Originally published in STC San Diego Chapter newsletter


By Lana Walker


Kathy W loves, truly loves, to untangle sentences. The harder it is to decipher the mangled prose, the better. As a technical editor at Bechtel working on environmental reports, she gets plenty of opportunities to practice her craft.

Before joining Bechtel a year ago, Kathy spent 11 years as a contract editor in the environmental health and safety field. She got her start in editing while working in the Methods and Procedures Department at HomeFed Bank.

Love of Literature

While growing up in the Chicago suburbs, Kathy discovered an old series of Childcraft books her mother inherited, and she fell in love with reading. Because no one else in her family was a voracious reader, books were practically forbidden fruit.

She took her love of literature to Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, and earned a bachelor's degree in English. She continued her studies at the University of Iowa and earned a master's. Realizing she had a practical nature about writing, she decided not to continue in a Ph.D. program.

After leaving college, Kathy taught English at a tough high school in Illinois for a year. The experience was disillusioning. Mercifully, her husband, who was in the restaurant business, was transferred to California. Only low-paying substitute teaching jobs were available, so Kathy decided to try the business world.

In administrative jobs she gravitated toward writing how things were done. Her first employer noticed her efforts and gave her a $100 bonus. She was totally jazzed and on her way to a better job at HomeFed Bank, where she led classroom training and developed self-study guides.

After a two-year absence, Kathy returned to the bank and worked as an editor in the Methods and Procedures Department. When the bank started to fold, Kathy decided to go off on her own. She got into environmental editing by answering a newspaper ad. Although new to the field, she quickly learned the lingo and processes.

Love of Life

Eleven years flew by. She enjoyed consulting work but missed being with an editing team where decisions can be made with others. She jumped at the chance to join Bechtel, only six blocks from her downtown condo and boasting the nicest people around. She walks to work. Once a week she gets in her car to burn out the carbon and to haul groceries.

"The world is about trying different things," Kathy says about their move from the North County suburbs to downtown San Diego. She's excited to be in the heart of a growing town that she envisions becoming a world-class city. She and her husband enjoy the wonderful cultural offerings such as the San Diego Repertory Theatre and the San Diego Symphony.

They also enjoy international travel and have a trip to Switzerland planned for this summer.

She gets to return to a job that she loves, to the nicest boss she's ever worked for, and to one of the finest cities in the world. Simply divine.

Originally published in STC San Diego Signature June 2002 newsletter. Today, Kathy is Senior Technical Editor at Tetra Tech.