Sustainable Industry-University Partnerships

Accountability as a Model for Program Development


  • Heidi Lawrence George Mason University
  • Lourdes Fernandez Mathematica
  • Luana Shafer Virginia Tech
  • Veronica Joyner University of Central Florida
  • Rachael Graham Lussos American University
  • Mae Bonem George Mason University
  • Douglas Eyman George Mason University


Professional and Technical Writing, Advisory Boards, Accountability, Industry Partnerships, Outreach, Professional Development


This article reports on how graduate professional and technical writing (PTW) programs can reframe engagement with industry through an accountability-based model as a novel way of solving student and program problems. This article discusses the standup of an Advisory Board, composed of representatives from across industries in our region, and the results of the focus groups and iterative research practices we used to gain feedback and develop ethical interventions for PTW programming. We show how our engagement process, research, and resulting accountability model are scalable to other programs and industry-university collaborations as one method for ensuring positive student outcomes and professional growth in PTW programs.


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Author Biographies

Heidi Lawrence, George Mason University

Heidi Y. Lawrence, PhD is an Associate Professor of English at George Mason University. She has directed the Professional and Technical Writing Graduate Programs at GMU since 2019, where she administers an MA concentration, a graduate certificate, and an Advanced Technical Writing certificate for public safety professionals. She teaches courses in proposal writing, professional and technical writing theory and practice, and research methods. She is also a 2007 graduate of the MA concentration in PTW at GMU.

Lourdes Fernandez, Mathematica

Lourdes Fernandez, PhD is a 2019 graduate of the PhD in Writing and Rhetoric program at GMU and a graduate of the PTW graduate certificate program at GMU. She is a survey researcher at Mathematica, where she focuses on social policy analysis.

Luana Shafer, Virginia Tech

Luana Shafer, MA is a PhD student in Virginia Tech’s Rhetoric and Writing program and teaches first-year writing. Her research interests involve the intersection between addiction disorder communities and digital spaces through a material-rhetorical lens. She was recently published in the proceedings of the 29th ACM International Conference on Design of Communication (SIGDOC 21’) for her work “Substance Abuse: Avenues for Identity Articulation, Coalition Building, and Support During COVID-19.”

Veronica Joyner, University of Central Florida

Veronica Joyner, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Technical Communication at the University of Central Florida. She teaches courses in professional and technical writing, editing, visual design, and publication. Her research focuses on issues of equity, justice, and culturally responsive technical and professional communication. She is also a graduate of the PhD in Writing and Rhetoric at GMU.

Rachael Graham Lussos, American University

Rachael Graham Lussos, PhD is a 2019 graduate of the PhD in Writing and Rhetoric program at GMU. She provides writing and editing training for professionals in government, private, and nonprofit organizations with a science, public health, or technology focus. She also teaches executive writing for the American University Key Executive Leadership program.

Mae Bonem, George Mason University

Mae Bonem, MA is a 2022 graduate of the MA concentration in PTW at GMU. She currently works as a technical writer in software development.


Douglas Eyman, George Mason University

Doug Eyman, PhD is an Associate Professor of English at GMU.  He teaches courses in digital media, research methods, professional and technical writing theory and practice, and public rhetoric.




How to Cite

Lawrence, H., Fernandez, L., Shafer, L., Joyner, V., Graham Lussos, R., Bonem, M., & Eyman, D. (2023). Sustainable Industry-University Partnerships: Accountability as a Model for Program Development. Programmatic Perspectives, 14(1). Retrieved from