Welcome to the digital edition of the JCR!

In addition to the print JCR, members have access to a digital version. There’s still nothing like holding a physical magazine in your hands, but the digital version is typically available a little earlier than the print arrives in mailboxes and has a few enhanced features:

  • search for specific terms
  • bookmark a page to easily reference later
  • write notes to yourself
  • share pages with colleagues

The digital edition is also hyperlinked, so clicking on any link will take you directly to the appropriate website.

Members can access the digital magazine at NCRA.org/JCRmag (you may be prompted to log in). Choose the issue you wish to read by clicking “View Digital Issue” by that month’s cover. You will need to log in again to access the magazine on the web-hosting site; this is the same login information as you use for NCRA.org. The first time you log in, you will have the opportunity to take a tutorial to become familiar with all of the digital magazine’s online features and how to navigate the digital version.

Highlights from the October issue:

The digital edition is compatible with most smartphones, tablets, and computers.

NCRA member named Employee of the Year at Brooklyn Supreme Court

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyThe Brooklyn Daily Eagle (N.Y.) reported on Oct. 6 that NCRA member and senior court reporter Enika Bodnar, RPR, CRI, was named the Employee of the Year at the Brooklyn Supreme Court. Bodnar has been working in the court system since July 1996 and started at Brooklyn Supreme Court in March 2007.

Read more.

My wonderful home in Asia

Scene of a Japanese temple surrounded by mountains, fall foliage, and water, with a bridgeAfter scanning the JCR job ads for interesting opportunities, Mary Allred, RPR, from Alberta, Canada, relocated to Japan in 2015. As a reporter for Planet Depos, she provides realtime services in the areas of depositions and arbitrations not only in Japan, but in Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Guam, Singapore, and Macao. This piece on living and working internationally is an excerpt from a full-length article in the 2017 November/December issue of the JCR.

How did the opportunity for you to work outside of Canada come about? I was living and working in Calgary, Alberta. The posting for Asia was advertised in the JCR, and when I saw it, I sent an email with an inquiry for details. The rest fell into place from there.

What made you want to work outside of Canada? I have always had the travel bug, and I had obtained the RPR certification with the intention of traveling and working around the world, including in the United States.

What was the hardest adjustment you had to make when you moved outside of Canada? I had to learn quickly how to handle the heat and humidity. Not a single piece of clothing I brought with me is still in rotation in my wardrobe. Also, there was a drastic but pleasant lifestyle change going from a car society to a train society. The public transport system in Japan is famous for a reason. It can take you anywhere! It also requires a lot of walking. I’ve made more than my fair share of train mistakes and ended up in strange places, but each one was its own adventure.

I was surprised that the language barrier was not as much of a challenge as I thought it would be. Everyone has probably heard the saying that most of communication is non-verbal, and I have definitely learned this is true. I was lucky as well that several phone apps are available that can take a photo and translate text to semi-readable English. I have managed to avoid washing my hair with laundry detergent for two years due to their assistance!

Did you relocate on your own or did you have assistance from a hiring firm? The firm took care of all relocation details. I moved to Japan sight unseen and with only the knowledge I accumulated from long forgotten school information and old samurai movies. Housing and flights are covered by my firm to help ease the transition.

Do you receive benefits such as health insurance, 401K, pension, or are you considered an independent contractor? As a resident of Japan, my health insurance is covered under the National Health Service, which is included in taxes.

What has been the best experience in working outside of Canada? It has been such an adventure living and working in Asia. I have worked through many earthquakes and a few typhoons. I have loved the ability to experience other cultures much more in-depth than is possible during a short trip. My work takes me all over Asia, and I have been able to see shrines and temples, castles and skyscrapers in some of the world’s most beautiful places.

Do you plan to return to Canada to work again? At this time I have no plans to leave my wonderful home in Asia.

Will you retire outside of Canada? I’m sure someday I will return to my home in Canada, probably around the same time I finally start to enjoy the heat!

What tips do you have for someone considering working outside of Canada? Have patience! Some days even the simplest thing can turn into an ordeal as you learn different ways to do things. Do not ever be afraid to ask for help. The language barrier can be a challenge, but being polite and understanding will make the people helping you more willing to go the extra mile to make your job easier.

What advice do you have for someone searching for work outside of Canada? The JCR job bank was an excellent resource for me. Once you are there, there are amazing tools nowadays for meeting people and trying new things. Sign up for Meetup.com and join local Facebook groups, and in no time you’ll build a network of friends, making your time in your adopted country the most amazing experience possible.

What is your favorite food there? Impossible to list it all! Asian food is amazing. In Japan my favorites are Japanese curry and tonkotsu ramen. In Taiwan I always look for a 50Lan tea shop and get Yakult lemonade or a bubble tea. In Korea, be prepared to burn all your taste buds off with some spicy fried chicken; and in Hong Kong get the Michelin Hong Kong Street Food Guide and try everything!

Last call for JCR Awards nominations

Nominations for the 2017 JCR Awards are closing Oct. 31. Nominate yourself or another noteworthy court reporter, captioner, videographer, scopist, teacher, school administrator, or court reporting manager for recognition through the JCR Awards.

Conceived as a way to recognize and highlight the exemplary professionalism, community service, and business practices of NCRA members, the JCR Awards is a way to tell compelling stories that bring to life innovative and successful business strategies from the past year. In addition to nominations for several subcategories, NCRA is looking for a firm and an individual who show excellence in more than one category for an overall “Best of the Year” award.

Any current NCRA member in good standing, with the exception of students, may be nominated for these awards. Court reporters, captioners, videographers, scopists, teachers and school administrators, and court reporting managers are all eligible for nomination. Self-nominations are accepted. Firms, courthouses, or court reporting programs may be nominated as a group as long as they meet the criteria for membership for one of the definitions in the JCR Awards Entry Form.

To nominate yourself or someone else, submit a written entry to the JCR between 300 and 1,000 words explaining the strategies implemented and why they were successful. Ancillary materials, such as photos, may also be submitted with the nomination. Nominations will be considered by the JCR editorial team based on the best fact-based story.

Please be prepared to offer documentation, verifiable sources, or other assistance as needed to be considered for these awards. The stories of the finalists will be published as featured articles in the March JCR.

Nominations are due by Oct. 31. Read more about the JCR Awards.

Reporteras de la corte: Una profesión bien pagada, pero poco conocida/Court reporting: A well-paying but little-known profession

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyA Sept. 7 article in the Spanish publication La Opinión highlights NCRA members Alma Zapata, RPR; Camille Márquez; and Adriana Montañez, who are all officials in Southern California. The article, which is in Spanish, discusses how each of them came to reporting as well as the benefits of a career in reporting, including salary potential, flexibility, and the opportunity to learn something new every day. The article also suggests that being bilingual is an advantage to learning steno.

Read more.

A broadcast captioner sees the future in realtime

A woman sits in front of a steno machine, set up to work from home. On her desk is her laptop and paper notes propped up for easy viewing. On the wall is a television screen with a news show.By Cathy Penniston

I live in Iowa, but I make my living listening to the Canadian news. I work for The Captioning Group, Inc., based in Calgary, Alberta, as a remote broadcast captioner four days a week. But every Thursday, I take a break from the news and travel to Newton, Iowa, to teach court reporting students at the Des Moines Area Community College. My goal is to share my wealth of experience with my students. I have worked as an official shorthand reporter, a freelance reporter, a CART captioner, and a broadcast captioner, and I bring this real-world experience to my classes.

As a busy broadcast television captioner and an instructor of court reporting students, I encourage my students to embrace realtime. If my students comment that it is difficult to learn realtime, I remind them that when I went to court reporting school, there were manual Stenograph machines and typewriters. Long vowels? That would be taken care of when reporters sat down at the typewriter to type each page into English from their paper shorthand notes. Nowadays, this is all done instantaneously through high-tech machines.

But more so, I believe that realtime is vital to the continued successful future of the court reporting profession. A digital recording in a courtroom cannot accurately provide a real-time speech-to-text feed of the live proceedings to the judge. And a digital recording cannot provide live captions of breaking news or emergency information broadcast over television stations where realtime captions are needed to save lives.

At first, realtime stenography can seem quite daunting. But excellent instructors and programs can get students on the path to achieving their goals and becoming successful in the field of realtime captioning. Here are seven tips from a broadcast captioner and court reporting instructor to get started on your journey to learning realtime.

  1. Enjoy realtime and the great feeling of success when steno words translate into English correctly. Do not be afraid of realtime.
  2. Analyze and correct every word that does not translate from steno to English correctly. There is a reason for every untranslated word. Why did that word not translate? What can you do to correct that word to make it translate properly for your next transcript? Do not ignore untranslates!
  3. Know your dictionary and how words are going to translate with your dictionary. Finger combinations that work well for one student may not work well for another student. Try the suggested way to write the word. If the finger combination does not work for you, try writing it in a way that will translate for you. Define the word in your dictionary that way and write it down. Practice that word until you have memorized it.
  4. Briefs are good only if you memorize them and remember them quickly. A bad brief is worse than no brief at all. Your goal is a good realtime translation.
  5. Write out every word and add it to your dictionary for the time when you forget your brief. Do not hesitate to remember briefs.
  6. Your goal is great realtime translations, not winning a race for having the most briefs and then hesitating during speed tests trying to remember those briefs. Briefs can be your best friend or your enemy in realtime reporting.
  7. Back up your dictionary every week. Email a copy of your dictionary to yourself and back it up in the cloud.

Realtime reporting is the key to the future of our profession. Embrace realtime as you strive to achieve your goal of graduation from school.

After working for many years as an official shorthand reporter in the State of Iowa, Cathy Penniston, RPR, CRI, CSR, “retired” to pursue her dream of completing her master’s degree in teaching and working as a remote television broadcast captioner and teacher. She can be reached at cpenniston@gmail.com. This article was originally published, in a slightly different format, on the blog for The Captioning Group as “7 Things Your Instructor Wants You to Know About Realtime Writing!”

Striking a different key, and hitting a new note

A young woman sits in front of a steno machine poised as ready to write. Her laptop is open on the table in front of her.Brittaney Byers, of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) in Parma, Ohio, has been working at the keys since she was 4 years old, practicing her drills and improving her finger dexterity. Before starting at Tri-C, she had been trained by some of the best at Cleveland State University. But Byers isn’t a lifelong stenographer; she’s a pianist who went searching for a different tune.

Can you talk a little about your background? Did you start the program straight out of high school or did you have another career first?

When I came out of high school, I was originally aiming for a career in music therapy. However, that didn’t work out. I ended up studying at Cuyahoga Community College after leaving my previous university, originally for a degree in liberal arts, and then switching to the court reporting and captioning program.

How did you first get the idea of being a court reporter?

When I was studying at Tri-C, I was kind of unsure about what I should focus on studying while I was there, and I was looking for a career that would allow flexibility in my schedule and a lot of typing, which I enjoyed. (At the time, I had no idea that writing on a steno machine was any different than writing on a QWERTY keyboard.) I happened to be looking at television one day, saw the captions running across the bottom of the screen, and thought, “I wonder who does that, and I wonder if I could do that.” I looked up stenography and found out there was a court reporting and captioning program at the school I was already currently attending! I just decided to go for it!

How does being a pianist translate into stenography? What about it makes it easier (or harder) to write?  

I think I’m better able to learn briefs and finger combinations than I would be if I didn’t study piano. I also think I’m at a better place with my finger dexterity. However, the thing that helps the most is not from a writing perspective. Studying piano in school was very similar to studying stenography. Most of the things that my professors ask me to do now are the same as what my music professors asked me to do. Things like keeping a practice journal, reading back (or listening to myself) for feedback, using a metronome, isolating problem areas, and many other practice techniques are all things that I was introduced to (and continue to learn and work on now) while I was studying piano.

What other skill sets do you think would be helpful for a court reporter to possess?

The more I learn about this field, the more I realize how critical good organizational skills are to a successful court reporter. This is definitely something that I am still working on and will probably be working on for a very long time to improve. I can only imagine how much it takes to keep your schedule together for jobs (especially if you work with more than one agency), organize taxes and other financial things, and keep the rest of your life in order.

What kinds of challenges have you faced during your court reporting program?

My biggest challenge is trying to find a healthy balance between work, school, and life. I am currently working full time, which is not something I was doing when I was studying music, so trying to find the correct balance between earning enough income and having enough time and energy to practice is something that I am working to perfect.

What is the best advice you’ve been given so far?

I’ve been hearing this piece of advice in different forms and different places recently, but it still rings true. The biggest battle you have to fight will be with yourself. I have to continuously believe that I can do it. The speed is not going to be my biggest problem; it’s going to be my mindset. I have to battle myself to get on the machine after a long day of work, to stay encouraged after a bad test, or to do just five more minutes of writing when I feel I can’t anymore. I know if I can win the battle within myself and develop a positive mindset, and continue to improve my discipline, I will be able to succeed, no matter what.

If you were to go to a high school career fair to recruit students, what would you say to them about a career in court reporting and captioning?

I would let them know that if they wanted a career that would grant them a lot of flexibility and a high earning potential, they should join the court reporting field! We need more new faces! Of course, I would let them know that learning stenography and getting up to speed require a lot of discipline, but for the people who stick it through, there is great reward. I would tell them about the amazing experience I’ve had here at Tri-C and the awesome and supportive staff I’ve had the pleasure of working with. They will really do their part to make sure you have the best chance at success.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I hope to have passed the RPR Exam, and to have finished the court reporting and captioning program at Tri-C. I really want to go out to southern California and work there either doing freelance work or CART.

Commas and hyphens and exclamation points, oh my! A conversation about punctuation

White question marks painted on asphalt in a pattern, alternating between upside down and right-side up

Photo by: Véronique Debord-Lazaro

In honor of National Punctuation Day, which was on Sept. 24, the JCR hosted a discussion with NCRA’s Proofreading Advisory Council about punctuation marks. Members talked about whether they use the Oxford/serial comma or not, what they call #, what punctuation rules they look up the most, and what their favorite punctuation mark is. The following members shared their responses:

  • Aimee Suhie, RPR, a freelancer in New Fairfield, Conn.
  • Judy Lehman, FAPR, RMR, CRI, an official in Shelbyville, Ill.
  • Janine Ferren, RPR, CRR, a freelancer in Fishers, Ind.
  • Patricia Miller, CRI, CPE, an instructor in Middletown, Del.
  • Francesca Ivy, RPR, a freelancer in Metairie, La.
  • Kathy McHugh, RPR, CRR, a freelancer in Audubon, N.J.
  1. Do you use the Oxford/serial comma? Why or why not?

Aimee Suhie: I’m sorry to say I despise the Oxford comma and have never used it. I figure if you have an and or an or in the sentence, why do you need a comma before it? If you have a list like book, pencil, desk — bingo, commas! But if you have book, pencil and desk, isn’t that why the and is there? I know even the New York Times uses the Oxford comma, but when I was a newspaper reporter, I never did.

Judy Lehman: I do use the Oxford/serial comma. Although it takes a little more time — and I don’t love it — it clarifies things that may otherwise be ambiguous. Good example found here.

Janine Ferren: Yes, I do use the Oxford comma. [Ed note: Janine referenced the slightly risqué Web comic that involves JFK, Stalin, and two dancing girls that is frequently cited in editing, proofing, and grammar circles.]

Patricia Miller: I do use the Oxford/serial comma. I like to be precise and for sentences to be as clear as possible. If a situation warrants leaving it out, I will do that. Flexibility in punctuation is important in order for the message to say what it intends to say.

I do not understand the intensity of feeling that some have regarding any individual mark of punctuation (nor the dogmatic application, or not, of any one rule or style). It’s a living language, people! We are professionally alive and vital because we can adapt better than the other methods. They all, the marks, exist as tools to help the reader see the words and the message as smoothly as possible. They can be used creatively to misdirect the reader (not in our profession, of course) and can be piled in to make words as precise as math.

Francesca Ivy: I use the Oxford/serial comma. Always have and always will. It is what I learned to do, and I agree that it prevents sentences from being misunderstood.

Kathy McHugh: I don’t always use the Oxford comma — it seemed unnecessary a lot of the times — but I think you ladies have convinced me it serves a purpose.

  1. What is # called?

AS: To show my age, # means number to me, not hashtag!

JL: Yeah, it’s the number symbol for me, too. Hashtag means what, anyway?

JF: I always used to call it the number sign. Then people started calling it pound, such as on the telephone. At first I didn’t know what it was. I figured out that it was the number sign by process of elimination, because it definitely wasn’t the star! Then hashtag started with the social media platforms. I use all three terms now, depending on what I’m referring to.

PM: I use the word that fits the usage. So hashtag if social media. Pound sign or number sign if communication, such as a telephone number. Pound as a measurement.

FI: If I see it standing alone like above, I call it the number sign. If it is connected with social media, I say hashtag.

KM: I would automatically call # the pound sign, but I understand its other meanings.

  1. Which punctuation rule do you double check the most?

AS: I memorized Lillian Morson’s amazing punctuation rules for commas and semicolons in sentences and faithfully followed her rules of “comma, comma, semicolon” and never more than two commas. In recent years, however, I definitely strayed from that rule and used separate sentences more instead of semicolons to allow the attorney who might be reading this aloud to a jury to be more clear on where each sentence was going. I didn’t check the rules because I was so impressed by every word she wrote (and spoke at conventions — I even got to meet her!) that I absorbed them and thought each made perfect sense. I did and do have to check Mary Louise Gilman’s One Word, Two Words, Hyphenated?, however, several times per transcript.

JL: Probably hyphenations and one word/two words are what I check most. I have several copies of Mary Louise Gilman’s One Word, Two Words, Hyphenated? around. It’s an oldie but a goodie. While grading fast-fingered reporter speed tests this past weekend, we had several of those issues arise — housecleaning or house cleaning, for instance.

JF: What punctuation rule do I check the most? Numbers and hyphens.

PM: That’s tricky. It’s not the rule so much as the application in a particular situation. I investigate hyphens the most.

FI: I would probably say quotation rules, especially in the Q&A form when parts of another transcript are read into the record I’m taking. It doesn’t happen too often in depositions.

KM: I check the need to hyphenate words the most.

  1. What is your favorite punctuation mark?

AS: Love the dash! Makes sentences so clear to the attorney reading them.

JL: My fave punctuation mark for transcripts is the reporter dash. That may be obvious from my first two answers. It’s awesome for enhancing readability, which is what transcripts are all about. For other writing I do, likely my favorite is the much maligned and underutilized semicolon! I’ve taught English classes for court reporters, medical transcription students, and accounting students, and I currently teach some professional development classes in adult education. I harp on the correct usage of this jewel.

JF: My favorite! Punctuation! Mark! Is one I never use in a transcript! Can you guess what it is?! I’m Italian, I speak with my hands, and so I use the exclamation point like I use my hands.

PM: I like getting to the end of a long sentence without needing any internal punctuation. I do not have a favorite mark. All the kids get to play on my team.

FI: I would have to go with the exclamation point, probably because I don’t get to use it in transcripts!!!

KM: I guess the exclamation point would be my favorite as well but, yes, never used in a transcript.

NCRF: Getting to know NCRF’s Major Gifts donors

In 2015, the National Court Reporters Foundation initiated a new program to allow people interested in the court reporting, captioning, and legal video professions the opportunity to support several programs devoted to maintaining and promoting those professions and aiding students and new professionals through several educational initiatives. NCRF currently maintains several programs to promote court reporting and captioning. Two prominent programs are the Legal Education Program and the Oral Histories Program, which both help practitioners showcase their unique skills to clients and the public. Other favorites support the growth of students and new professionals in the field, such as the Student Initiatives Program and the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute.

NCRA’s Major Gifts donors saw a benefit to supporting NCRF and its many programs. The JCR invited those eight donors to explain why they decided to support NCRF and what they see for the future of the profession.


Platinum Donor ($50,000+)

Headshot of an NCRF Major Gifts donor: a man in a suit in front of an office window with an urban background

Adam Friend

Veritext
Adam Friend
Senior Vice President, Business Development

Why did you decide to donate to NCRF?

As a company we had decided that we wanted to support the industry in a major way, particularly in support of investing in the long-term prosperity of our profession. In my discussions with Jan Ballman, FAPR, RPR, CMRS [then chair of the Foundation], I learned that the NCRF was looking to launch the Major Gifts Program. We thought that making a meaningful donation as part of this program would not only have a major positive impact on our industry, but also be publicized in a way to encourage others to contribute, which would amplify the effect of our gift.

How do you think that donating to NCRF helps the profession?

The NCRF has a noble mission with passionate and influential individuals dedicated to the long-term prosperity of our industry, as well as acting in a charitable way to support beautiful projects. The Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute, in its support of student recruitment and development, addresses a mission-critical need of our industry: educating the next generation of reporters who will be the future of the industry. The Student Initiatives Program similarly supports student engagement and development. Other programs such as the Oral Histories Program generally promote the visibility and reputation of the industry and the important role it plays in the legal system.

What would you tell other people about NCRF, and why they too should support it?

The court reporting industry has provided a livelihood and prosperity for many people, including reporters, business owners, and the staff they employ. Veritext believes that it is not only in our interest to promote the future of our profession, but also our duty to give back in gratitude and provide the opportunities for those generations that follow similar opportunities to build careers and thrive in this great profession.

What do you see as the future of the profession?

Stenographic reporting is an amazing skill and special talent that has always been and will continue to be valued by courts, litigators, the CART and captioning community, and others. While technology should continue to enhance the efficiency and quality of the process of converting the spoken word into the written one, the human element is and will always be central. We believe that the future is bright but we collectively should invest in ensuring that there are enough reporters to meet expected demand.


Silver Donors ($5,000+)

Headshot of an NCRF Major Gifts donor: a black and white image of a woman in professional attire

Jan Ballman

Jan Ballman, FAPR, RPR, CMRS
Paradigm Reporting & Captioning
Minneapolis, Minn.

As past chair and long-time supporter of NCRF, have you gained any more insight into NCRF and its purpose than you had before your service?

Serving on the Board of Trustees of NCRF was an amazing experience that opened my eyes even more to the good work of the Foundation. To know the Foundation is to love the Foundation! The more I saw firsthand the impact their programs had on our profession, the more I was driven to support NCRF at a higher level.

Do you have a favorite NCRF program?

My very favorite NCRF initiative is the Veterans History Project (VHP). This year, my firm will host its 8th Annual VHP Day. We held our first one in conjunction with my first year of service on the NCRF Board, and there was just no question that it would become an annual event. I now refer to it as “my favorite day of the year at Paradigm.” To participate in capturing veterans’ service stories for the Library of Congress as a way of honoring them for their service to our country is an amazingly meaningful opportunity!

Headshot of an NCRF Major Gifts donor: A woman in professional attire

Paula Behmke

Paula Behmke, RPR
San Francisco, Calif.

What motivated you to become a Major Gifts Donor?

We have to look to ourselves — the reporter and firm — to ensure the viability of our time-honored profession. The NCRF fills this need by its philanthropic endeavors.

There are many times that I’ve left an NCRA event meaning to make a donation when I returned home, but kept putting it aside. This year I made sure I followed through and am happy with the decision of giving back!

What value does NCRF hold for you?

For me, NCRF exemplifies integrity, collaboration, and dedication. As the charity arm for the profession, the Foundation helps us by providing programs that raise our profile, such as the Legal Education program, which helps court reporters explain what we do for our clients and the importance of our integrity in preserving the record. I believe that by working together with the Foundation, we can do great things.

Photo of NCRF Major Gifts donors: A man and a woman dressed as tourists are up close and personal with a koala in a tree

Jeffrey and Debra Cheyne

Debra K. Cheyne, CSR, M.A., and Jeffrey M. Cheyne
Sherwood, Ore.

As a long-time supporter of NCRF, what drew you to the Major Gifts program?

The desire to promote the welfare of others drew me to NCRF’s Major Gifts program, an opportunity to make a positive contribution for the betterment of our profession, the professional court reporters, captioners, CART and broadcast captioners, and students that NCRF programs support.

The Greek word “philanthropy” literally means “love of humanity,” and it is an honor to be a donor to a foundation whose mission and philanthropic programs exemplify the very meaning of the word.

How do you want NCRF’s programs to help the future of the profession?

NCRF programs help ensure that our profession as guardians of the record remains vital. The Foundation works in conjunction with NCRA to support court reporting students, both through the NCRA student membership oral history transcription program and various scholarships awarded annually to aspiring students and new professional court reporters.

The adage “It is better to give than receive” takes on a special meaning with NCRF, for by giving to the Foundation’s programs, I receive the gift of promoting our realtime profession. Now that’s a major gift!

Photo of an NCRF Major Gifts donor: A husband and wife in formal dress -- as if for a wedding -- gaze at each other

Robert and Mary Fabrize

Robert O. Fabrize
West Palm Beach, Fla.

Your donation was in memory of your wife. Can you tell us a little bit about her?

I met Mary Geus Anderson Fabrize in 1950, about the same time I met my first wife, Val. They were great friends. Val and Mary had studied together to be court reporters. Val and I stayed in touch with Mary and her family over the years. Mary and I both lost our spouses. Our long-time friendship brought us together, and we got married.

Mary had worked in federal courts, but after a stroke in 1984, she retired from reporting and began her teaching career, which she loved.

What made you want to commemorate her with a Major Gifts donation?

Teaching was tremendous for Mary. Because of her 36 years as a working reporter, she felt she could be a better teacher and provide a more in-depth perspective to her students.

NCRF has supported students in many ways over the years, and so now, my support of NCRF means that Mary can continue to support court reporting students into the future.

Headshot of an NCRF Major Gifts donor: a woman in profressional attire poses in front of a studio background

Nancy Hopp

Nancy Hopp, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CMRS
St. Louis, Mo.

As current chair of NCRF, what would you share about the Foundation and why you became a Major Gifts donor?

I’ve always been proud of NCRF’s work, especially the Veterans History Project.  My father was a WWII veteran, and his wartime experiences stayed with him to his deathbed. It is of paramount importance to preserve these first-person legacies.

What I did not know before being NCRF chair was how this project benefited the reporting community. Last year, a few other reporters and I interviewed veterans on Purple Heart Day, and we garnered more than $250,000 in free media coverage. NCRF’s careful stewardship and savvy leveraging of donations inspired me to step up from the Angel level to being a Major Gift donor.

Another of my favorite NCRF programs is the Legal Education Program. NCRF offers a PowerPoint presentation on how to make a record. I’ve presented this program to law school litigation classes, bar associations, and law firms. Not only is it fun to share my “insider” knowledge, but it positions me as a subject-matter expert.

Rest assured, NCRF’s programs are carefully designed to draw positive attention to the reporting profession.  In my mind, that’s a big win-win!

Photo of NCRF Major Gifts donors: A man and a woman in professional attire stand side by side in an office

Christine Phipps and Richard Applebaum

Christine Phipps, RPR, and Richard Applebaum, RMR
West Palm Beach, Fla.

Christine Phipps responded to the questions for herself and Richard Applebaum.

What motivated you to become a Major Gifts Donor? 

I had been so blessed in my career that it was important to me to not just take from it, but to give back. I had a duty and responsibility to take part in ensuring its future for others, so they too can make their dreams come true and provide for their families. The thing is, I set out to give and ended up getting so much more, not only professionally but innumerable life lessons from others. I keep trying to give and do more, and yet I still feel like I am getting more than I am giving. So that’s why I decided to make a Major Gifts donation. I also wanted to make a very clear statement that I support our Foundation.

What value does NCRF hold for you? 

NCRF is the true charity arm of NCRA.  It is my hope that others will step forward and make major gifts to NCRF so that we can broaden the scope of programs we offer, perhaps even provide financial support to our students in lieu of the government funding that gives our industry so many problems due to the disconnect between learning a subject and becoming proficient in a skill.

Photo of an NCRF Major Gifts donor: A smiling woman faces the camera

B.J. Shorak

B.J. Shorak
Vienna, Va.

Why did you decide to donate to NCRF?

NCRF has been a huge part of my life for almost three decades, and it has afforded me so many opportunities and has given me rewards beyond measure. It’s a huge part of who I am. I’ve learned so much and met so many wonderful people along the way, and my life is truly much richer for the experience.

For these and many other reasons, I wanted to show my appreciation though a Major Gifts donation.

In your position as NCRF’s Deputy Executive Director, you have a unique perspective of the court reporting, captioning, and related professions. How do you think that NCRF will help the profession flourish in the future?

NCRF’s role is mandated by its Articles of Incorporation.  Simply put, NCRF exists to support NCRA’s mission and goals through education and research.  Since its creation in 1980, and since it became autonomous in 1992, NCRF’s leadership has always developed its vision and programs to support NCRA.  We develop our programs based on NCRA’s strategic goals, and we will continue to do that.


Supporting NCRF is like an investment in your future.  The Foundation constantly seeks to create programs of significance to the profession. To do so, it needs the support and generosity of donors like the ones interviewed here.

Consider including the NCRF Major Gifts Program as you plan your budget for next year. More information on the many benefits of becoming a Major Gifts donor is available at NCRA.org/NCRF, or contact NCRF’s Deputy Executive Director B. J. Shorak by email at bjshorak@ncra.org or  by phone at 703-584-9026.

NCRA member in local media for A to Z program

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting, TheJCR.com, JCR WeeklyGood Morning Rochester, Rochester, N.Y., aired a piece on Sept. 19 that featured NCRA Director Meredith A. Bonn, RPR, an official court reporter from Webster. The story highlighted what Bonn does as well as emphasized the current need for court reporters and captioners. A second story that also featured Bonn provided insight into what it takes to enter the profession and included information about the A to Z programs she leads in her area.