social, podcast, marketing); maintaining business.

Her contribution to ACES: Member since 2013, participated in ACES chats on Twitter, and attended the conference in 2014 in Las Vegas.

Why she feels she's the best candidate for this position: As ACES' freelance membership grows, I can advocate from that position for programming that supports it. Alongside my writing and editing talents, I can contribute listening skills and humor. Team projects with many moving pieces are where I thrive because of my curiosity, knack for nuance, and ability to compromise.

What she envisions for ACES during her tenure: Three programs I would especially like to help build are: 1) an e-conference option (a reduced fee for video streaming of sessions), 2) enhanced opportunities for regional meetups between annual conferences, and 3) an anonymized, searchable ACES salaries/rates database to ensure members can ask for fair and equal pay.

How her involvement in ACES, or anywhere else, prepared her for a leadership role in ACES: As a 4-year member of ACES, I’ve experienced the value of the Society’s professional network through continuing education (in ACES chats, the Vegas conference, and handouts), fostering community, and securing clients. My desire to be a leader in ACES stems from an intention to make the organization an even more democratized, useful resource for members. This builds on my current and past professional roles as a lead editor, freelancer, and college lecturer. In these roles, I’ve learned to be an advocate for myself and others, to balance the interests of multiple stakeholders, to listen, and, ultimately, to act.

FOR THE BOARD: Laura M. Browning, Executive Editor, The A.V. Club (Onion Inc.) (self-nominated, incumbent)

About her work: Executive Editor, The A.V. Club (Onion Inc): I oversee operations for the site, including the copy desk and editorial budget and calendar.

Her contribution to ACES: I've nearly completed my first term as an ACES board member, and it's been a blast: I co-taught the first two advanced editing bootcamps, and I led merchandising efforts for our ACES conference in 2017. I'm active on Twitter and enjoy getting people excited about ACES and copy editing.

Why she feels she's the best candidate for this position: I'm invested in diversifying our membership and our conference, and getting to know more members and your concerns and interests. I got ACES off to a great start with merchandise last year, and I'm excited to keep developing those efforts to bring you the best copy editing swag.

What she envisions for ACES during her tenure: I hope to continue learning what you want from ACES, and helping you make online and real-life connections with each other, so that we can continue to learn best practices from each other within our respective industries. I'm committed to diversity, inclusiveness, and the very best copy editing swag.

How her involvement in ACES, or anywhere else, prepared her for a leadership role in ACES: Leadership is as much about listening as it is having a voice at the table. I’ve made many connections at ACES conferences and bootcamps, and hear many great suggestions, ideas, and criticism from our members. Our members are the foundation of our organization, so my experience as a member is essential to being a strong leader. My day job is running a pop culture website, so I’m well practiced in translating visions into actions as well as synthesizing info from many different people and viewpoints.

FOR THE BOARD: John Cords, Managing Editor, National Foreign Language Center, University of Maryland (self-nominated)

About his work: I manage a team of editors at a nonprofit that produces learning and assessment materials for learners of less-commonly taught foreign languages.

His contribution to ACES: My contributions have been fairly minimal so far, but I'm eager to find additional ways of participating. I have been a member of ACES for several years, attended two conferences, presented on editing translations at the Pittsburgh conference, and wrote an article for a 2015 issue of Tracking Changes.

Why he feels he's the best candidate for this position: I'm enthusiastic about serving our profession. I've been an editor for nearly twelve years, and I'm at a point in my career when I am confident that I can take on leadership roles in the profession. I bring extensive experience in working in nonprofits and in educational materials production (as well as other sectors). This is an important segment of the profession, one that ACES could do more to serve. I would welcome the opportunity to help in this regard.

What he envisions for ACES during her tenure: As mentioned above, I would love to reach out to editors who work in nonprofits and other types of nontraditional publishing venues. Many editors work for nonprofits, NGOs, government organizations, businesses, educational institutions, and more, and I'd like to see ACES build its membership and services in these areas.

How his involvement in ACES, or anywhere else, prepared him for a leadership role in ACES: The main thing that has prepared me for a leadership role in ACES has been my six years of experience managing a team of editors. This has prompted me to become more efficient, a better communicator, and more empathetic. It has also helped me develop an ability to understand how organizations work and how they don’t work; consequently, it has given me plenty of practice helping organizations better serve their mission. Though I am an introvert at heart, managing others has helped me get better at working with other personalities, a skill that would come in handy if elected.

FOR THE BOARD: Alysha S. Love, Multi-platform Editor, CNN Politics (self-nominated, incumbent)

About her work: Alysha is multi-platform editor for CNN Politics, where social media, programming, analytics, audience development and editing are all part of her daily work in Washington.

Her contribution to ACES: I've been a member of ACES since I was a student, when I dedicated my senior spring break to the national conference. I was thrilled to join the executive committee in 2016. On the board, I've planned conferences, analyzed our social media strategy and helped shape the new website.

Why she feels she's the best candidate for this position: After a term on the board, I'm equipped to take on a bigger role coordinating and thinking strategically about our conferences. I've loved engaging with our Instagram audience (follow us at @copyeditors) as I've expanded our social presence. And like all our members, I'm passionate about language and words.

What she envisions for ACES during her tenure: It's been exciting to watch ACES grow, not only in membership but in the breadth of industries represented. I'd like to see an ACES that reaches younger and more diverse editors across the country so they can tap into our excellent training, professional resources and, best of all, camaraderie.

How her involvement in ACES, or anywhere else, prepared her for a leadership role in ACES: I've led editing boot camps and a Poynter training on behalf of ACES as well as planned and executed projects on the board. I'm excited to use what I've learned in my first term on the board to keep leading the organization in its strategic planning for future conference locations, speakers and programming that keeps ACES editors on the cutting edge. In my newsroom, I'm someone coworkers often seek out to solve problems, lead projects and train others. These experiences at ACES and CNN have prepared me to continue a leadership role on the executive board.

FOR THE BOARD: Christine Ma, self-employed (self-nominated)

About her work: I am a copy editor and a proofreader specializing in children’s and young adult books, with experience in newspapers and educational magazines, too.

Her contribution to ACES: I have been helping to organize the twice-monthly ACES chats on Twitter, lining up guests, coming up with the questions, and scheduling posts. I’ve also been the guest for a couple of ACES chats.

Why she feels she's the best candidate for this position: I spent fifteen years working at Macmillan, Hachette Book Group, Weekly Reader, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and I have nine years of experience freelancing for several trade publishers, independent authors, and companies. My diverse background allows me to understand and advocate for the needs and interests of our members.

What she envisions for ACES during her tenure: Because ACES is now the Society for Editing, I hope we can attract all types of editors, including developmental editors, technical editors, fact-checkers, and indexers. I’d also like to strengthen the ACES community through social media or meet-ups so we can support one another outside of the conference.

How her involvement in ACES, or anywhere else, prepared her for a leadership role in ACES: Spotting problems and finding solutions to fix them are two things I’ve always excelled at. In the past, I’ve come up with ways to increase efficiency, meet deadlines, and encourage communication and collaboration. I’ve been able to apply these skills to organize the twice-monthly Twitter chats, and I hope to use my experience to help make ACES enjoyable and beneficial for all members.

FOR THE BOARD: Helen W. O'Guinn, Senior Editor, HighPoint (self-nominated)

About her work: Senior editor: Edits documents for the Federal Government and maintains style guide.

Her contribution to ACES: I am new to ACES but I signed up my first year to make a presentation at the national convention and will be present again this year.

Why she feels she's the best candidate for this position: I have experience editing for the Federal Government and I know the rewards and vexations of editing for a client -- when your word is not the last word. My experience is broad. I've edited a trade publication, a national consumer magazine, fiction and nonfiction books, and a slew of corporate and advertising copy. In short, I understand the concerns that many editors face.

What she envisions for ACES during her tenure: I'd like to be active in helping editors hone their skills and I'd like to help promote a broader understanding of the importance of solid copy editing for all manner of publications.

How her involvement in ACES, or anywhere else, prepared her for a leadership role in ACES: Outside of ACES, where my involvement is new, I’ve served in leadership roles in a variety of businesses and organizations. In editing, I’ve juggled conflicting opinions and ideas, balancing the wishes of many editors and clients. Beyond editing, I’ve done everything from passing out flyers to sitting on boards to chairing major charity benefits. I think I have a talent for handling conflicting opinions professionally, for listening and gathering consensus, and for grasping the big picture. And I’m passionate about grammar and language.

FOR THE BOARD: Merrill Perlman, President, Merrill Perlman Consulting (self-nominated, incumbent)

About her work: I'm a freelance editor who also trains other editors, writers, students and anyone who communicates. I've been an editor for more than 40 years.

Her contribution to ACES: I've been in ACES from the beginning. A member of the Education Fund board, I was its representative on the ACES board before I was elected on my own. I present ACES boot camps and develop and present ACES content for the Poynter Institute. Plus, I’m a lot of fun.

Why she feels she's the best candidate for this position: I know editing, I know editors, and I know ACES. My passion is both visible and contagious. I have a national reputation, which aids recognition of ACES and its worth to editors. I claim to have started the practice of bribing conference attendees with chocolate.

What she envisions for ACES during her tenure: ACES has vastly expanded its reach since the early days, and its membership reflects that. I hope to help continue that expansion, while still maintaining the professional-yet-welcoming vibe of the annual conference. We know there are many editors out there who need our network.

How her involvement in ACES, or anywhere else, prepared her for a leadership role in ACES: My years with ACES have given me a deep understanding of the organization, its membership and its needs, so my institutional memory can help us avoid reinventing the wheel (too many times). I’ve been a member of the ACES Education Fund since its inception, and was its president for eight years. As part of that, I help run the auction and spelling bee. I’ve been a manager of editors, great preparation for helping to manage an organization full of editors. (It’s not like herding cats, because that’s easy: Just open a can of food, and they will come.)

FOR THE BOARD: Charita Ray-Blakely, self-employed (self-nominated)

About her work: Charita Ray-Blakely, Ph.D., is the owner of Consolidated Performance Consulting (CPC) and is a Professional Development Writing Specialist at Univ. of the Incarnate Word. She strives to improve the performance of students, executives, and businesses through writing, editing, and evaluation services.

Her contribution to ACES: I am new to ACES and within a few months of joining, have already attended my first training workshop.

Why she feels she's the best candidate for this position: I am the best candidate for this position because I am eager to work and learn more about the industry and ACES. Additionally, I bring an academic perspective to ACES. 

What she envisions for ACES during her tenure: I envision ACES becoming more evident in the academic industry.

How her involvement in ACES, or anywhere else, prepared her for a leadership role in ACES: My leadership roles as professor, entrepreneur, and executive and general board member for the Texas Evaluation Network (TEN) have prepared me for a leadership role in ACES. Such roles require that a leader willingly maintain an objective focus and remain strategically minded. Specifically, these roles helped to sharpen my planning, relationship building, and communication skills, while developing my ability to collect and organize resources to achieve an overall objective. Furthermore, my involvement in these capacities enabled me to fully grasp the notion that as a board member, I serve the organization and its members.

FOR THE BOARD: Beverley D. Rilett, Assistant professor (nominated by Susan Bullard)

About her work: She teaches university students to improve their critical reading, research, and writing skills; moreover, she developed and regularly offers a book editing and publishing course.

Her contribution to ACES: Bev has re-invigorated an ACES chapter at University of Nebraska-Lincoln by co-leading it for two years. She’s recruited English majors interested in book editing careers. (It had been journalism majors.) She’s found guest speakers and helped raise money to bring students to conferences. She also presented at the ACES conference.

Why she feels she's the best candidate for this position: Bev’s background as book editor-turned-professor reflects the diversity of ACES growing membership. She teaches book editing and publishing, bringing a new perspective on editing to her campus that also would serve the ACES board. She’s a master juggler and an innovator, qualities that are essential for the board.

What she envisions for ACES during her tenure: From Bev: I envision the ACES membership expanding and evolving toward greater collaboration between professional writers and editors. If elected, I expect my contribution would include researching education programs, contacting sources, surveying participants, and developing organizational strategies to recruit more educators and students to the ACES national conference.

How her involvement in ACES, or anywhere else, prepared her for a leadership role in ACES: At ACES 2017, I gave a presentation on new directions in editing education with Andy Bechtel, Vicky Krueger and Sue Burzynski Bullard. I joined forces with Sue in 2016 to help expand the ACES student chapter she established at UNL. English majors aspiring to careers in book publishing now balance the journalism students. Last year, we brought four chapter representatives to the conference; six will join us for ACES 2018. I enjoy initiating new projects and keeping them going. For example, I am building the George Eliot Archive with a team of research assistants. You probably know me better, however, for starting the evening Scrabble games at ACES 2016 and keeping that fun trend going last year. 

FOR THE BOARD: Stephen Smith, self-employed (self-nominated)

About his work: I’m a legal editor, a litigator, and an appellate attorney. My work consists of publishing original advocacy and editing others’ prose.

His contribution to ACES: I’m a member in good standing, and a graduate of Uchicago’s editing certificate program. I look forward to contributing actively as a committee member. I’m active in the MA and RI bar associations and can significantly help with ACES’s recruiting and networking in both states.

Why he feels he's the best candidate for this position: I have a strong background in editing, both before law school and in my legal career. I also have considerable experience helping organizations—from bar associations, to my local cultural council, to a school advisory board. This wouldn’t be a new experience, and I’d be an active voice for ACES.

What he envisions for ACES during his tenure: I have strong ties in both Chicago and Providence, the sites of ACES’s next two conferences, and I’d like to promote our recruitment and visibility in advance of those conferences. I’d also like to explore developing an active role with bar associations around the country.

How his involvement in ACES, or anywhere else, prepared him for a leadership role in ACES: In my experience leading teams both as a lawyer and in the entertainment industry, and as a fellow with the MBA Leadership Academy, I’ve learned that leadership—like editing—is about the mechanics of executing vision. As members, we want ACES to grow its visibility, both to attract a wider membership and to create better job opportunities for editors. We want ACES to be strong within our industry and recognized outside it. Our executive committee is how we’ll accomplish those goals; and based on my professional experience as an advocate and a leader, that’s where I believe I can contribute.

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