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Joann Fogleson

Director of Publishing Technologies, American Society of Civil Engineers


Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from, and what did you study? Where are you currently based?

I was born in Brooklyn, NY, and spent my early years there until my family relocated to Punta Gorda, FL. The transition was quite a culture shock, but it taught me valuable lessons about adaptability, active listening, and learning before acting. My accent is a blend of Northeastern and Southern, which is perfect for my alternating six-month stays in northern Virginia and a small southwest Florida town.

Describe your current role and organization. What are your main responsibilities? What type of organization do you work for?

The American Society of Civil Engineers is the nation’s oldest engineering society, with over 150,000 members in 177 countries. ASCE provides education, networking, advocacy, and technical resources for civil engineering professionals and students.

As Director of Publishing Technologies, I bridge technology with content delivery. I oversee the four outward-facing websites: ASCE Library, Amplify, ASCE Hazard Tool, and the Civil Engineering Database (CEDB), along with our Journal and Book Management Systems. ASCE PubTech also automates reports, enforces cybersecurity, cleans up XML, creates XML, tags taxonomies, and does countless other things.

Walk us through a typical day in your role. What challenges do you face? What opportunities do you encounter?

I start the day with a cup of hot coffee that turns cold before I can drink it. I check my calendar to see my first meeting, and then I learn. I say learn instead of work because I feel that I’m learning new things every day.

Publishing technology has grown exponentially in the past five years. And if this year has taught me anything, it’s that next year will be exploding. Keeping up with these changes means searching the internet to see if society publishing has made the news, if AI has grown more, and if any environmental/cultural news has happened that may impact the engineering community.

Platforms must be evaluated to make sure that we are following guidelines for accessibility, privacy, and AI and to determine if there is any way we can leverage this information into a revenue-generating product.

Share your journey in scholarly publishing. What was your first role in this field, and how did you land it? What path led you to your current position? What unexpected challenges have you faced?

My first position in scholarly publishing was 20 years ago. I started at ASCE as a coordinator working on the Civil Engineering Database. Ten years later, I was promoted to Publications Marketing Manager. Five years later, I became the Director of Publications Technologies.

My ability to learn and tackle new tasks helped me on this journey. I’ve always been fast at learning new skills, especially on a computer. I was also willing to learn anything. Someone needed a report run; I learned how to do it. We were switching to a new program; I learned how to do it.

I have dyslexia, which leads me to impostor syndrome whenever I am asked to proofread, speak, or attend a meeting. Early in my career, I would hide this, which meant coming up with tools to overcome the hurdles.

Now, I’m open about this issue and embrace my unique way of looking at things.

Like most dyslexics, I’m a horrible speller, which seems like an oxymoron with the career path I’ve taken. But this also helps me spot issues that others might miss.

Can you share a memorable project, achievement, or pivotal moment in your career development? Was there a defining moment or influential person who shaped your career? 

While I’ve been at ASCE for the last 20 years, I think the last 10 have been pivotal and allowed me to use the knowledge I gained. Ten years ago, I was promoted to a manager position in our Publications Marketing Department. Bill Nara was my manager at the time. It was there that I learned not only about most of the systems in Publications but also about different systems in the Society. I learned about the importance of not just bibliographic metadata but all different types of metadata. I was able to see a different side of publishing. I learned about budgets, subscriptions, and consortiums. The greatest thing Bill did for me was to ask me how I would handle the situation. When I decided to apply for the Director of Publications Technologies job, Bill was the first person I talked to.

What tools, websites, and organizations are essential for your career growth? How do you stay updated with industry trends and developments?

Google Alerts are amazing. They have kept me up to date on the latest trends and news. I also do weekly searches for any webinars that are up on YouTube.

I use the SSP OnDemand Video Content Library, C3, and The Scholarly Kitchen as springboards for what subjects I should research.

What do you wish you knew more about in your field?

I still have a lot to learn about the editorial and production aspects of scholarly publishing. At ASCE, these systems just recently came into PubTech. I’m learning them slowly, but I still think this is a black hole in my knowledge.

What advice would you give to aspiring professionals in scholarly communications?

Learn like a sponge and find a mentor. Any task is worth knowing.

Career Stage: Established (15+ years)

Industry Area: Publishing, Technology