When I ask Dragonfly’s Delilah Powell the biggest change she’s seen in her 20-plus years as a desktop publisher, I’m expecting something totally broad, like “the digital revolution” or “the Internet.”
She stuns me with her reply: “the release of Microsoft Word 2007.”
“They changed the way you create custom toolbars. It made things easier for people who didn’t know Word yet. But for people used to the previous version, it was like learning it all over again.”
I shouldn’t have underestimated someone whose work demands, above all, precise attention to detail.
Always something new to learn
That’s not to say Delilah (known to us as ‘Dee’) hasn’t taken note of the big changes, too. She spent five years in the Army, stationed in Arlington, Virginia and later in Augsburg, Germany. There, she worked in a communications center, dashing off messages on a teletype machine.
Later, in a temp job as a receptionist, she asked if she could try her hand at an early-model computer—and ended up gaining valuable skills. “I’ve always been interested in technology,” Dee tells me. “Whenever I was around a computer, I would ask to use it.”
The curiosity paid off. Dee soon began a career as a staff and freelance desktop publisher for major government contractors like CSC, Booz Allen Hamilton, and Chenega Federal Systems. For Dragonfly’s clients and others, Dee works alongside proposal managers and editors to meet RFP requirements. She selects color palettes, creates templates, and draws graphical charts. She manages, with infinite patience, Word’s tiny idiosyncrasies that make most of us want to scream.
Why did she migrate toward desktop publishing in particular? “I like that while the work is very procedural, every project is a little different,” Dee says. “There’s always something new to learn.”
Focusing on what matters
Although she’s worked in many desktop publishing software, Dee’s milieu of choice remains MS Word. (She’s a wealth of knowledge on the program’s hidden features.)
In her spare time, Dee visits family, including daughter Deanne, in Chicago; Dee and husband Ron live in Manassas, Virginia. She can also be found playing cards and other games (word games, like Scrabble and Words With Friends, are among her favorites). In both pursuits, Dee’s keen eye for detail pays off.
“I’ve definitely found my niche,” she says.
Mary is a writer and editor for Dragonfly Editorial.