One of QIP’s primary functions is helping its clients—federal and other education agencies—communicate information about education data and systems and often is technical in nature. QIP Editorial Director Sarah Ensor leads that effort.
“I think it’s crucial for subject matter experts to have communications experts who can help them communicate clearly to the general public complicated or confusing concepts,” she said.
Sarah, who is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), oversees QIP’s editorial work, including the writing and editing of white papers, video scripts, webinar summaries and infographics, and assists clients with their social media. She has a particular interest in Section 508 compliance and plain language.
Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires all federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. This means virtually all of QIP’s work must be accessible to everyone, which involves making sure that color contrasts are correct, fonts are large enough, documents are tagged properly for screen readers, and videos have accurate closed captioning.
Additionally, there are federal guidelines for plain language, which are another way to make information from the federal government accessible to everyone.
“Plain language guidelines ensure that people can access information that is not loaded with jargon, complex sentences, or obscure words,” Sarah said.
Sarah serves on the Localization and Implementation Committee for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Plain Language Standard, a group supporting implementation of international plain language standards. In addition, she, along with all of QIP’s editorial team, is a member of the Center for Plain Language.
Both plain language and Section 508 compliance are crucial to effective communication.
“I think the more accessible we can be, the better communications are for anyone, anywhere,” Sarah said. “A good communications plan addresses the widest possible audience. The more inclusive we can be, the better it is.”
Sarah cites the creation of toolkits for the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) Grant Program as one of the more memorable projects she has worked on.
“That's really interesting work because it's taking a series of products that we've helped them develop and then pulling them together in a set of web pages for people who are looking for in-depth knowledge on a specific topic,” she said.
Sarah also is interested in communications strategies, citing a communications calendar she helped develop for the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS). She said CEDS needed a template it could run itself rather than detailed, day-to-day communications work.
“They needed somebody to say, ‘You can take this template and make it applicable to your work,’” Sarah said. “I love doing that. I’m very excited about any part of strategy.”
Also along those lines, Sarah and QIP Creative Director Lindsey Huster lead QIP’s marketing team.
Aside from the work itself, Sarah said the corporate culture attracted her to QIP initially, citing the emphasis on work-life balance.
“I really trust my colleagues and my superiors,” Sarah said. “I feel like Beth Young and Tom Szuba have created an environment that is safe and honest, and they are always open to ideas.”
Before joining QIP, Sarah worked as a reporter, editor, and communications manager. Her work has appeared in local and national publications. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and drama from Washington College and a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction from Goucher College.
Sarah has been a character coach for Character Counts Mid-Shore, co-founder of the Washington College Alumni Writers Union, and a member of the Washington College Literary House Advisory Board. She also enjoys participating in community theater, having appeared in productions of “Annie,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” and “Elf.”