M4 (Mass Mail Merge Macro)

This was an incredibly complex project I was asked to help with initially and it became my “baby” after a while.

The whole purpose of the project was to track the results of on site reviews for Medicaid compliance. The project had completed a Survey Monkey survey and was struggling to compile and output letters after additional on site reviews had been completed. I took the survey results and the additional questions that the team needed and turned it into a multi sheet Excel, one for each site (1200 or so site based providers and equal that in Spreadsheets).

The first sheet was an import of the PDF from the survey so it was clear which site was being reviewed. The second sheet contained a macro driven questionnaire for the Compliance Team to use for reviews. The third sheet compiled the data entered into the second sheet and combined it with provider name, number and address information and was used for the first round of mail outs via email as well as merging the data to a form based PDF. The last sheet compiled additional compliance data as a way to determine what additional letters were needed.

The second piece of this project was a series of 8 letters, the initial letter telling them the results of their visit and an additional 6 for various levels of compliance plus one certifying the acceptance of the changes made during the process. These were all written in Word which was then used to do mail merged letters one at a time. From there the letter was converted to PDF and fill in form fields were added.

Adobe DC and Outlook do not do mail merges well and so a secondary Excel spreadsheet system was developed to assist with creating the emails and attaching the PDFs to emails. This system used a contact name, email, file name for the PDF and a static programmed instructional message for the body of the email.

Given that I worked on the functionality of the whole system solo and had no budget, I did however have tight timelines as the site reviews were in full swing when I was asked to tackle the project. I am forever grateful to my office mate who tested several times a day for me and offered invaluable feedback on the needed functionality.

The first run of the full project was tested in house and the Provider Certification & Compliance team was gracious enough to put up with and even make up data to help test the system for me and allow me to work out bugs. The first live test was 300 merges and mailings and out of that only 8 bounced all of which were because of a provider changing their email contact and not notifying the State of the change.

This process was used to generate another 3-5 rounds of emails in order to get the 1200 or so providers all in compliance with the regulations.

In addition to designing and developing the process from end to end, I also built a procedure manual for it and provided the team with training.  A tool to track incoming responses was also built and generated reports for management.

All the macros were written in .Net. Only the actual mail merge portion is shown below. The Compliance Tool is on another page.

My Doll Business

CCII get a lot of questions and funny looks when I mention that my small business which was started in 1995 is focused solely on dolls. You see my original college major was Fashion Design and I focused on dolls as they are fun and easy to make a wide variety of garments for. When I talk about the size range I get more incredulous looks since the smallest doll I have and have actually designed, drafted and sewn for is a 1/2″ baby doll. The next largest is 2 1/2″ tall and has a hand beaded gown. From there I move to 1″ scale dolls and go larger still into 6-8″ children dolls, 10 1/2″ lady dolls, Barbie of course along with Gene, Kitty Collier and finally my beloved Letha Marie who is 3 ft 10″ tall and wears a child size 3 shoe. A couple of my dolls I literally poured the porcelain for and created from scratch before I dressed them. If asked in an interview about my dolls I will brag on them never ending as I LOVE my dolls and my sewing work in all those scales. Letha placed 2nd at the Anaheim Doll show, several outfits for my 1″ and 1/2″ scale dolls have been featured in magazines as well as my larger dolls. Two of my dolls won 1st and 2nd place at the Alaska State Fair and were featured in a magazine. Why am I so proud of the doll business overall though? Each pattern, and there are 100 and counting, takes a large amount of project management. Choosing resources, designs, colors, dolls, fabrics and trims takes time. Budgeting for a costume plus determining the shapes of pieces, testing patterns, technical writing is involved in each pattern for step by step instructions. Some designs were done as custom items for customers and thus I had to work closely with each one to get the tiny details right. Over the years I also had to learn photography as well as web design and development. I started by scanning my dolls since I didn’t own a camera but I had a scanner. Once I had a camera I started working on my still life portrait skills, they are dolls! I had to learn to edit photos and add them manually to a website. My original site was 50 megs and over 200 hand coded pages. I taught myself SEO,  Drupal, Joomla and eventually learned WordPress. As for my books, those were herculean for me as I was also a new parent to an infant and then toddler which required a lot of time management and multi-tasking skills to go with the technical skills and all the testing and even book layout and production of the hard copies at first. Why am I not still at this? I do it as a hobby now as it just will not support a family. I have totes of dolls and fabric and ideas filed away and when I find time I dig out a doll and start making something. I still work on my website when I can get a chance as well since I have photos and such that I still have not shared with the world. Yes, my business is based on dolls but the skills used to create products as a one man shop are very transferable to a workplace. I use many of my time, task and project skills all the time at my previous job as well as at my current job. Some examples of the results of these skills show up in the Compliance Checklist and the Certification Checklists which were projects for the State of Alaska.

Things I can do would anyone like to learn how I do them?

Most people know something about computers but only the basics.

        <h2>&nbsp;I know how to do a wide variety of things and what I think are stupid little tricks are great tools for someone else.</h2>        
                        <li >
                <a href="http://www.sue-a-darby.com/date-stamping-in-adobe/">                       
                                    Screenshot tutorial
                            <li >
                <a href="http://www.sue-a-darby.com/process-improvements/">                     
                                    Process development and documentation
                            <li >
                <a href="http://www.sue-a-darby.com/m4/">                       
                                    Excel macros
                            <li >
                <a href="http://www.sue-a-darby.com/search-tool-business-document-7-2013-2/">                       
                                    Writing business needs documents
                            <li >
                <a href="http://www.sue-a-darby.com/history-of-websites-and-their-management/">                     
                                    Website design and development
                            <li >
                                    Form design or development or editing
                            <li >
                                    Projects plan
                            <li >
                                    SharePoint troubleshooting
                        <li >
                                    Combining reports and presenting final data
                            <li >
                                    Report building in excel
                            <li >
                                    Programming languages
                            <li >
                                    Quick parts for a group
                            <li >
                                    Presenting options for a website and translating between business and designer or developer same for databases
                            <li >
                                    Email distro lists
        <h2>Does anyone want me to write up any of these as tutorials or help their business with these tasks?</h2>

Search Tool Business Document

When we had a change of regulations in 2013, that prompted a big change in our database, which in turn broke a few things, including a web based interactive search tool. This was the business document I was asked to develop upon my discovery of the broken tool. It not only fixed the issue, it added some improved functionality that the division had wanted for a couple years. 

Update: The changes to the Provider Search Tool are complete and can be seen live on the Senior & Disabilities Website. Additional changes have also been made to the Submit Corrections form as well recently. 

Update 2: This tool is no longer in use as the systems have long since been upgraded and integrated with the new Harmony system.

Provider NameACME Agency
Mailing Address123 Bozo, Anchorage, AK 99666Geographical Area ServedAnchorage South Central
Email[email protected]
Services OfferedChore Respite Transportation Personal Care Attendant Residential Supported Living
Care CoordinatorsPerson 1, Person 2

Search based on

  1. Provider Name (text box search)
  2. City (physical) (drop down)
  3. Geographical Area served (drop down) Secondary area? (drop down)
  4. Waivers spelled out (drop down)
  5. Services (drop down)

Providers who return results should have:

  1. Active status
  2. Current end dates
  3. All Active services
  4. Show agents and/or renderers
  5. Show waivers served
  6. Show all services provided
  7. Show mailing address
  8. Show phone
  9. Show fax
  10. Show email

Resume June 2017

Sue Darby

907-707-5654 | [email protected]


Business Analyst | Technical Writer 

I am seeking full time work and have over 20 years of experience as an advanced computer user and writer. I have been proven to be detail oriented in determining the requirements for both users and technical staff providing a unique bridge between management and technical staff. Creative in the use of technology to solve problems and create detailed business processes.

Areas of expertise include:

✏  Content Management Systems ✏  Cloud Tools ✏  Procedures ✏  Programming ✏  Social Media ✏  Diagrams ✏  Databases ✏  Office Suites ✏  Data Tracking ✏   Graphic Arts ✏  Data Analytics ✏  Tracking Systems ✏ Operating Systems ✏  Technical Writing ✏   Sewing ✏  Problem Solving

Senior Services Technician

State of Alaska


Sue Darby performs a variety of support and technical functions in the administration of the Provider Certification & Compliance Unit for the Medicaid Home and Community Based Waiver and Personal Care Assistance program. This position provides support and assistance to program managers and is responsible for program specific work of a senior service oriented agency, develops and maintains systems to track certification information and prepares reports for professional staff which are used internally and externally. The position serves a key role in the Provider Certification Unit as related to regulatory compliance, client health and safety, and continuous quality improvement.

Key Contributions


  • Maintain and QC 1500+ files ensuring all items required by regulation are present in folders
  • Process 1500+ incoming applications, distribute to reviewers and issue reminder letters to providers who are untimely
  • Sort and filter 500+ emails monthly ensuring each is categorized correctly for processing by myself or team members
  • Process over 5,000 files for archives or off site storage equaling over 160 cubic feet of paper
  • Master user for MS Office 2003-2013 including testing of newer computer builds for IT as super user
  • Create and maintain system generated reports for Provider Certification & Compliance Unit process of certification of Medicaid provider applicants, waivers, onsite provider reviews, and other quality assurance processes.
  • Develops Certification forms for internal use and edits Certification Application forms ensuring accessibility for the public.
  • Provides technical assistance to applicants and providers regarding certification application process, setting up Background Check accounts, and corresponding with the SDS fiscal agent for billing purposes.


  • Participates in planning and developing system work orders to improve systems support for the unit.
  • Build Master Site Review Tool improving data collection and notification efficiency by 85%
  • Maintain calendar and email management for team tracking during travel

“Other Duties as Assigned”

  • Builds & maintains UMLs of unit processes, writes or updates written processes as assigned
  • Archives SME and SharePoint site Administrator working with IT for improvements and troubleshooting issues
  • Unit SharePoint Administrator and Manager building tools to track processes that internal DS3 database does not currently
  • SME called on to define unit needs for reporting in new database system during development stages
  • Participated in user testing of database in development following scripts and offering feedback on usability and functionality

Office Assistant I/II

State of Alaska


Administrative support for 10-15 professionals providing tasks such as mail outs, mail merges, email management and filing support. Also provided team leadership to Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and Mature Alaskans Seeking Skills Training participants teaching a variety of clerical and computer skills and offering assistance as necessary. Progressed from a level I to a level II Office Assistant within about a year of starting with the State of Alaska. Quickly became a sought out subject matter expert in Excel, archiving, SharePoint and certification application processing.

Key Contributions

  • Responds to and takes appropriate action when within prescribed parameters, redirects to the correct professional staff when beyond knowledge base or those parameters, routes various emails to specific professional staff for decisions and action.
  • Monitors Provider Certification email inbox which is the publicly posted email and web portal for all providers and applicants. Various reports of incidents, inquiries, complaints and questions flow through this email and must be routinely monitored and re-routed.
  • Serves as subject matter expert on records retention procedures and archiving/off-site storage processes and advises professional staff on these procedures.
  • Electronic & hard copy file management, confidential record requests
  • Database management, maintains systems to ensure data integrity.
  • Serves as lead in selecting, training and oversight of DVR,  MAAST and administrative support
  • Ensures procedures are updated as shared electronic documents for the unit.
  • Assists with printing, copying, mass mailings, and organizing materials for meetings, training sessions, investigations, and site reviews or provides lead support to supportive staff.
  • Provides support and maintenance of the unit`s copiers, fax machines and other machinery in the office. Conducts routine maintenance, troubleshooting and periodic repair status checks. Facilitates repair calls as necessary.
  • Prepares materials for dissemination to providers, including recertification notifications, prepares mailing lists, merges documents, tracks and archives mailing lists for compliance history.
  • Keeps Provider Certification records and files organized and complete. Ongoing filing and policy and procedures toward electronic record keeping.
  • Provides records copies for various records requests for criminal cases, public requests, etc. Ensure complete records are provided.
  • Provides detailed information on program regulations; advises the public on program applicability and requirements; explains related laws, rules, regulations, policies, and procedures to potential providers; advises and assists potential providers in setting up services.

Career Development Mentor & Computer Instructor

Nine Star Education & Employment


Sue Darby, was an AmeriCorps Member, in the Career Development Center of Nine Star Education and Employment Services. Sue brought to the Career Development Center a variety of skills gained as an owner of a small business, including a high level of personalized customer service, and the ability to teach life skills, as well as computer skills, to a diverse group of customers.


  • Cut Management Information Systems input time by 50%
  • Create templates used for generating reports
  • Input clients into File Maker Pro via Citrix
  • Brainstorm ways to streamline the administrative processes
  • Answer phones & questions from the public

Computer Instruction

  • Develop class curriculum
  • Teach computer classes
  • Aid students in preparation for the MOS exams
  • Answer student questions about various software

Career Development Mentor

  • Teaches goal setting workshops
  • Confers with clients to determine what program will be most helpful
  • Assesses clients for barriers and brainstorm ways to overcome them
  • Drafts and edits resumes, cover letters and other business correspondence
  • Directs clients to appropriate resources and assists clients in their use of outside assistance
  • Assists clients in registration for and use of the ALEXSYS system for the Department of Labor
  • Conducts job-matching to find good fit between clients and hiring companies

Business Owner, Technical Writer, Author, Webmaster

Sue’s Tiny Costumes


Sue’s Tiny Costumes makes patterns in the micro scale from 1/2″ tall baby dolls to 18″ lady doll patterns. Sue Darby owns and operates the business and has since 1996. She has published 2 books to the Library of Congress “Pattern Drafting for Miniatures” and “Pattern Making for Dolls”. In addition to these books she has self-published over 100 patterns for dolls and been featured multiple times in doll and miniature magazines. Each pattern takes many hours of planning and work from design concept, to measuring and drafting the pattern for the doll both by hand and by computer, to testing the pattern and writing the technical instructions for others to complete the same design. Beyond these basics for each pattern are diagrams of sewing techniques and photography of the finished items for both the pattern and for her website, social media channels and other marketing material.

Key Contributions

  • Project planning of technical books and patterns
  • Project management of pattern drafting projects
  • Published author of 2 books and over 100 sewing patterns
  • Photography of finished items for patterns and website
  • Website design, development and management including new content and security

Awards & Publications

  • International Doll Magazine, Pattern Consultant 6 published patterns 2004-2005
  • Dolls In Miniature- article 2005
  • Doll Castle News- article 2005
  • State Fair 2005 Little Bo Peep and her Sheep (Kitty Collier & Tiny Betsy)

Business Owner, Webmaster, Virtual Assistant  

Alaska Office Specialists


Alaska Office Specialists started as a virtual assistant service and has morphed into a website management service for craft businesses. Sue Darby who owns and operates the business uses her unique skill set to build and manage websites for other businesses who sell or make crafts. This can include hosting sites or updating already built sites. It is her experience with her own craft businesses that gives her the insight necessary to keep a crafting business site running.

Key Contributions

  • WordPress management, installation, updates and security of 10+ sites
  • HTML editing and scratch coding including using Bootstrap Framework or other systems
  • CSS editing and scratch coding using various frameworks
  • JavaScript including node.js and angular
  • FTP management of websites
  • Social Media management including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn both manually and with Hootsuite
  • Manage content on cloud based services such as DropBox, Google Drive, Toodledo and others




Recruited to work on iA3’s website during the start up phase for website management and content development

Key Contributions

  • Setup and configuration of theme, home page, privacy policy and additional content
  • Facebook and Twitter account management
  • Gaining technical knowledge and expertise regarding the hardware and software of the iA3 EdgeBrain a micro PC controlling industrial level water systems

Compliance Checklist

In the spring of 2017 I was asked to take on extra duties to support the compliance side of the unit more and the first thing I was tasked with was combining a cumbersome set of tools into something more cohesive and easier to manage. Being an Excel fan when it comes to multiple tools in one file I setup a checklist based on the Certification Checklist with show and hide functions for questions that are met or not met in the compliance realm. A little research for the vb.net code and within a day or so I had a functional first draft which was taken into the world for testing. A few tweaks and it was ready for the full process. It is still a work in progress as of June 2017 as the Remediation portion of the process is still being developed but the workbook is ready for the challenge of merging the collected data into notices come July thanks to a transpose function.

This tool built to support the Settings changes was one of many tools used to gather the data that helped push legislation to make change. One of the services this tool collects data for is Supported Employment which typically underpays the clients significantly but as of April 2018 that is no longer the case. Alaska now has legislation for Equal Pay for the Disabled and they are paid at least minimum wage now!

  • Contact Me

    All image on this site are ©2019 Sue Darby.

    Photographs are taken by Sue Darby please ask for permission and link to this site if you wish to use one.

  • Contact Me