President’s address to the membership at the 2018 NCRA Convention & Expo

Sue Terry

The following is the speech given by 2018-2019 NCRA President Sue A. Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, at the 2018 Convention & Expo in New Orleans, La., during the Aug. 3 Premier Session.

Good morning. First, I want to thank each of you for your presence here this morning to kick off the year for our association.

I’d also like to thank and recognize my family for being here with me this morning and for the years of endless support you’ve given me, and a very heartfelt thank-you to my husband of 49 years, Keith, who has been my rock since the age of 13. I’d also like to thank my many friends who have supported me, guided me and placed your faith in me. And last, but certainly not least, thank you to each of our board members who came to the table and shared your passion and wisdom in each of the decisions we were tasked with making this year, and there were many.

How can I begin to tell you all the things that need to be said in such a short time this morning about us and I do mean us! We are all NCRA.

While trying to come up with just the right words to inspire you, I found myself at the Google search bar looking for that inspiration, even resorting to random, silly searches like www.greatinspirationforsueterry.com.

I’m sure that every president of this association before me has stepped into their board experience with a vision of how their leadership is going to make a difference, how they are going to improve the profession and better the organization. I know in my heart that is true, and I thank every, single past president of this organization who has stepped up to serve and given freely of their personal time. Thank you. Would every person who has ever served on a state or national committee, board, or task force, please rise. All of you are our true unsung heroes.

I’d like to briefly share with you a bit of my background and passion for reporting. My career began like many of yours. I graduated from a local, small-town court reporting program. The program I attended was self-pay, so I had to write a check monthly. I struggled to make those $65-a-month payments and wondered each time I wrote the check if I could hang in there just one more month. I’m so thankful I did stick with it, because it was a life-changer. My final total investment in a phenomenal career was $845, plus the cost of my first new steno machine, a “manual” blue Hedman Stenoprint at a cost of $135, which I paid $90 down and the remaining balance spread over three months. It included a dust cover and two-year warranty. My, how times have changed!

Students here today, listen up. That initial investment has afforded me the opportunity to meet and work with people in every walk of life, from gang members to factory workers, from environmental specialists to the top physicians and surgeons in the world. I’ve been able to be the ears of hard-of-hearing professionals by providing realtime translation for them to enable them to “hear” their meetings and conferences. My $845 investment also afforded me the opportunity to serve as a realtime reporter producing transcripts for President Obama and Vice President Biden at Camp David. How incredible is a career in court reporting!

Each of us can tell our own inspiring stories, and we all have similar experiences we can share. We must begin to look for opportunities everywhere to tell our stories. Your story may just be the one that motivates someone to join our ranks or inspires a student to pass that next speed hurdle.

That’s what I’m going to ask you to help the NCRA board with today, shaping our future, writing our stories. I can’t do it alone, and neither can this board. We need your help.

There are challenges we face as an industry, and I’d like to discuss at least a couple of them this morning.

  1. Shortage of new students into our profession. While NCRA has undertaken some innovative solutions to address this problem, such as disseminating information on our Discover Steno website, providing brochures, aptitude tests and other tools to aid our schools, what we can’t do is be the eyes and ears in your community. We’d ask you to go to the Discover web site and review the materials, then go into your communities and host informational events to promote our A-to-Z initiative. It’s going to take a hefty grass roots effort to increase our numbers. I know many of you have gone into high schools, church youth groups. The National Honor Society has estimated there are over one million students participating in their organization. Think of it; one million of the nation’s brightest students. Will you consider sponsoring a small reception at their induction ceremonies to celebrate and mingle with them, their parents and their teachers? You can offer to caption their induction ceremony speeches so they can actually then experience firsthand the vital services we perform. This would give us access to students who have already demonstrated both an academic GPA of 3.5 or above, and also the character of the four pillars of the National Honor Society; scholarship, service, leadership and character. It would give us access to exactly the kind of student we are looking to recruit and gain wider awareness of our profession.
  2. NCRA governance. We are an organization ripe for culture change. We must begin to think differently and find ways to build upon our strengths and improve upon our weaknesses. I believe we can greatly improve NCRA governance, and I will be working hard to do that this year.
  3. My first order of business as NCRA President was to work with Max, our President-Elect, and Marcia Ferranto NCRA’s new Executive Director and CEO, to restructure NCSA into what we hope to be the Congress of Court Reporting. We believe the states and their leaders are the cornerstone of NCRA. I, along with our Board, believe in our members, and that together, we can create a stronger NCRA. New regional directors have been selected, and we will be asking them to work with us to craft a new framework for NCSA, designed by you, our states, that will add much additional input to the NCRA board to guide us in our decisions so that we are cognizant of your concerns and desires when deliberating. This new NCSA will have a much stronger voice in the affairs of your
  4. Exploring new markets for our services. There are many new and unexplored opportunities in the captioning industry, and it promises great growth. I will work with Marcia Ferranto and our board to explore some of those opportunities in some new markets this year. I read one survey recently of businesses who estimated their captioning needs for video would grow by 74% in the coming year. There are 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute. Almost five billion videos are watched on Youtube every, single day. Let’s be sure we are at the forefront of these video captioning opportunities.
  5. Protecting our officialships. We must remain vigilant and aggressive in providing education and building relationships that assists us in keeping steno as the preferred method of capturing the record so that we can protect the rights of all litigants who pass through the courtroom doors.
  6. Provide strong support for our freelance community by providing educational seminars and resources to enhance their businesses, as well as encouraging and promoting better communications between our freelancers and the firms they serve.

In closing tonight, I would say that this board has navigated some very rough waters this year. However, I’ve learned that in life, the things that go wrong are often the very things that lead to change and bring greater successes that couldn’t even have been imagined without the newfound wisdom those experiences teach us. This year, I plan to listen a lot. There’s going to be immense talent around me, and I plan to spend a lot of time listening as this board arrives at the very best decisions they can make for you. I plan to listen to you, our members, for without you, we cease to exist.

I would ask you to spend the remainder of our convention celebrating one another, not as captioners or freelancers or firm owners or videographers, but as professionals, united in our purpose and supporting our association. Thank you.