Immediate Past President’s final address to the membership at 2018 Convention & Expo

Chris Willette

The following is the speech given by Immediate Past President Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, Wausau, Wis., during the Aug. 2 Annual Business Meeting at the 2018 Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La.

Five minutes is not nearly enough for me to tell you about the accomplishments of NCRA’s volunteers, Board of Directors, CEO, and staff. I will do my best! My apologies in advance to Andrea Couch, our captioner today. I know she will forgive me. Besides, she’s got amazing skills.

Shortly after the last time I stood in front of our membership, the room went dark. I knew then that it was going to be a fantastic year since we had just received a fresh jolt of electricity!

As many of you know, leadership has its ups and downs. I am a firm believer that there are no mistakes in life … only lessons. Challenges present opportunities. By choice, I apply lessons learned and move forward in a positive and constructive manner.

Allow me to share just a few of our accomplishments over the past 12 months.

Immediately following convention, the board set out to vet and hire our new CEO. More than 100 candidates applied. The Board sought a leader with the skill set to get our finances under control and lead our association through a needed transition to position NCRA for a successful future. Marcia Ferranto became a full-time employee of NCRA in October. Marcia brings extensive experience, analytical and fact-based decision-making ability, and a keen focus on success. She possesses an energetic, positive attitude, filled with passion for what she loves to do: manage associations.

Next, on the Board’s agenda — a new Strategic Plan. Vision 2018 was upon us, and we needed a new plan to define who we are, where we are going, how we will get there, and what success looks like. The Board, together with Marcia and staff, debated, brainstormed, and deliberated for countless hours, and we approved the final Plan in May. The SP has three key priorities with specific deliverables and accountability.

The Annual Firm Owners conference — the largest attendance ever — featured an influx of fresh content and networking opportunities.

NCRA’s Legislative Boot Camp was completely revamped. Due to the continued philanthropic work of our Foundation — NCRF — it was a highlight of my year and with great humility that I conducted a Veterans History Project interview of Purple Heart Recipient and United States Marine Veteran Rob Jones at the United States Library of Congress. Google him!

Both the CRC and the CLVS certification processes were updated and brought online for easier member access. A CRC certification fast track was approved for experienced professionals in the captioning field, and a guidebook was also created. Most recently, the Board has approved offering an advanced captioning certification.

The process for schools wishing to gain NCRA approval has been improved and expanded to allow more schools to become NCRA-approved. Speaking of schools, the NCRA A to Z program is doing a fantastic job of getting students into those schools. Thank you to the hundreds of volunteers who have given their time to facilitate A to Z classes. We have also created an online course so that anyone anywhere who is interested in learning about the magic of our stenographic skill can do so.

As I said in last year’s address, the financial position of NCRA was of great concern and a matter on which I intended to focus. With Marcia’s expertise, and in conjunction with the finance committee and our CFO, the Board has adopted a new approach to assessing and monitoring our finances. I am quite confident in the new measures in place. In fact, as reflected in our second quarter financials, we are currently tracking on budget for the first time in years.

National Captioners and Reporters Association — NCRA — the proposed name change is the result of in‐depth strategic plan dialogue and the Member Needs Assessment. The new name supports our goals of attracting people to the captioning and court reporting professions and creating a greater awareness of who we are and the beneficial services our members provide. It better reflects the current and future status of the profession. The new name gives better recognition to a growing segment of the Association’s membership: captioners.

Including a tagline to our logo — “Steno: The standard in capturing the spoken word” — maintains our focus on representing the professionals who use a stenographic machine to earn a living.

Change is rarely easy but often necessary. The transition to reality of the current state of our profession requires perseverance and confidence that the future can be better if we apply what we’ve learned and move forward.

The NCRA Board of Directors consists of 14 passionate individuals. My thanks for your dedication. Together with NCRA staff, we create a dynamic and diversified team of subject matter experts. I ask membership to have confidence and understand that we are all in this together. We all seek success and a bright future.

It is hard to believe that a year has gone by. Some days seemed to last forever, while others were gone in the blink of an eye.

I want to express my gratitude to those who have provided encouragement and inspiration. You know who you are! The messages, hugs, and thoughtful gifts brought a smile to my heart and motivated me to persevere. My life has been enriched by the interactions I have had with members, board colleagues, and staff.

I thank God for the ability to work hard, the compassion and drive to give back in service to others, and the perseverance and patience to guide me. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to serve my profession at this level. I am confident that I have contributed to the advancement of our association, and I am proud of our accomplishments. Indeed, it has required hard work, service, and perseverance. Thank you for the honor.