BJ Shorak reflects on her career at the National Court Reporters Foundation

Dear NCRA and NCRF members, supporters, and community volunteers:

BJ Shorak, NCRF's Deputy Executive Director

BJ Shorak, NCRF’s Deputy Executive Director

I have had the privilege of working with NCRA and NCRF for more than 31 years and, believe me, it has been a privilege! That’s a testament to both organizations and to the wonderful members, volunteers, and staff I have had the chance to work with and get to know over the years. During my tenure, I have had the opportunity to serve under six executive directors, be a part of several internal NCRA reorganizations, and have had the chance to be a part of the NCRF governance and program restructuring. I believe that change is what makes us stronger. Change is both exciting and scary, but it’s what prepares us for, and secures for us, the future.

I came to NCRA in 1987 as Director of Research and Technology and was named Deputy Executive Director of the Foundation in 1992, when it first became a separate operating entity.  The Foundation was formed in 1980 but didn’t have a staff or its own budget until 1992. Prior to that, the NCRA board was the NCRF board. It was with good fortune at the time that NCRA’s Executive Director Brian Cartier had come from a foundation background, and so he knew that it was important for the Foundation to operate as a separate entity if it was going be the most effective in supporting the mission of NCRA.

One of the most exciting opportunities has been working with so many Trustees from different backgrounds over the years. Unlike the NCRA Board of Directors, which is comprised of Association members, NCRF’s Board of Trustees is open to public members. This diversity has been and will continue to be essential to NCRF from both the programmatic and the fundraising perspectives.  Over the years, the NCRF Board of Trustees has welcomed not just court reporters and captioners, but legal videographers, business leaders, representatives from the deaf and hard-of-hearing community, and judges and court administrators from the judiciary.

The Foundation has accomplished so much over the years, and it has been nothing short of a gift that I was able to be a part of its growth and numerous achievements. The successes the Foundation has enjoyed have been many. Among those especially close to my heart include:

  • Establishing the Robert H. Clark Library to preserve the history of the court reporting and captioning professions
  • Supporting research projects on state licensure and the cost benefits of court reporter technology
  • Creating an in-depth guide for the courts to use when assessing their record-making needs
  • Developing CART guidelines in partnership with the American Judges Foundation
  • Building strong relationships with judges, court administrators, and other court personnel
  • Supporting the work of Intersteno
  • Managing participation in national court technology conferences (CTCs)
  • Awarding grants to the College of William & Mary Law School in Williamsburg, Va., to ensure that a stenographic court reporter was on hand to demonstrate to visitors the highest level of making the record
  • Awarding more than $110K in scholarships to court reporting and captioning students and new professionals
  • Issuing grants to deaf and hard-of-hearing organizations in support of realtime and CART services to provide them access to important information
  • Producing a book that cites reporters as litigation managers, as well as one on providing realtime in the educational setting
  • Producing the acclaimed Hay Study that cited reporters as “professionals” in the truest human resources terminology and created job descriptions for freelancers and officials as certified managers of reporting services
  • Creating the Oral Histories Program, which serves as the umbrella to so many important efforts, including the Veterans History Project in conjunction with the Library of Congress and the Holocaust Survivors to support the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Establishing the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute to support new professionals
  • Creating teaching tools under the Legal Education Program to better educate attorneys and others in the legal field about the importance of a court reporter in making the official record
  • Expanding support to students through the Student Initiatives Program, and more

NCRF exists primarily through the generosity and support of its donors, and those donors are predominantly NCRA members. It is through your generous support and commitment to the Foundation’s mission that all of these programs and more have been successful. Each and every one of you constantly has amazed me with your spirit and your belief in NCRF and its mission.

NCRF is about to embark on a new strategic plan that will be structured to support the strategic plan recently launched by NCRA. Under the leadership of NCRA CEO and Executive Director Marcia Ferranto, the Association is on target to meet the goals it has set for itself over the next three years. It has been such a pleasure to work with so many wonderful people over the years and to feel a part of something that is working for “the greater good.” I am proud of and humbled by my association with NCRA and NCRF, and I am blessed to have many close relationships as a result of it. I have committed almost half of my life to NCRF and have received so much more than I feel I have given. I mean that.

I have every intention of continuing my commitment to NCRF and the court reporting and captioning professions, but right now I want to commit to my family. I’m really excited to be able to make my husband and family my main priority at this stage of my life. I have every intention of checking in from time to time to see just how much stronger NCRF continues to grow!

I love NCRF and will cherish the memories and friendships from these many years. To the thousands of people who have donated to NCRF over the years, thank you so much for your support. Please don’t stop! As I always say, “every dollar counts,” and with our new strategic plan, your donation is even more important than ever.

And to the many, many wonderful people I have had the privilege to know and work with, you will always be in my heart. Thank you for your continued commitment to NCRF’s mission and support of the court reporting and captioning professions. Thank you for all you have given me both professionally and personally.

With sincere appreciation and great affection,

 

 

 

 

BJ Shorak
Deputy Executive Director
National Court Reporters Foundation

In honor of Shorak’s retirement, NCRF has launched a fundraising effort to honor her commitment to the Foundation and to the court reporting and captioning professions. Visit the NCRF donation page to make a contribution in honor of Shorak’s 31 years of service to the court reporting and captioning professions.

Read the press release.