“Tough Love Part 2” session confirmed for NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit

Mike Miller

NCRA member and past NCRA Director Mike Miller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Houston, Texas, has been confirmed as a presenter at NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit being held Feb. 1-3 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt in beautiful San Diego, Calif.

Miller is known for his popular Depoman.com forum, which provided court reporters with a medium to share insights and address common issues from 1997 to 2015, as well as his Tough Love session. As a Business Summit presenter, he will lead a seminar called “Tough Love Part 2.” According to Miller, this session will challenge most sacred beliefs about the business of court reporting with a focus on why being stuck in 1985 isn’t going to alleviate any of the issues faced by agencies and reporters in the 21st century.

“Everyone in the court reporting and captioning professions is a business, from the largest international agencies to officials to freelancers to CART providers,” said Miller, who is known for his candor. “Do yourself a favor and learn from the experts on how to run your business.”

Eunice Carpitella

Eunice Carpitella, a professor at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, will serve as keynote speaker. She will address the practical idea that simple shifts in our routine patterns of interaction and mindset make it possible for business leaders to include, engage, and unleash everyone in solving problems, driving innovation, and achieving extraordinary outcomes.

Early registration rates end Dec. 10, for NCRA’s 2019 Business Summit. To save even more money, attendees are encouraged to book their hotel now before the guaranteed room block ends Jan. 8, 2019. Online registration for the 2019 Business Summit closes Jan. 20, 2019, and onsite registration and pricing starts Jan. 21, 2019.

Don’t forget, February is the perfect time to book early and stay late to enjoy the beauty, sunshine, and numerous attractions San Diego has to offer.

Pengad gift card winner says NCRA membership lets her connect

Nicole Bresnick

Nicole Bresnick, a captioner with the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program, is the winner of a $100 Pengad gift card for renewing her NCRA membership early.

Bresnick, a longtime member, was entered into the special drawing along with others who renewed their NCRA memberships in September and October.

“I became a member of NCRA as a student to get connected with my fellow students and the industry, and I have stayed a member, really, for the same reasons; but also, because it’s the right thing to do for my court reporting and captioning community,” said Bresnick, who resides in Madison, Wis.

“What I love most about being a CART captioner is that, working in an academic setting, I’m able to support the amazing students I work with to achieve great things in their education and then beyond. It’s also been great to learn how to be a better ally for deaf and hard-of-hearing people and to help pass that information on to other people in the hearing world,” she added.

Member benefits continue to include:

  • A listing* in both the print and online versions of the NCRA Sourcebook
  • A subscription to the JCR Magazine and the JCR Weekly
  • Multiple certification programs with online skills tests designed to make you more money
  • Access to discounted group insurance programs through Mercer for personal liability and errors and omissions
  • Member pricing to can’t-miss networking and educational events at the NCRA Convention & Expo (Aug. 15-18, 2019) and NCRA Business Summit (Feb. 1-3, 2019), formerly known as the Firm Owners Executive Conference
  • First-class online educational opportunities

Renewing is easy and available online at NCRA.org/renew or by calling 800-272-6272. Members can expect to receive their membership card via email within approximately two weeks of renewing if they have a valid email address and have not previously opted out of Constant Contact email messaging.

For more information, contact Brenda Gill, NCRA’s Membership Manager, at bgill@ncra.org.

* Registered, Participating, and Associate members are eligible for this benefit.


NCRF accepting nominations for Frank Sarli Memorial and Student Intern scholarships

2017 Sarli and Intern recipients

The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) is now accepting nominations for the Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship and the Student Intern Scholarship. The deadline for both these scholarships is Dec. 10. Beginning this year, both scholarship opportunities are open to NCRA student members enrolled in any court reporting program, not just NCRA approved programs.

Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship

NCRF’s Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship of $2,000 has benefited court reporting students nearing graduation for 20 years. The award honors the late Frank Sarli, a court reporter who was committed to supporting students at the highest level of their education. Sarli, who was studying to become a professional pianist, turned to court reporting when he could no longer afford the tuition to music school. During his career, he opened Accurate Court Reporters in Orlando, Fla., Orange County’s first independent court reporting firm, and was a founding member of the Florida Shorthand Reporters Association. Sarli also served in numerous roles at the national level, including as a director for NCRA. He was the first Floridian to earn NCRA’s Distinguished Service Award.

“I chose to be a court reporter because I wanted a job that has a relatively flexible schedule to permit me to do volunteer work and dedicate time to being a minister,” said Jared Orozco, a student from Sheridan Technical College in Hollywood, Fla., and recipient of the 2017 Frank Sarli Scholarship.

“After I finish school, my ultimate goal would be to work in transcribing sermons to expedite their translation so it can be of benefit to people all over the world,” he added.

Court reporting students must be nominated by an instructor or advisor and meet a number of specific criteria to be eligible, including:

  • enrollment in a court reporting program
  • passing at least one of the court reporting program’s Q&A tests at a minimum of 200 words per minute
  • having a GPA of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale,
  • demonstrating the need for financial assistance
  • possessing the qualities exemplified by a professional court reporter, including attitude, demeanor, dress, and motivation

Submit a nomination for the Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship.

Student Intern Scholarship

Each year, NCRF awards two $1,000 scholarships to students who have completed or are currently performing the required internship portion of their court reporting program. They must also meet other specific criteria, including:

  • enrollment in a court reporting program
  • current membership in NCRA
  • having a grade point average of at least 3.5 on a 4.0 scale

A generous annual donation from the Reis Family Foundation helps fund these scholarships.

“Court reporting has always been the one job that has stuck out in my mind as my ‘dream job.’ I was always discouraged from going into this career because people are very misinformed about the opportunities available for a court reporter,” said Summer Vaughan, a student from College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind., one of two recipients of the 2017 Student Intern Scholarships. “Once I began my court reporting internship, I knew I was right where I had always wanted to be,” she added.

Submit a nomination for the Student Intern Scholarship.

NCRF’s scholarships and grant are supported by donations to the NCRF Angels Drive and other fundraisers. To learn more about these scholarships, and to find the nomination forms, please visit NCRA.org/NCRF.

Upcoming live webinar tackles uses of Dropbox for reporters

Kim Greiner

Kimberly R. Greiner, RDR, CRR, CRC, will offer a live webinar Dropbox: Getting Started, Sharing, and Making the Most of It through NCRA’s Continuing Education Program. The live webinar, which is sponsored by NCRA’s Technology Committee, occurs on Nov. 12 from 8-9 p.m. ET. Register here.

Greiner shared the following about what attendees can expect from this session.

“Dropbox is an important tool I use to ensure I have everything I need at my fingertips,” Greiner explained. “My desire is for attendees to walk away with a complete understanding of how it really works, where your files are, what should be synced, and how this cloud storage can best function for you.”

Dropbox can be an important tool for managing your files, whether you like to share with your scopist as you are working on the files or you need a place to upload your backup before you leave your workplace.

In addition, Greiner explained: “I will walk through this cloud storage from the beginning, show you how to share files, manage your storage, backup or retrieve files, and how to collaborate with a scopist using a shared folder. I will also cover Case CATalyst Work Units using Dropbox so you can see and understand, before you need to use it, what you and your scopist can expect, and setting suggestions.”

Register now for this live webinar to earn 0.10 CEU.

New prices set to go into effect for NCRA certifications program

One of the NCRA benefits most highly rated by members is its certifications program, which test members on reaching certain standards of practice in the profession. NCRA’s certifications, which include the RPR, RMR, RDR, CRR, CRC, and CLVS, are nationally recognized in the professional court reporting, captioning, and legal video professions, and, in some states, are required for a court reporter to work.

Effective January 2019, all Written Knowledge Test registration fees will increase by $10 in all categories. The new prices will be:

  • $160 (student member)
  • $195 (member)
  • $220 (non-member)

Effective January 2019, all online Skills Test registration fees will increase by $5 in all categories. The new prices will be:

Each RPR/RMR skills test leg(s):

  • $77 (student member)
  • $95 (member)
  • $120 (non-member)

CRR skills test: $200

CRC skills test:

  • $170 (student member)
  • $200 (member)
  • $220 (non-member)

NCRA strives to keep fees low for all members, especially regarding certification, which can be required for some people to work in certain states. Online skills test fees have had no increase since the inception of online testing in August 2015. The last time Written Knowledge Test fees were increased was in 2012. The increase of 4 percent is far lower than the change in the standard of living over the same period.

Here’s your opportunity to give back to the profession

By Christine J. Willette

Chris Willette

Are you looking for an opportunity to give back to the profession from which you have gained so much? Would you like to be a part of the team that promotes excellence among those who capture and convert the spoken word to text and is committed to supporting every member in achieving the highest level of professional expertise? Put your leadership skills to work by volunteering to serve on the NCRA Board of Directors.

NCRA is the premier organization representing the court reporting and captioning professions. Its Directors and Officers work together to steer the organization towards a sustainable future by adopting sound, ethical, and legal governance and financial management policies, as well as providing strategic guidance to ensure NCRA provides the necessary resources for success.

Article III – Membership, Section 9 c) states, “Only Registered Members who are verbatim stenographic reporters or Retired Members and Retired Lifetime Members who have been verbatim stenographic reporters or Honorary Members who have been verbatim stenographic reporters shall be eligible to hold an elective office of the Association.”

The Board of Directors represents the wide diversity of the NCRA membership through its nomination and election of Officers and Directors. This diversity of perspective, background, and thought includes both the variety of professions members engage in – captioner, educator, firm owner, freelancer, and official – and the cultural, socioeconomic, race, gender, and other differences that give us our unique perspectives. The Nominating Committee will consider nominations that reflect this broad spectrum of experience.

When recommending yourself or someone else for Board service, please review the list below which contains some of the criteria the Nominating Committee will take into consideration:

  • Active NCRA member
  • Altruistic
  • NCRA committee/task force work experience
  • Leadership qualities and experience
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Commitment to NCRA growth and sustainability
  • Professionalism

Candidates should exemplify the qualities of leadership in the court reporting and captioning professions. In your recommendation, please include why you think the candidate should serve on the NCRA Board. Do not hesitate to nominate yourself.

Declare your candidacy or submit recommendations to boardnominations@ncra.org by Jan. 18, 2019. As a courtesy, please contact your candidate directly prior to submitting his or her name.

A Web-based, no-obligation orientation will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 9, for anyone interested in seeking future Board service. This briefing will help you gain a better understanding of the process and expectations of serving on the Board. Sign-up for the Webinar.

The Nominating Committee and I sincerely thank you for your consideration!

Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, is Immediate Past President of NCRA and 2018-2019 Chair of the NCRA Nominating Committee.



Members have access to more than 10 insurance products

By Natalie Dippenaar

A major benefit of NCRA membership is access to Mercer Health and Benefits Administration’s many different products at reasonable prices.

Mercer works with members to find insurance for a variety of professional and personal needs through a number of carriers. Doing so allows members to compare prices and select the package and price that best suits their needs. By working with NCRA, Mercer has made it easy for members and their families to get the protection they need at an economical price and the process of getting insurance a little less daunting.

And here’s some great news: Mercer is adding home and auto insurance as a new benefit for members in December! In addition to the new home and auto options, here are a few of the most popular insurance plans with NCRA members.

Equipment used for business is often not insurable under your homeowner’s policy. Protect your equipment from loss, damage, theft, and vandalism with premiums starting as low as $50 per year and no deductible. Additionally, premiums may also be tax-deductible as a normal business expense.

Professional Liability
Consider the catastrophic losses that can result if you are faced with an errors and omissions suit. Protect yourself financially against a wide variety of lawsuit situations, including court judgments or out-of-court settlements. Coverage is portable and up to $1,000,000 in coverage is available with no deductible.

Group Accidental Death and Dismemberment
This plan provides accidental death benefits for covered accidents, as well as benefits for covered accidental loss of the use of certain body parts or functions, regardless of whether you are able to work or not. Benefits range from $50,000 to $500,000 in $50,000 increments.

Long-Term Care
The need for long-term care usually arises from age, chronic illness, injury, or disability. It is predicted that at least 70 percent of people over age 65 will need long-term care services and support at some time in their lives and most people don’t plan for it.

Group Dental
Dental care is expensive and often neglected due to the cost. Providing comprehensive coverage and a broad network of dentists, this plan has competitive rates to help you afford your dental treatments.

Pets are part of the family too, and when your pet becomes sick or injured, you don’t need the added stress of worrying about how you will pay the veterinary bill. Pet insurance is offered through Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI), the nation’s oldest and largest provider of health insurance for pets. A VPI policy provides you with the freedom to obtain the best medical care for your dog, cat, bird, rabbit or other exotic pet at specially negotiated and affordable rates. For more information, call 1-800-USA-PETS.

Cyber Privacy Liability
With increased worries about cyber threats, this is a plan you may want to consider. This plan is designed to mitigate losses from a variety of cyber incidents. This integrated insurance and risk management program offers access to human resources- and data management-related services.

NCRA provides a tool to help you meet your healthcare needs, including whatever information you need on tax breaks or penalties, available coverage in your area, or to find out if a life event has changed your insurable status. Now is the time to investigate your options in order to make confident and informed decisions to protect you and your family at a rate that fits your budget. Open enrollment is from November 1 to December 15.

For more information

To see all NCRA insurance options available to you, please visit NCRAInsurance.com. For a few products, there are specific websites or phone numbers to call. See below for some of the more popular ways to find out more information about Mercer’s products.

  • For health insurance*, visit GetInsured.com/NCRA or call 866-454-6479 between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15, 2018.
  • For Long Term insurance, call 800-358-3795.
  • If you have general questions, call 800-503-9230.

*Not all plans may be available in all states.

Natalie Dippenaar is NCRA’s Assistant Director of Member Relations.

2018 changes to Bylaws create new elections processes

Following the 2018 NCRA Annual Business Meeting, members voted to change the procedures for holding elections of members to the Board of Directors. Those changes will go into effect with the 2019 election process.

Overall, the changes will affect the timing of elections and when candidates are elevated to office. Since elections will continue through electronic means, please watch for email notices from NCRA in June and July.

More specifically, the Bylaws changed the following:

  • Members will now be able to vote for a time period of 24 hours instead of only for 12 hours.
  • Voting will occur at least 30 days before the Annual Business Meeting. (Although the timing of the 2019 Annual Business Meeting has not yet been set, the expected dates for the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo are Aug. 15-18.) See timeline below.
  • Voting on changes to the NCRA Constitution & Bylaws will not take place at the same time as the elections of members to the Board of Directors. Bylaws will continue to be voted on after the Annual Business Meeting, and members will be able to vote on Bylaws amendments for 24 hours.

In addition, if there are more candidates than the number of open seats for Director, candidates will no longer need to specify that they are opposing a specific candidate for a Director’s seat. This will also allow as many candidates who want to run for a seat to do so. Candidates will be elected to the Director seats by plurality of the votes; that is, the Directors’ seats will be filled by the candidates receiving the most votes in descending order. For example, if there were two openings for Directors and five nominees on the ballot, the two candidates who receive the most votes would fill the two available positions.

Finally, the Board of Directors will gradually reduce the number of Directors from nine to six over the next few years. To put this into place, Directors will be nominated to fill two Director seats instead of three. Directors will continue to be elected to three-year terms. (The exception: If additional seats are made available because of a Director’s elevation to Officer or for other reasons, additional candidates will be sought and nominated to complete the remainder of the term.)

This change to six Directors is expected to be completed in three years.

Members interested in nominating a colleague or hoping to serve on the Board may wish to attend a webinar on January 9, 2019, 8 p.m. ET. Contact Laura Butler at boardnominations@ncra.org to learn more about the webinar. Read more information on nominations.

Other amendments that were put into effect following the 2018 Annual Business Meeting do not affect the election procedure.

Globe Newswire notes retirement of NCRF Deputy Executive Director

The Globe Newswire picked up an Oct. 30 press release from the National Court Reporters Association announcing the retirement of BJ Shorak, Deputy Executive Director of the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF). NCRF is the philanthropic arm of NCRA.  Shorak will retire in January 2019.

Read more.

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.