Experience Overview

Overview:

My experience includes project and program management, website design and maintenance, writing, editing and print design. I have a particular interest in promoting ecologically sound tourism practices and provide tourism consulting, eco-tourism promotion and cooperation, historical/heritage tourism promotion and scenic byways program promotion and management to select clients. I have experience working as a staff writer/editor finding ways to best utilize advertising pieces that attempt to influence editorial content and as a consultant working with media professionals to push client-driven messages.

Primary objectives when working with clients include producing materials that provide a strong brand and leave the targeted market with a better, more positive understanding of the client.

Specialties include small to medium non-profit and for profit company identity packages including websites, brochures and other materials. Rural and small community-based tourism marketing and branding, photography and digital image manipulation and writing and editing are other areas of interest.

My heart still belongs to environmentally sound practices, nonprofit work and tourism initiatives, particularly when this work relates to Alabama.

Experience:

Owner, Watts Consulting, August 2000-present

Watts Consulting provides graphic and website design services for non-profit and for-profit companies with a focus on nature-based tourism, natural resource conservation and development and community planning based organizations. Other areas include working with the tourism industry in general and working on emerging concepts in traveler-oriented wayfinding. I also work with several for-profit companies including insurance, architecture and retail, providing print and website design and website maintenance for select clientele.

Consultant, UA Center for Economic Development, February 2008-Present

Work with regional groups in 3 areas (an eleven county, a four county, and a five county area) in Alabama to develop tourism strategies, provide structured regionalized thinking and strategic planning. Projects include ongoing websites, brochures and interpretive panels in each region along with customer service training exercises, social media coaching and implementation and photographing attractions and scenery to utilize throughout the various campaigns. A separate project involves developing a statewide system of birding trails, working with members of the birding and environmental communities and educating Chamber of Commerce and business executives of the importance of nature-based tourism to the overall economics of the region.

Project Manager, Byways Marketing, Alabama Association of Regional Councils (AARC), December 2002-present

Coordinate work done to promote the Alabama Scenic Byways Program, develop initial marketing plan, encourage local community participation, assist in organization of Corridor Advocacy Groups (CAG’s) and develop marketing and promotional materials related to the state scenic byways program. Speak at meetings (ranging from under 10 to over 100 participants) throughout the state on the merits of the program. Managed project work from independent planning firm on two state scenic byway corridor management plans, including the Coastal Connection byway and the Lookout Mountain Parkway. One scenic byway, Alabama’s Coastal Connection, has since used their plan as part of a successful application for national byway designation and as a tool to successfully acquire additional funding from the Federal Highway Administration. In addition to working on Alabama’s byways program, I work with all 12 regional councils on the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) website for Alabama.

Project Manager, Byways Program Development, Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham (RPC), July 2002-July 2003

Coordinated work done by consultant TEI Engineers and Planners, Inc. with RPC and with the Alabama Department of Transportation. Organized and led group meetings, built consensus and provided guidance in the overall development of the Alabama Scenic Byways Program Manual.

Project Coordinator, Scenic Inventory, Alabama Association of Regional Councils (AARC), March 2001-December 2001

Coordinated inventory of scenic roadways produced by all twelve Alabama regional planning agencies; finalized report; worked with political officials, state agencies, individuals and nonprofit groups to generate interest and awareness of project.

Executive Director, Scenic Alabama, June 1999-August 2000

Wrote draft state legislation creating the Alabama scenic byways program, worked with state legislators to pass byways-oriented legislation. Oversaw statewide operations including policy work, program development, public speaking, fundraising, grant writing, political lobbying and operations.

Assistant Editor, Weight Watchers magazine, August 1996-June 1999

Wrote articles concentrating on healthy lifestyles, researched story ideas, edited recipes for consistency and clarity, developed recipes, developed, wrote and edited a menu planner focusing on nutrition for each issue and represented the magazine at national conferences.

Editorial Intern, Southern Living and Southern Accents, January 1996-May 1996

Wrote and edited articles, conducted phone interviews, developed and edited recipes, assisted with reader phone calls, attended photography sessions, participated in taste-testing, and helped organize a photography exhibition of Southern photographers with Southern Accents and The Birmingham Museum of Art.

Education:

Auburn University, Master of Arts in English. Auburn, Alabama

1992-1997. Thesis option degree.

Birmingham-Southern College, Bachelor of Arts in English. Birmingham, Alabama

1988-1991. Completed four year program in 3 years.

Training:

Your Town Alabama, Designing Our Future

1999. Completed an intensive 3 day workshop held at Camp McDowell, Alabama on planning and smart growth in Alabama communities.

Interpretive Concepts Workshop

2002. Intensive 4-day workshop held in Stephens Point, Wisconsin on signage and general interpretation for tourism impact and usability, particularly as interpretation relates to scenic byway designation.

Scenic Byways Power Workshop

2003. Intensive 3-day workshop held in Charlotte, North Carolina on scenic byways management practices, from corridor management planning, to facilitating group meetings and understanding and interpreting intrinsic resources.

Rocky Mountain School of Photography Digital Photography Workshop

2007. Completed a 2-day workshop held in Birmingham, Alabama concentrating on Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Lightroom and Digital Photography workflow and manipulation.

Wayfinding/Wayshowing: Discovering the Path of the Tourist

2008. One day workshop targeting the growing interest in helping tourists find their way with websites, signs, maps and guides. In addition to attending the workshop, I worked with the Alabama Department of Transportation to organize and develop the agenda.

Conferences, etc.

I try to attend at least one educational conference each year. In 2011, I attended the annual National Association of Interpretation conference in St. Paul, MN. I picked up some great information and met some amazing folks: from National Park Service rangers to non-profit environmental center executive directors, all passionate about educating the public on the natural and cultural resources they love so much. I’ve attended several national conferences on scenic byways, historic preservation and the like over the years, as well.

Software Experience:

I’ve worked extensively with the following software:

Adobe Dreamweaver, from Macromedia’s version 2.0 through Adobe’s CC
Adobe Photoshop, from version 4.0 (Not CS4–but the old, old version 4.0) through CC
Adobe Fireworks, from version 1.0 through CS5 (though I have to admit, I rarely use Fireworks these days)
QuarkXpress, from version 3.2 through 6.5 (I have now abandoned Quark in favor of InDesign, a much better program for what I do and one that has grown to fit a need)
Adobe InDesign, from version 1 through CC
Adobe Illustrator, from version 7 through CC
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, from Beta 1.0 through CC
Adobe Acrobat, from 3.0 through version CC
WordPress, 2.7-4.5

I also have experience with the following programs: Microsoft Office suite including PowerPoint, Word and Excel. Apple’s Keynote, and limited experience with current versions of WordPerfect. I have some experience using Adobe Flash and several components for Flash (notably the popular component Slideshow Pro) but have been moving away from using it. I have a bit of experience using PHP and MySQL. I used Movable Type for my personal blog for several years and also for several client websites, but I am scurrying away from Movable Type and towards WordPress as quickly as I possibly can. I have recently developed a number of client websites in WordPress and find it very user-friendly and a real joy to work with! I’m also working a little with Drupal, though, for the most part, I find WordPress does just what I need it to.

I have experience working with both Windows and Mac OS computers (Windows from 3.1 to XP: I’ve steered clear of Vista (though I do hear some positive things about Windows 7) (Mac from somewhere in the 6-7.0 range through Snow Leopard and I’ve got plans to upgrade to Lion soon)