COPE: Why ethics matter for CART captioners

JCR publications share buttonBy Cecilee Wilson

Through the course of my 39-year career as a professional reporter, as well as my 20 years providing broadcast captioning and CART services for many organizations and television stations, I have developed a strong conviction of the importance of our role in the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community and our responsibility to provide ethical, professional services to our clients.

In March of 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with extensive input from the NCRA, made significant rule changes regarding broadcast captioners. While these rule changes did not directly affect CART providers, the NCRA Board of Directors in November of 2015 approved and adopted a Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct based partly on these rule changes. This code was adopted for both CART and broadcast captioners to set a standard of quality and professionalism in our field.

While there are not currently any interstate or federal requirements for CART providers, some states have adopted standards in order to maintain the quality of services offered beyond basic certification.

As our field has developed and changed, many CART providers and captioners no longer understand the relevance of NCRA in their professional lives.

Many times we hear, “Where was NCRA when…” in conversation or on social media, in cases where the role of the Association would not have been applicable.

What can NCRA do? Influence legislation, build up and promote the profession, and search out new applications for the court reporting profession are a few things that NCRA does on an ongoing basis. In fact, the CART and captioning segments of the profession would not be even close to where they are today without the influence that NCRA has had on federal law and in Deaf and hard-of-hearing groups. That’s why it is more important than ever that we continue to support the policies established by NCRA to maintain a high standard of work across our profession.

In my work, the biggest problem I see first-hand is the provider who misrepresents their level of expertise, leaving the consumer with less-than-adequate accommodations. Judicial court reporters and deposition reporters are generally heavily regulated by individual states. In the “olden days” if a student felt they could not pass the rigorous testing of their state CSR laws or NCRA testing, some would choose to go into CART as a “fall-back” so as to be less regulated and get through school early. Unfortunately, taking the easier path has resulted in a wide variety of skill levels in our profession. Our clients, without the necessary tools and information to adequately judge the providers and services, are the ones who end up suffering for it.

Though the word “accurate” is present in both the FCC rules and the guidelines established by NCRA, there is no set standard for accuracy or untranslate percentages, either for CART or broadcast captioning. In many instances the absence of a legally enforced standard is an asset due to the increased costs and time that would be needed to enforce the standards. But that does not mean that we are unable to hold ourselves and our community to higher expectations.

Deaf groups that I have worked with have expressed a desire for standards for CART providers, even at different skill levels, in an effort to have an established level that would be commensurate with remuneration; to show the clients in the community that “you get what you pay for” when it comes to the services and skills you will receive and the fees associated with hiring a highly skilled professional. In my state it is not uncommon for clients to call a non-]certified CART provider because they would like to save their resources (money) and hire me when it is “really important.” Many consumers are also unaware of the NCRA services locater that lists its certified CART captioners.

The pitfall comes when a provider promotes themselves as highly skilled and charges accordingly, but provides services that are substandard and ineffective. This not only frustrates clients and other providers who may have been better able to offer the necessary services, but it also creates an atmosphere of distrust between clients and providers because of prior bad experiences.

I recall one conference in particular, where I was providing CART for a young person from another state, who was accompanied by his mother. She had been skeptical about hiring a CART provider because she had typically been unable to get high-quality CART services in her home state. She was very impressed that someone would provide that level of service, since she was unable to get that in her locale, regardless of the cost. She and her son would have benefitted from an established standard across our profession so that she was confident in the services she could expect to receive.

In my opinion the most effective way to increase the quality of the CART and captioning profession is to encourage others in our profession to become members of NCRA, and for all of us to sincerely adopt the ethics and professional guidelines in our everyday practice.

The Code of Professional Ethics includes provisions that we determine fees independently, avoid or disclose conflicts of interest or even the appearance of impropriety, preserve confidentiality, and be truthful when representing our qualifications. We are also encouraged to support the relationships in our community by providing pro bono services when the situation calls for them.

We must also diligently keep ourselves educated on current literature and technological advances and developments in order to offer the highest quality services possible. This should also include awareness of changing regulations and standards. As members of NCRA we are also required to maintain the integrity of our profession, abide by the NCRA Constitution & Bylaws, and participate in national, state, and local association activities. These should be the way each of us, as professionals, run our lives.

This aspect of activism in our Association is vital to our effectiveness. If we do not establish and enforce professional standards ourselves, as well as advocate for our concerns, then these standards are open to being set and enforced by outside interests without the necessary representation from our community.

As NCRA members and broadcast and CART captioners, we need to encourage others in our professional community to become members of NCRA and help to enforce the professional standards we have set, and continue to offer a high-quality service to our clients. This will help alleviate the problems of overstated services being offered, undercutting prices of professionals in our field, and educating consumers so they will not be taken advantage of. We need to educate ourselves on the Code of Ethics and Professional Guidelines, hold ourselves to the standards we have established, and support the work of NCRA through membership and activism. We have to change from being active to being activists.

Cecilee Wilson, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, of Kaysville, Utah, is a member of NCRA’s Committee on Professional Ethics.

The court reporter’s easy guide to LLCs, S-Corps and other taxing questions

 

By David Ward

For any court reporter, starting up a firm can end up being more than a full-time job.

In addition to actually recruiting clients and scheduling and handling what hopefully is a steady stream of depositions and transcripts, there’s also the daunting tasks of marketing your business, hiring staff if needed, lining up freelancers willing to step up and take overflow work in a pinch, and in general making sure the checks are coming in and expenses are getting paid.

It’s no wonder many end up putting off the big step of formally incorporating their business for as long as possible.

But any accountant or financial planner worth his or her salt will recommend that decision be made sooner rather than later — and how that’s done can have huge repercussions not only on the reporter’s tax bill, but also how well-positioned the firm in the future for a possible merger or sale in the future.

In general, the consensus seems to be that once a reporter begins generating more than part-time cash flow, they need to start thinking about incorporating — and that decision usually comes down to a choice between either an S-Corporation or an LLC (Limited Liability Corporation).

Phil Liberatore, a certified public accountant based in La Mirada, Calif., who has worked with hundreds of court reporters during the past 30 years, said: “Generally I recommend the S-Corp because it’s a lot cleaner — and even if they have an LLC, I get them taxed as an S-Corp because it’s more favorable for tax purposes.” Liberatore says court reporters making less than $75,000 annually can probably still comfortably operate as an independent contractor and pay their taxes under Schedule C as a sole proprietorship.  “Definitely over $75,000 I would strongly encourage an S-Corp. The IRS is targeting Schedule C filers and the court reporters that are independent contractors are more exposed to an audit than a W-2 court reporter working for a county, state or federal government. That audit exposure is greatly reduced when you incorporate,” Liberatore said. Rhonda Jensen, RDR, CRR, CMRS, founder and president of Jensen Litigation Solutions in Chicago, Ill., said that’s the exactly the advice she got when she first started her business several decades ago. “I’m the sole owner, and right from the get go my accountant suggested I set up as an S-Corp,” she explained. “The benefit is that the company pays the owner’s FICA and Medicare tax and, as an LLC, you must pay Medicare tax on all of your profit.” Jensen’s firm now has 20 employees in addition to the independent contractors who work with her companies as well as others.  “We do a lot through the company,” she explained. “We have 401Ks; it’s a “Safe Harbo”, which is beneficial for the owner of the company. But we also do a 401K match for our employees, matching up to 4 percent of their contributions.”

Lori Luck, an accountant based in Portland (ore. Or Me.), has worked with a number of different small businesses, including court reporting firms, and said: “Most service businesses are pretty similar with respect to setting up a business; however, since it seems that court reporting or captioning may be less risky from a standpoint of malpractice, the legal liability issues may not be as high of a motivator for incorporating.”

Luck, who works at CLS Financial Advisors, adds that even freelance court reporters could benefit from incorporating, though she tends to recommend an LLC for those individuals.

“If they are working alone as an independent contractor, they get some liability protection as an LLC by asking their attorney to prepare this paperwork for them, but they still file a Schedule C on their own individual tax return to report their business income,” she says. “This is much more straightforward than an S Corporation.  Also, they can have their own retirement plan for only themselves and choose an IRA, SEP/IRA or 401k depending on how much they want to contribute.  This is very flexible if you don’t have any employees, and you would pay income taxes via quarterly estimated tax payments.”

Matthew Alley, who along with his wife, Tiffany, co-founded Atlanta-based Tiffany Alley Global Reporting and Video, has experience with both LLCs and S-Corps and suggests from his experience, most court reporting firms of any size will tend to do better as S-Corps.

“We were always structured as an S-Corp in order to enjoy the benefits of pass-through income,” explains Alley, who served as CFO of the firm before it was sold to Veritext in 2015. “We have several LLCs also, perhaps a dozen, in the real-estate markets, but I prefer the S-Corp for the type of high-cash-flow business that court-reporting firms represent.”

There are other factors that also need to be considered, Jensen says, adding her accountant pointed out that if there’s real estate involved, or if there’s foreign ownership, then an LLC is probably the best option.

Incorporating a small business, especially a court reporting firm, is generally done for tax and possible liability issues, but it can also with it other advantages, including the ability to better organize what can be a complex flow of receipts and payments.

Denise Phipps Hinxman, CRR, CRC, currently runs Reno, NV-based Captions Unlimited in Reno, Nev., and said: “I was advised over 20 years ago — way before I had a firm and was an independent freelancer — to set myself up as an S-Corporation.  I followed my accountant’s advice and have been very happy with my decision.”

Hinxman notes that prior to becoming an S-Corporation, she often struggled with paying quarterly IRS payments, adding, “I don’t know about other small businesses, but I have encouraged other top-wage earners to go the route of an S-Corporation and they have seen a difference on April 15 as well.”

Hinxman says incorporating a business should only be the beginning of a regular relationship between a firm owner and their accountant. “Many people aren’t aware of some of the laws that I’ve been able to take advantage of because I use a CPA who is a very knowledgeable tax accountant,” she explains. “I was able to pay my children a salary up to X amount of dollars per year for work they did for me in my firm.  Everyone should ask their accountant these questions because there are ways to pay your children through your company.”

Hinxman adds her accountant also alerted her to the tax advantages when she purchased a new SUV for business-related travel.

When it comes to state taxes, the laws can vary, making it important for firm owners with clients in multiple states to understand the tax implications and complexities of each place they work in, which once drives home the importance of finding the right accountant for your business.

But an accountant can only do so much, and Liberatore says the mistake he sees most from court reporters isn’t so much whether or not they’ve incorporated, but rather a lack of financial planning.

“A common mistake — among new court reporters especially — is they don’t set aside money for taxes,” he explains. “And once they get behind for one year, they’re playing catch-up. You don’t know how many court reporting clients we’ve had that have come in owing multiple years of taxes, and they end up on a merry-go-round they can’t get off.”

Liberatore notes one of the first court reporting clients he ever worked with who owed the IRS more than $50,000.  “She was convinced she was going to be working for the IRS for the rest of her life. She was doing her own taxes and I went back and amended three years of her tax returns and reduced her tax debt in half — and within five years she was getting refunds back. So it’s very important not just how you’re doing your tax planning and your tax preparation, but also to make sure you set aside money for taxes.”

Luck agrees, adding, “Many people are used to a W-2 where their taxes are withheld from their paychecks and they don’t have to think about it very much. Sometimes people may borrow money to help get up and running, and when they finally make enough money to pay some or all of the loan back, they don’t realize that just like the cash from the loan isn’t taxable income, repaying the loan is money that can’t be deducted from their taxable income. Consequently, it is confusing to many when they have to pay taxes when they might not have much cash.”

As daunting as all that can be, especially when they’re also focused on running their day-to-day business, firm owners and reporters do need to work regularly with their accountant and financial advisor to plan for their long-term future.

That could involve the eventual sale or merger of their business, but at the very least should include some pathway to a comfortable retirement.

Alley say he and his wife, Tiffany, began preparing their firm for sale six years before it actually occurred, adding that included not only making sure the books were in order and taxes up to date, but also that an experienced management team was in place to help the new owners.

Even if you plan on keeping your business for your entire career, Luck stresses that every small business owner needs a financial plan for the long term.

“Planning for a retirement plan of some sort, figuring out how much to save both for income tax savings provided by a retirement contribution and for the future before all the money is spent –and developing lifelong good saving habits — will greatly benefit a new business owner,” she said.

One way to do that is to meet with your accountant every autumn, well before the beginning of tax season, to work on year-end planning.

“Meet in October or November and predict how much money you will make before the end of the year,” Luck says. “Once you see that number, you can plan about how much income tax you might owe, and perhaps accelerate paying some expenses you would normally be paying in early January so you get an earlier tax deduction. You can also look at your retirement plan to figure out how much tax savings a retirement contribution would provide and evaluate the various income tax consequences of the contributions.”

David Ward is a journalist in Carrboro, N.C. Comments on this article can be sent tojcrfeedback@ncra.org.

 

 

 

GOING GLOBAL: Preparing for the Intersteno contests

By John Wissenbach

See how you’d fare in an Intersteno competition by going to intersteno.org/competition-texts-2015/ and trying your hand at the actual dictation from last year’s speech capturing (speed) and realtime contests. You’ll notice the dictation has a parliamentary flavor to it, which is perhaps not surprising given the number of Intersteno members who work in the parliaments of the world.

If you want to compete, EuroparlTV is a great source of dictation practice. There you will be able to access video from the various committee meetings of the European Parliament. Many of the speeches are very interesting, on leading issues of the day, and offer a great source of material for training the brain to deal with a wide variety of accents and names.

Here is some of the vocabulary you may encounter:

abstentions = STWEPBGSZ

accession = KREFGS

asylum = SKWHR-PL

Baltic = PWHR-LGT

Brussels = PWRUFLS

chargé d’affaires = CH-FRD

climate change = KHR-LGT

Council of Europe = KWURP

European Commission = KWR-RPGS

European Council = KPWRUFRL

European Parliament = KWRAERPLT

European Union = KPWRURPB

Europol = KWHRAOURP

GMOs = TKPWO*PLS

harmonization = HAORGS

Juncker = *RPBG

Madam Chair = KPWHR-FPD

Madam Chairman = KPWHR-FPLD

member states = PHRERBTS

migrants = PWH-RNTS

parliamentary = PLAERPLT

plenary = PHRERPB

private sector = PRAOIFBG

public sector = PRUFBG

radicalization = WHRAFGS

rapporteur = WRAORPT

Roma = WRAO*M

Schengen = SWH-PBG

shadow rapporteur = SHAORPT

Strasbourg = STROUG

subsidiarity = STKART

trialogue = TWHROG

visas = TPWAOESZ

 

John Wissenbach,, RDR, CRR, CRC, is a freelance reporter in San Francisco, Calif. He has competed in several Intersteno Contests. He can be reached at john@wissenbach.com.

More information:

 

 

 

MEMBER PROFILE: Kristin Humphrey

Kristin Humphrey at the Orange Bowl

Kristin Humphrey at the Orange Bowl

Currently resides in: Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Employment type: Sports reporter

Member since: 1994

Graduated from: Triton College, River Grove, Ill.

Theory: Wiley

What are your favorite briefs?

Sports words that I hear every single day: defense (TKAO-EF), offense (A*UF), ESPN (SP-EPB), NASCAR (TPHA-SBG), PGA (PA-G) … too many to list.

Why did you decide to enter this profession, and how did you learn about the career?

I started at a large freelance firm in Chicago (McCorkle), who sent me in 2001 to do transcripts of press conferences at the John Deere Classic in Moline, Ill. Eventually my current company took over the John Deere Classic job, so I investigated that company to whom we’d lost that client. Since ASAP Sports was a non-competing company with my litigation firm, McCorkle had no problem with my working for both companies. After five years I had fallen in love with my sports job and took it on full time.

What has been your best work experience so far in your career?

I’m a golf nut, so working events on-site at the Masters, the British Open, the U.S. Open Championship, and the Ryder Cup for the first time were all larger-than-life dreams come true.

 What was your biggest hurdle to overcome and how did you do so?

Learning how to perform my job in a media center. Photographers are constantly moving around me with clicking shutters, therefore I wear noise-canceling headphones and get my audio through the mult box (same place the TV cameras plug in). This required cables and equipment not available on the Stenograph website.

What do you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?

A bench trial that I reported in 2012 in Grand Rapids, Mich. I flew in from Florida whenever the judge held court, typically two days in a row, every other week, for about 12 months. I would regularly have 250-300 pages of immediate copy transcript, due to the attorneys by 9 p.m. the same evening, and the judge usually kept us until 4:30 or 5 p.m.. I was never late with a transcript.

Have you had challenges to overcome in your profession?

Learning sports — all of them — and the jargon specific to each.

Is there something else you would like to share?

I met my husband working the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona (Speedway), and we got married 10 months later. Our first date was the day after my best friend, Kim, had passed away after losing her battle with breast cancer. Besides my husband, my loves are golf, music (mostly classical), and my Chihuahua, Felix.

CLVS: (L)earning your ABCs

By Robin Cassidy-Duran

After 25 years as a court reporter, I decided to branch out into the video world. Prior to January 2014 my video production experience consisted of borrowing a friend’s camera twice — maybe three times — over the last 30 years as my kids were growing up just to catch those special moments.

In high school, I had enjoyed photography class immensely, but that was long before video cameras became a household item. Still subjects were fairly easy to capture, and we learned the process of developing prints in the darkroom.

Ten years ago, I became a partner in a court reporting firm, and the demands on my time made it more difficult to remain a reporter in the field, produce transcripts, and manage an office. A few years ago, I made the decision to focus on the office, using my reporting skills perhaps once a week. Of course, as my time spent on my machine dwindled, it became more challenging to keep my writing skills up.

As a court reporter, I had observed many videographers over the years, and I sometimes envied their job as I struggled to get every word down on my machine. Although some videographers appeared more attentive than others, there were the few that sat in the back of the room reading emails, playing solitaire, or catching a few winks (or so I thought).

Granted, my knowledge of F stops and depth of field was a little rusty when I decided to pursue a career in legal videography, but everyone assured me that it was so easy. “I mean, really, how difficult could it be?” they said. “You can borrow my home video camera and try it out. Don’t worry about those lapel mics, lighting, or backdrops — that’s overkill.”

I decided that if I was going to do it, I wanted to do it right. I wanted to be taken seriously when I walked into the deposition. I wanted to know what I was doing — or at least have that appearance — so I started looking at the legal video certification process and earning the alphabet letters — CLVS, CDVS, etc.

Since I was already a member of NCRA, I decided to begin with their Certified Legal Video Specialist program. It consists of a two-day seminar followed by a Written Knowledge Test and a hands-on Production Exam. At the same time I signed up for the seminar in Atlanta, I noticed that they were offering the written test the week following the seminar. I thought, “How convenient! I can take that knowledge I’ve gained the weekend before and pass the written portion lickety-split.”

And then I arrived in Atlanta. I was handed the CLVS Guide to Video Depositions. And I opened the book and read and read and read and began to think, “What have I gotten myself into? This is going to be so embarrassing. I’m never going to be able to cram all of this knowledge into my pea-sized brain in three days in time for the written exam. What data can I purge so that I can implant this information in my head? Everyone has told me how easy this is going to be, but it’s not!”

I am not a natural born test taker. I’m sure you’ve all met a reporter who sailed through the test and exclaimed, “Wasn’t that a great test?” I exceeded the average of three tries to pass the RPR. As Benjamin Franklin said, “I didn’t fail the test; I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.”

I have to say that the instructors were fantastic, and they were able to teach a novice like myself what I should be doing out in the field. Taking that training with the fact that I studied like I haven’t in years and, miracle of miracles, I passed the written test three days later.

Fast forward one year: I attended NCRA’s TechCon 2015 in Denver, to attempt to pass the Production Exam. This consists of setting up a mock video deposition in a room of practicing videographers filming you while you are attempting to film them. I was informed ahead of time by well-meaning CLVSs that there were no tricks to this test. Take a deep breath. I’ve been doing this for a year. Right?

Well, as a reporter we all remember the famous words, “Ready? Begin.” What I should have replied was, “Nope. Stop everything.”

With heart pounding and lead-filled legs, I entered the test room. I proceeded toward the equipment to run through the various sound and camera tests before my deposition participants entered the room. I succeeded in turning the mixer off (no, it is supposed to be on) and back on and set the camera to my satisfaction.

Then the participants for the mock deposition entered the room (“Oh, dear. That can’t be him. I know that person. Why is he here? Why is he smiling?”) and the real fun began. After struggling to get refocused on what I was there to accomplish, I think I gave the proper admonitions to the parties. I say think of course because it is all pretty much a blur. What I do remember next is, “Is everyone ready? One moment please.” And I turned the power to the camera off.

Seriously. I turned the camera off. How much worse could this get?

Breathe. The power to the camera was restored, and we moved forward. The deposition began and I couldn’t wait for it to end. But it got worse – really.

I needed to zoom in on an exhibit and back out again. Normally this is not a difficult task but my arms felt like sandbags. My mind was saying I could do it, but my hands were not cooperating. I did some facsimile of zooming. All I could think of was, “Please beam me up, Scotty. Please!”

Well, it eventually ended. I passed. It wasn’t a pretty pass, but I’ll take it.

CSR, RPR, RMR, CRR, CRI, CLVS, CRC, etc. — in our reporting world, all of these letters demonstrate a level of competency. But they are more than that. These individuals who earn these letters are striving to improve and perfect their skills, stepping outside of their comfort zone and making changes in their lives that can lead to personal and professional growth.

Enjoying our comfort zone, of course, is fine unless we get so complacent that we hold ourselves back instead of challenging ourselves to improve and try new things.

I’d like to encourage you to continue striving to improve and perfect your skills even when it might seem or be difficult. Step outside of your comfort zone and make changes in your life that can lead to personal and professional growth. I’m sure glad I did.

Robin Cassidy-Duran, RPR, CLVS, is a freelancer and firm owner in Eugene, Ore.

NCRA MEMBER PROFILE: Ingrid M. Hughes, RPR, CRR, CRC

Ingrid HughesLocated: Harrisburg, Pa.

Employment type: CART/Captioning

Member since: 1990

Graduated from: Central Pennsylvania Business School

Theory: Roberts Walsh Gonzalez

What are your favorite briefs or tips?

My favorite tips are, 1. Never stop learning. 2. Embrace the importance of entering word parts into your dictionary so that no matter what subject matter is thrown your way, your realtime product will be beautiful because you’ll have the ability to effortlessly create words that aren’t currently in your dictionary.

Why did you decide to enter this profession and how did you learn about the career?

I’ve always loved doing things that seemed foreign to other people. I was the Gregg shorthand speed champion in my junior year of high school, so my shorthand teacher recommended that I not miss the court reporting presentation on career day. I still remember being intrigued and completely captivated by the presentation on that day way back in 1987. I sat in the front row directly in front of the student reporter and the college representative, Gail Pierce, as they gave the demo and presentation. I was hooked as soon as the student reporter stenotyped my name and handed me that slip of steno paper. My English teacher, Mrs. Murray, created a workplace shadow program and arranged for me to shadow Tiva Wood, further solidifying the decision that court reporting was definitely for me. Tiva became my mentor that day, and she hasn’t been able to get rid of me ever since.

What has been your best work experience so far in your career?

My best work experience was in the 1990s when I did my first on-site CART captioning job for the Self-Help for the Hard of Hearing, now called Hearing Loss Association of America. During a break, one of the audience members walked up to me, touched me on my arm, and began to thank me for my service and complimented me on what a phenomenal job I was doing. She even taught me a few ASL signs. She will never know the impact her encouragement had on me that night and on my career from that moment forward. She made me realize the importance of what I do for a living. Tucked away inside of a control room or even from my home office, it’s easy to forget that there are many people who are literally hanging on to my every captioned word. On days when I’m overworked or mentally and physically exhausted, I recall that sweet lady and remind myself that it’s not about me and that I have to do my absolute best because some important people are relying on me.

What was your biggest hurdle to overcome and how did you do so?

The biggest hurdle was when I was an official. Whenever I was asked to read back testimony, I thought I was going to pass out. I was extremely shy, so I never wanted to be heard nor seen. I overcame the hurdle by practicing readbacks with my colleagues in the office. The more I did it, the more comfortable I became doing it.

What surprised you about your career?

What surprised me about my career was how many avenues this career path can lead one to take. We can be an official reporter, freelance reporter, CART captioner, and broadcast captioner. We can take part in Intersteno, take on-site Guantánamo Bay hearings, and the list goes on and on. Even with being a CART captioner, I can choose from several different venues and types of captioning. We have on-site sports CART captioning, stadium captioning, relay captioning, Internet captioning, and so much more. We can decide to specialize in only one part of this profession or we can choose to specialize in multiple types of reporting/captioning. This was surprising to me because when I first started, I had a myopic view of the profession and focused solely on being an official. I had no idea how wide open this profession could be until several years later.

Have you had challenges to overcome in your profession?

I’ve had to overcome the challenge of unhealthiness. This profession requires quite a bit of sitting for prolonged periods of time. The atypical hours plus working from home led to a significant weight gain and an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle, which caused my doctor to issue a health warning. A promise I made to my dying dad forced me to reclaim my health through proper nutrition and making time for exercise, and it prompted me to even pay it forward by helping others do the same.

Do you have a favorite gadget or tool?

My favorite gadget is called a Page Up. It holds up my schedule or rosters so that I can read them while on air. My favorite tool is a foam roller. It works out the kinks in my arms, neck, shoulders, and legs that tend to form when writing for extended periods of time.