Members give back: Firm owner builds trust with displaced children through charity project

Lori S. Warren, RPR, started a charity project called My Guardian Angel in 2015, the same year she founded her firm, Alabama Court Reporting, Inc. When she started her firm, she knew that she wanted to give back to the community. “While there are many organizations you can give to monetarily, I wanted a project that would bring people together,” Warren says. “I believe that in order to have change, you have to create it.”

The JCR Weekly contacted Warren to hear more about My Guardian Angel.

© U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Randall Moose

What inspired you to get involved in this charity?

Before starting My Guardian Angel, I attended a class on forming 501c(3)s. I left that seminar with a new appreciation for the time that would be involved to make a 501c(3) successful. However, it was going to require way more time than I had to give since I had also just started a new firm.

I read somewhere online about an organization in California that donates duffel bags to foster children for them to use when they are transitioning from home to home. While the idea was truly a niche charity, it was meeting a need that many did not know existed. I was intrigued.

At the same time, the events of Ferguson, Mo., were going on. My heart was heavy for kids who grow up in an environment where police officers are feared instead of being looked at as a protector. When I was growing up, we were taught to run towards the police (safety), not away from them. I surmised that in order for that to change, kids needed a reason to perceive law enforcement differently.

After melding these ideas together, My Guardian Angel was formed. My Guardian Angel gives backpacks to law enforcement agencies to give to children in unfortunate situations, thereby creating a bridge, planting a positive seed. Those circumstances may range from being removed from their home in a domestic situation or a situation where the caregiver or parent is arrested for drugs. These children, many times, do not have suitcases of their own, and their personal belongings have to be put in a trash bag. These officers are sometimes called “first responders.” They are on the front lines. These officers wait with the child until someone from the Department of Human Resources shows up.

In other instances, an officer may need to gather a child’s belongings from a car accident scene, and they have nothing to put the child’s things in other than a trash bag. Our backpacks (along with a toothbrush and toothpaste) are given to law enforcement agencies to keep in the trunks of their cars for just such occasions.

While a simple backpack with an angel’s wings and the words “My Guardian Angel” certainly can’t remediate the child’s problems, it gives the officer an opportunity to create a positive memory. They have something tangible to give the child, and it gives the agent an opportunity to share with the child that they are there to help. The child may never know who Alabama Court Reporting, Inc., is nor the officer that they encountered who gave them the backpack, but our prayer is that it will help that child, if only for that one moment in time, see that officer as their guardian angel. If we achieve that, then we have been successful.

Have you received any comments back about your project?

Yes! We have had people call and want to help us buy backpacks! In giving to different agencies across the state of Alabama, we have had people call from those communities wanting to help. Giving inspires someone else to give, and it is the coolest thing to see. In other instances, we have delivered backpacks to agencies only to have them ask: “How much is this going to cost us?” And other times we have had them ask: “Why are you doing this?” This gives us an awesome opportunity to explain our desire to change the perception of their community of law enforcement.

What would you tell other people about giving back?

Figure out what inspires you and give to that. Start small. Just because you can’t matter to many doesn’t mean you can’t matter to one. Let your life start being one big random act of kindness. Giving back doesn’t always mean giving monetarily. Do what you can, where you are, and build on that. We can change the world we live in; it just has to start with us!

Paying it forward

Stack of hands as if doing a team cheerBy Allison Kimmel

Do you remember the day you learned that you passed your RPR certification exam? I distinctly remember when I found out — Christmas Eve. I had taken the test in November of 1989. Every day I would come home from work and ask my husband, Bob, if I had gotten the results. Each time the answer was no. Unbeknownst to me, he had placed the results — unopened — in a wrapped box under the Christmas tree. It could have ended very badly had I not received positive news. He is a very blessed man.

Passing the RPR meant I passed muster and might be able to succeed in court reporting after all. Those credentials represented a lot to me then, and they still do to this day. The other professionals in my national association had given me their imprimatur, and I gleefully joined their ranks as a professional registered member.

Several years have passed since those early days, and I know that I would not be where I am today without the help of mentors and reporters sharing their experiences along the way. Those mentors and reporters began giving advice and encouragement from day one, and it has not stopped. I am lucky to have been surrounded by such a fantastic group of dedicated professionals.

We all have anecdotes of the valuable knowledge that others have passed along to us. To illustrate one such story and the long-term impact of a simple act, when I was a newly graduated reporter in 1987, Jean Long, RPR, graciously shared with me a medical term. She had spent some time looking for the proper spelling at one point in her career; the term was bruit. It is pronounced BREW-EE. She walked me over to the dictionary to point it out. I never forgot her short one-minute lesson.

A couple of years later, at a different court reporting agency, another reporter was struggling to find that exact word. I knew it immediately — not from school days, but from Jean’s lesson. It was time to pay it forward, and I proudly did.

After gaining some real-life experience and much-needed confidence, I came to the realization that it was not enough to be a contented dues-paying member in my professional associations. I wanted to do more. I had observed others volunteering and felt that I could offer perhaps a slightly different approach. It was time — time to repay all those gifts of knowledge and information that were so readily shared with me. I had received so many over the years.

I started out small. Volunteering was out of my comfort zone, and I truly wanted to be brave and emulate some of the best professionals in our business. The first time I volunteered for my state association was in 2002. We had a need to represent the court reporting profession at the All-Ohio High School Counselors Conference in Columbus. With another reporter, Lori Jay, RPR, CMRS, we were responsible for promoting the court reporting and captioning career choices to the school counselors who approached our table of brochures and equipment. Donna Karoscik, RDR, CRR, CRC, provided a demonstration of realtime to the group by captioning the keynote speaker. We were enthusiastic, and we worked hard that day to advocate for our profession.

After that experience, I began helping my state association with administering the national certification exams, first as someone to assist and then as a chief examiner for the CRR tests. I tried to be the voice of calm for test candidates, and I enjoyed seeing the test candidates succeed. I also began assisting my state association at the Ohio Judicial Conference’s Court Technology Conference. With many vendors present touting their “technology,” it was an eye-opening experience. I now know just how crucial it is for court reporting associations to be represented at such events — and displaying the best we have to offer in court reporting and realtime technology. My state association members attend this event year after year without fail.

Fast forward a few years. Our state association needed members willing to serve on the board. After some persuasive discussion by Sue Terry, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, and a multitude of excuses on my end, I agreed to serve on the Board of Directors of the Ohio Court Reporters Association (OCRA). I came in as vice president and moved my way up the ladder. It was at that point that I began to understand the intricacies of leading, the minefields — some of which cannot be avoided — and the heavy lifting that volunteering involved. My prior volunteer experiences were rewarding but nowhere near as challenging. The successes were amazing; the failures devastating.

I was working as an official court reporter in state court during this time. My court administration seemed enamored with digital recording technology and eagerly proclaimed the cost savings to be realized to any who would listen. It appeared to be an uphill and frustrating battle.

Through the efforts of the late Jerry Kelley and other volunteers across the country, I quietly began to amass a database of current electronic and digital recording failures. It was an informal, unsanctioned effort, but the group saw a need. The database effort seemed a tad futile at times, but I can attest that the information gathered was useful at a key moment during my tenure on the OCRA board, particularly when the Cleveland Plain Dealer came calling for commentary on an article regarding the court reporter versus electronic and digital recording debate. That volunteer effort provided relevant, documented cases to cite, not just hearsay or conjecture. It was a small victory.

Coincidentally, it was around this point that Stephen Zinone, RPR, reached out to me about serving on the NCRA Cost Comparison Task Force. Our task was to do a complete analysis of the cost of digital recording technology versus a court reporter — using best practices for each. To say this was right up my alley is an understatement. Steve was a thoughtful, smart leader who asked for input from all of us. The entire group worked hard to make the Task Force’s white paper bulletproof. We accomplished our goal, though it took many emails, conference calls, an in-person meeting in Nashville, and a couple of years of persistence. To this day, when OCRA members attend the Ohio Judicial Conference’s Court Technology Conference, we have the white paper there to discuss with attendees.

That first experience serving as a task force volunteer at the national level gave me a huge sense of fulfillment. I was proud of our work, and I was hooked. I knew I could make a difference — if not for myself, perhaps for others.

Working with students as an adjunct faculty member for Clark State Community College is something I enjoy immensely, so signing up to work on the Item Writing Committee seemed a natural fit. Brenda Fauber, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CPE, served as the chairperson of the committee. The group met in the Washington, D.C., area. We spent time training with a professional consultant, and we discussed at length what is involved in writing proper written knowledge test questions using approved authoritative sources. (Yes, there is a question involving bruit — in case you were wondering. I’m paying it forward.) I continue to serve on the committee; along the way, I have begun serving on the Skills Test Writing Committee.

What an education I have received! I have gained a deeper appreciation of our national certification tests and the incredible vision of those who saw the necessity of certification. I have learned why, as a professional association, we must continually strive to ensure that the certifications are valid and fair measures of both the entry-level reporter and the seasoned reporter. Those who pass the NCRA certification tests can be confident that they, too, pass muster and have indeed earned a worthwhile achievement.

Comedian Lily Tomlin once stated, “I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.” This applies to each one of us. Let me ask: Who is better than those of us who are in the trenches to represent and understand the issues we, as a profession, face? Who is going to do the heavy lifting and advocating for our profession if we are not willing to step up and do it for ourselves?

Together, we can make a difference. The value of volunteer work benefits your professional associations and you. I could enumerate a variety of reasons to volunteer, but you know many of them already. Think about this: You make time for what matters to you. My profession matters to me. I sincerely hope it matters to you. We need you. We need more than your dues. We need your participation. We need your voice. We need your input and ideas. We need you at all levels, whether it is state or national. I urge you to be brave. Volunteer.

Why do I volunteer?

I volunteer to give back to a profession that I love. I volunteer to pay it forward and to thank those along the way who reached out a helping hand, gave me a word of advice, offered reassurance, and sometimes provided a swift kick in the rear or a shoulder to cry on. Volunteering is my way of saying thanks for making sure I passed muster, to thank those who came before me and those who will continue long after me. Thank you for being there.

 

Allison A. Kimmel, RDR, CRR, CRC, works as a reporter in the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio, and as an adjunct faculty member for the court reporting and captioning program at Clark State Community College.

NCRA member gives back and gets back

dax (2)

Left to right: Tunch Ilkin, J. Dax Parise (holding award), and Craig Wolfley

Earlier this month, NCRA member J. Dax Parise, CLVS, was honored with the Locker Room Leadership Award from Light of Life Rescue Mission, a nonprofit homeless shelter based in Pittsburgh, Pa. Parise was recognized for his commitment to providing promotional video services at events and activities benefiting individuals and families experiencing housing crises. He was presented the award by former NFL Pittsburgh Steelers players Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley. Parise is the president of Veritas Legal Services in Pittsburgh, which has been in existence for 15 years and offers a wide range of court reporting, legal videography and videoconferencing services.

The JCR Weekly reached out to him to learn more about his volunteer work, what motivates him, and why he does what he does.

How did you become involved in Light of Life Rescue Mission?

A close friend approached me with a problem: Light of Life Rescue Mission had served as a beacon of hope for the homeless, the hungry, and those struggling with addictions since 1952, but no one was aware of the great work of this Pittsburgh-based nonprofit. I toured the mission’s facilities, and learned more about its programs and its people. I knew I had to find a way to help spread the stories of both the successes and challenges that those involved with Light of Life experience on a daily basis. Video work is my wheelhouse; it was a logical choice for me. I could visually share these inspirational stories.

How long have you been working with the group?

We’ve been volunteering for Light of Life since 2009.

What types of promo videos do you supply them with?

To raise awareness about a cause, you often need to demonstrate the problem. However, that doesn’t mean awareness videos need to be sad to make a point. Our videos tend to introduce viewers to the problem and then ask them to be a part of the solution. We share stories of those who have completed recovery programs. We also highlight ways to give back and personal tales of volunteers and community members. These videos bridge an emotional gap and highlight the life-changing effects of Light of Life in both an informative and inspirational way.

What is the most rewarding return for you from volunteering?

Light of Life is based in Pittsburgh, where I live and work. My work with them gives me the chance to make a direct impact on my community, to be a part of something bigger than myself, and to use my particular skills for a greater good.  

Did you know you were going to receive the Leadership Award?

My role is typically much more behind-the-scenes, so I was surprised to find out Light of Life planned to honor me! They reached out about a month ago and presented me with the award on May 12 as a part of an awareness event to promote their Memorial Day weekend walk to end homelessness.

What does it mean to have received the award?

While I certainly do not do what I do for recognition, being recognized by such an inspirational organization truly was an extraordinary moment. I was touched and so pleased I can use my passion to celebrate Light of Life’s work.

What would you tell others about why volunteering is important?

Volunteering for Light of Life has allowed me the opportunity to meet and work with phenomenal people, from diverse backgrounds, striving toward a common goal. These projects have helped me to better understand the community where I live and given me perspective on how the world really is. I’ve learned to employ gratitude in my daily life, and my volunteering shows my two sons just how critical it is that we help those less fortunate than us. For young people, volunteering is an excellent way to network, learn how to be a leader as well as a part of a team, and to build a resume.

Do you volunteer for other organizations?

Yes, we donate to other organizations regularly, but Light of Life has become so much more than a charity to Veritas Legal Services. They have become a part of our family.

NCRA Leadership Library open to assist state leaders

NCRA’s Leadership Library provides state association leaders immediate access to an array of resources aimed to help them to excel in their governing roles.

“Although NCRA has always provided resources to its state leaders, these materials were never housed in one accessible location. With the recent launch of NCRA’s new series of monthly leadership training webinars, it made sense to create the library so members could access information and resources whenever they wanted,” said Matthew R. Barusch, NCRA’s Manager, State Government Relations.

In addition to the webinars, the library houses other resources vital to running an effective state association, including information on leadership policies and best practices. There are also templates for executive committee job descriptions and charges from the role of president down to secretary.

NCRA recognized that one of the hurdles state associations face is recruiting and training board members, and knew that gap needed to be bridged, according to Kristi Johnson, a deposition reporter from Rancho St. Margarita, Calif., who serves on the Association’s National Committee for State Associations (NCSA).

“Bringing in new board members and training them to be an effective member of the board has always been a difficult task. With our association leaders all being volunteers, holding down a full-time job and/or running their own business, trying to fulfill their association commitments is a juggling act,” said Johnson.

“Finding the time to train incoming board members so they are effective in their new positions can sometimes slip through the cracks. With the help of NCRA’s State Government Relations team, NCSA has created a leadership library, which is an incredible tool for state associations to utilize in their endeavor to train and create effective board members and officers,” she added.

According to Barusch, the Government Relations team will update the library on a monthly basis, adding the latest in leadership webinars and other documents including presentations, information that will help new leaders grow into their roles, and educational resources state leaders can use when they need information regarding handling association business or promoting and protecting the profession. The effort is a direct response by NCRA to provide an increase in assistance to state leaders.

“We also welcome suggestions for additional resources from our members and encourage them to share with us ideas for topics to address and other such items,” he noted

“The NCSA Leadership Webinar series has been well received by state leaders. Our monthly attendance has been great, but we court reporters have busy schedules. With the establishment of the Leadership Library, those leaders who are unable to attend our webinars when they are presented do not miss out on the information.  They can catch up on their own time,” said Mary P. Bader, RPR, an official court reporter from Medford, Wis., and chair of NCRA’s National Committee for State Associations.

“My hope is that our webinar series is just the beginning of the information we will find in the Leadership Library. NCRA is our go-to site for all things court reporting and having a handy repository with useful information for state leaders just makes our lives easier,” she noted.

 

 

 

Volunteers raise more than $35,000 during NCRF’s annual fundraising phone-a-thon

NCRF phone-a-thon volunteers

Left to right: Laurie Shingle, Jane Fitzgerald, Bonni Shuttleworth, and Joan McQuinn

Six court reporters from across the country raised more than $35,000 during NCRF’s annual fundraising phone-a-thon between April 27 and May 6. The volunteers made thousands of calls and generated donations from $10 to $995 over the course of two weeks.

The annual phone-a-thon supports NCRF’s programs, including:

  • the Oral Histories Program, which raises public awareness about the court reporting profession by capturing and transcribing the poignant oral histories of American wartime veterans, Holocaust survivors, and attorneys who have provided pro bono services;
  • the Student Initiatives Program, which provides four scholarships to high-achieving students each year and free student memberships to NCRA for those students who transcribe two histories from the Oral Histories Program;
  • the New Professional Reporter Grant, awarded annually to a stand-out emerging court reporter in his or her first year out of school; and
  • the Corrinne Clark Professionalism Institute, which educates students and new reporters about professionalism, branding, and building a successful career.
Another NCRF phone-a-thon volunteer

Kathy Cortopassi

“It is my absolute pleasure to be able to give back to NCRF knowing that this is one way for me to pay it forward and help those who are pursuing the path to court reporting,” said Michael Hensley, RPR, a freelance first-year reporter from Evanston, Ill., who contributed to this year’s phone-a-thon. “During my time as a court reporting student, it was such a blessing to receive help with costs of schooling to ease the burden of financial stress. I’m grateful that NCRF provides this opportunity, and I highly encourage every working reporter to pitch in to keep the dream alive for those wishing to join our ranks.”

Volunteers for this year’s effort included Kathy Cortopassi, RMR, CRR, CRC, Dyer, Ind.; NCRF Trustee Jane Fitzgerald, RMR, Des Moines, Iowa; NCRF Trustee Joan McQuinn, RPR, CMRS, Rockford, Ill.; former NCRF Trustee Laurie Shingle, RPR, CMRS, Pleasant View, Utah; Bonni Shuttleworth, CRI, CPE, Crestwood, Ill.; and NCRA President-elect Tiva Wood, RDR, CMRS, Mechanicsburg, Pa.

“Volunteering to help raise awareness and support for the Foundation and its many generous programs is an exciting honor,” said Wood. “Making the calls is a wonderful opportunity to talk with members, learn more about them, and ensure that they know how important their donations are and how appreciative the Foundation is of their willingness to give. I would urge anyone who wants to experience an opportunity to reach out to their fellow members and to experience the meaningfulness of volunteering to support a profession they are passionate about to consider helping with future NCRF fundraising activities.”

“NCRF launched its annual phone-a-thon in the mid-1990s and has relied on using member volunteers to make the calls rather than an outside company because of the high success rate of the peer-to-peer outreach,” said B.J. Shorak, NCRF Deputy Executive Director.

“I have participated in the phone-a-thon on several occasions,” said Fitzgerald. “I volunteer because I feel it is important to support your profession through its Association and Foundation — and I enjoy talking with reporters across the country!”

If the volunteers missed you during the phone-a-thon or you’d like to give to NCRF, please call 800-272-6272 to make your 100 percent tax-deductible donation.

Annual call for volunteers

Call for volunteers imageDon’t miss this chance to get involved. Each year, NCRA members dedicate their time and expertise to shape the future of the profession through committee service. You could be one of those individuals: individuals who are committed to sharing their time and talents; individuals who have specialized skills and expertise; individuals who are willing to be enthusiastic advocates for NCRA and encourage others to get involved.

NCRA currently has an array of committees, subcommittees, and task forces composed of individuals working to advance the goals of the association and to meet the needs of the membership. The only way that NCRA is successful with its programs and activities is with the commitment of member volunteers who are willing to share their time and talent.

“Working on NCRA committees isn’t all work. It’s a learning process. You learn so much from your service. You develop very strong friendships that last long after your committee service is concluded. If you want to stay on the cutting edge of our profession, serving on NCRA committees is a great way to stay abreast of what’s happening in the industry,” said Sue Terry, RPR, CRR, an NCRA Director, and a freelance reporter from Springfield, Ohio.

NCRA is looking for members who want to become involved and make a difference in the profession. NCRA has committees that manage governance, education, and technology, to name a few.

“Service at the national level is one of the ultimate ways to give back to the court reporting, captioning, and legal videography professions, as well as to support students and court reporting programs,” said Tiva Wood, RDR, CMRS, NCRA’s President-Elect and a freelance reporter from Mechanicsburg, Pa. “Volunteering to serve on one of NCRA’s diverse committees, subcommittees, or task forces ensures that we as members have the ability to control the future of our professions.”

Each NCRA committee has a professional staff liaison who will assist you with your responsibilities and provide you with any resources you require. You will become more familiar with the workings of your national association, meet fellow committee members, forge new professional relationships, and give back to your profession. Some committee assignments are short-term or project-oriented. We need your expertise. Why not give it a try?

You’ll find on NCRA.org/committees descriptions of NCRA’s committees, task forces, and councils. See which ones interest you and then send an email to committees@ncra.org to let us know a little about your background and which committee(s) interests you. Please be specific in your interest areas. A committee assignment can’t be guaranteed for everyone, but there will be an earnest attempt to match your background with the 2016-2017 committee needs.

“Serving this year as the co-chair of NCRA’s newly formed New Professionals Committee has been an extremely rewarding experience for me thus far,” said Cheryl M. Haab, RPR, a freelance reporter from Westminster, Calif. “Not only has it given me the opportunity to serve alongside colleagues from across the country with whom I might not otherwise interface on a regular basis, but it has taught me a great deal about leadership and organization, two very valuable traits when dealing with attorneys in the workplace. In addition, the knowledge I’ve garnered from a reliable source such as NCRA about professional ethics and conduct has vastly improved the scope of my knowledge as a working professional.”

Wood will consider NCRA’s 2016-2017 committee appointments this spring. Please visit NCRA.org/committees for information about NCRA’s committees and how to be considered for an appointment.

“I encourage anyone who wants to serve their profession, establish long-term connections with others in this career field, and know they have made a positive difference for the whole to strongly consider learning more about the opportunities that exist through NCRA committee work,” said Wood.

Thirty ways to give back to the profession

10 ways Infographic_logo_2015Giving back to the profession does not require a significant investment of time or money. You might pen a simple post to your Facebook page telling the world what you love about your job or make a short presentation at your child’s school on career day. Take the opportunity where it presents itself. A friendly chat with a neighbor over the backyard fence or at a cocktail party could showcase our unique profession and perhaps become a life-altering encounter for a man or woman whose curiosity you’ve piqued.

Here are thirty ways that anyone can do to give back to the profession. Acting on just one or two is bound to create a lasting impression that will benefit our profession and all of us in it.

  1. Tell someone new what you do for a living. Be enthusiastic! Court reporters, captioners, and legal videographers do interesting stuff. It’s great cocktail party conversation.
  2. Point out the TV captions in a public place, say at your gym, a bar, a hotel lobby. Ask your friends, do you know how those captions get there? They won’t know – but they’ll be curious to find out!
  3. Write to your city council or town government, thanking them for having transcripts of public meetings. (And if they don’t provide that public service, ask them why not.)
  4. Tell the attorney you’re working with why a court reporter’s impartiality matters. It’s part of what makes us special.
  5. While you’re at it, tell the nice attorney how realtime services can help him or her.
  6. Sponsor a student member in your state or national association.
  7. Give a Career Day presentation at your local high school. Bring your steno machine and write to an iPad.
  8. Mentor a court reporting student.
  9. Offer to talk to a court reporting class about what life after school looks like. Give them good advice. Alert them to some just-out-of-school pitfalls to avoid. Be encouraging.
  10. Thank your Congressional representatives for supporting legislation that supports realtime, court reporting, and captioning.
  11. Talk to a class of law school students about the nuts and bolts of making the record. (Nobody else is going to tell them!) NCRF has materials to help you with this outreach.
  12. Thank the attorneys for hiring you, a certified court reporter, and tell them why certification matters, for court reporters as well as legal videographers. Certified means professional.
  13. Team up with a court reporter friend or two and put together a short primer of do’s and don’ts of making the record. Your local bar association will be grateful to you for the educational opportunity. Maybe your favorite law firm would like you to come in and address their young associates. Get bonus points for offering CLEs!
  14. Transcribe an interview with a veteran for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. You can earn PDCs. And it is a very satisfying thing to do.
  15. Host a Veterans History Project event for veterans in your area. Do it at a court reporting firm or court reporting school. Get your community involved! People like to honor our veterans.
  16. Get involved with students on the NCRA Student Facebook page or other student networking sites. They’ll love it! An excellent way to motivate students.
  17. Sponsor a student’s attendance at an NCRA event.
  18. Write an article for the local ABA newsletter about what to look for in a court reporter. Or write a letter to a local community organization about the importance of accessibility for all citizens, especially our fellow citizens who are deaf and hard of hearing.
  19. Pass along your experience. Write an article for your state association newsletter or the JCR about a valuable lesson learned. Your readers will appreciate the heads up.
  20. Volunteer your services (or find volunteers) for your neighbors who are deaf or hard of hearing. They might love to have CART for church or local meetings.
  21. Volunteer for a state association or NCRA committee. A great way to meet people!
  22. Attend a TRAIN event, upgrade your realtime skills — and then help others do the same.
  23. Share your expertise with your peers; put on a seminar at a court reporting event. Sound scary? Okay, sign up to learn something new yourself!
  24. Send NCRA membership forms to court reporters you know who are not members, and tell them why they should be. Size matters. There’s power in numbers!
  25. Send a testimonial (written or video) to NCRA to support NCRA’s efforts to inform people about the benefits of court reporting as a career.
  26. Write an op-ed for your local newspaper advocating for the use of stenographic court reporters in the courts; explain the value of captioning at community events.
  27. Become involved with your state CSR board. They need your expertise. And you’ll be surprised how much you will learn!
  28. Pay it forward. Remember to thank the people who’ve helped you along the way.
  29. Donate to the National Court Reporters Foundation, which will put your money to good use.
  30. Social media — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn — are great venues to tell people what you love about your job. No need to vent about rush transcripts and fast-talking lawyers. Create some positive buzz! Celebrate your profession, your career, the unique job you do where you are the expert. Be proud of your role as a court reporter, legal videographer, captioner, or CART provider. You are part of a long and proud history of service to the bench, the bar, and the public at large.

NCRA showcases realtime technology to legal community at CTC

CTC 2015_4NCRA partnered with YesLaw to showcase the latest in court reporter technology with demonstrations of realtime at the recent National Center for State Courts’ Court Technology Conference, held Sept. 22-24 in Minneapolis, Minn.

CTC 2015 is the most relevant and comprehensive court technology conference in the world. Its education program and exhibit hall attracts more than 1,500 judges, court administrators, court technologists, court managers, and other justice-system professionals from across the country and the world. CTC participants learn how to use the latest advances in technology in ways to help them improve court operations and better serve the public.

NCRA has participated in all 14 of the Center’s conferences, which provide court and legal experts the opportunity to see and hear about the latest technology. NCRA and YesLaw exhibited in a booth to explain to administrators, judges, and law experts the benefits of a court reporter providing a realtime record in court proceedings. In addition, Stenograph donated a Disco Diamante stenography machine for the occasion, which volunteer court reporters used for demonstrations for booth attendees.

NCRA’s exhibit at CTC, as well as a number of other venues throughout the year, is part of the efforts by its National Outreach Committee to increase the visibility of the court reporting profession and the high-quality services that NCRA members offer.

CTC 2015_1“NCRA’s presence at CTC is an opportunity to showcase realtime and the technological advances stenographic reporters bring to courtrooms every day. We were able to demonstrate how realtime, wireless technology, and litigation support tools benefit the court system and the public, and how court reporting excellence and high-tech innovations can merge to provide a low-cost, highly productive courtroom that benefits the judge, attorneys, court administrators, and other judicial participants,” said NCRA President-elect Tiva Wood, RDR, CMRS, a court reporter from Mechanicsburg, Pa.

“Attending CTC was a fantastic opportunity to show off realtime to court administrators and judges and let them see the best option for keeping the record in courtrooms across the country, mostly at a time when many state court administrators are looking for alternative methods,” said Sharon Steinbrecher, RPR, an official court reporter from Anoka, Minn. “The more exposure we can provide to the people who are making these decisions that affect so many reporters’ livelihoods, the better off we are,” she noted.

Jean M. Whalen, RDR, CRR, CCP, an official court reporter from St. Paul, Minn., who also volunteered at the NCRA booth doing realtime demonstrations, said she enjoyed showing the court administrators and especially the IT professionals in attendance that digital stenography is more relevant than ever.

“I enjoyed seeing the looks of wonderment on the faces of those new to realtime when they noticed that what they were saying was coming up on a screen in front of them. There were a lot of exhibitors at the event, and I think it was of utmost importance that NCRA was there to represent us,” she said.

CTC 2015_5Other NCRA members and volunteers who attended the event and assisted with realtime demonstrations and answering questions by visitors at the booth included: Jan Ballman, RPR, CMRS, Chair of the National Court Reporters Foundation, Minneapolis, Minn.; Adrienne Conzemius, RPR, Blaine, Minn.; Rachel Erickson, Bloomington, Minn.; Jill Garrison, RPR, St. Paul, Minn.; Janell Gruber, RMR, CRR, CBC, CCP, St. Cloud, Minn.; Mary Johnson, RPR, CRR, Shakopee, Minn.; Merilee Johnson, RMR, CRR, CBC, CCP, Eden Prairie, Minn.; Mary Krawiecki, RPR, CRR, CBC, CRI, Alexandria, Minn.; Lori Morrow, RMR, CRR, CCP, Eden Prairie, Minn.; Mike Nelson, CAE, NCRA CEO and Executive Director, Reston, Va.; Pat Nelson, Minnesota; Debbie Peterson, RPR, Prior Lake, Minn.; Jennifer Sati, RMR, CRR, CBC, CCP, CRI, Dayton, Minn.; Sharon Steinbrecher, RPR, Anoka, Minn.; Jean M. Whalen, RDR, CRR, CCP, St. Paul, Minn.; Sara Wood, CAE, NCRA Director of Membership, Reston, Va.; and NCRA President-elect Tiva Wood, RDR, CMRS, Mechanicsburg, Pa.

Members of TAC produce record number of tests in two days

TAC2Members of NCRA’s Test Advisory Committee met in early June at the association’s headquarters in Vienna, Va., to review questions for the Registered Diplomate Reporter certification written knowledge test as well as write material for skills tests for various certifications.

During the meeting, TAC members considered materials submitted by members of the NCRA Content Committee, as well as previously submitted materials that had not been reviewed. Over two days, members successfully gauged skill tests difficulty by writing the tests on their machines, verified word and syllable counts, and marked test for mandatory punctuation, successfully identifying matter for 33 new skills tests for NCRA certifications.

“We divided some of the tasks, such as counting and punctuation, among some TAC members while others dictated material to other members to take down on their machines. I think this is one reason why we accomplished so much beyond the obvious fact that we just worked really, really hard over four days,” said Russell L. Page, Jr., a freelance reporter from Washington, D.C., and co-chair of TAC.

TAC1“I appreciated the commitment shown by each TAC member to get through as many tests as they did,” said Cynthia Bruce Andrews, NCRA’s Director of Professional Development Programs and staff liaison to TAC. “NCRA sends a special thank you to members John Eby and Brenda Fauber, who have served for more than 10 years on TAC and will be rolling off the committee next year.”

John Eby, RDR, CRR, is a freelance reporter from El Paso, Texas, and Brenda Fauber, RDR, CRR, CPE, is an official court reporter from Omaha, Neb.

TAC is one of several committees that operate under NCRA’s Council of the Academy of Professional Reporters. CAPR is responsible for the development and administration of continuing education programs, credential examinations, and any additional programs assigned by the Board of Directors. CAPR also works with NCRA staff and others as necessary to develop resources that allow court reporters to prepare for NCRA exams. Additionally, CAPR oversees the appeal process for lost certifications, and it documents policies and procedures for reinstatements, testing appeals, and all other necessary activities.

TAC meets to write and review tests in January and in June of each year.

NCRF holds annual fundraising phone-a-thon

Thousands of calls made between April 20 and May 1 by eight NCRA members who volunteered for the National Court Reporters Foundation’s annual phone-a-thon generated donations ranging from $10 to $995, raising a total of $41,500. The donations are used to help the Foundation support its many projects, including the funding for the development of the new RPR Study Guide, a short awareness video for the Take Note Campaign, the launch of the Professionalism Institute, and a grant to help in the development of a massive open online course, generally called a MOOC.

Volunteers for this year’s effort included NCRA Vice President Tiva Wood, RDR, CMRS, Mechanicsburg, Pa.; Marianne Cammarota, RDR, CRR, Florham Park, N.J.; NCRF Trustee Teresa Kordick, RDR, CRR, CBC, CCP, CRI, CPE, Des Moines, Iowa; NCRF Trustee Joan McQuinn, RPR, CMRS, Rockford, Ill.; Merilyn Sanchez, RMR, CRR (ret.), Chandler, Ariz.; Bonni Shuttleworth, CRI, CPE, Crestwood, Ill.; Jackie Timmons, RDR, Darien, Ill.; and Chris Willette, RDR, CRR, CCP, Wausau, Wis.

NCRF launched its annual phone-a-thon in the mid-1990s and has relied on using member volunteers to make the calls rather than an outside company because of the high success rate of the peer-to-peer outreach, said B.J. Shorak, NCRF Deputy Executive Director.

“I’ve had the chance to speak with thousands of court reporters, broadcast and CART captioners, teachers, students, and retired professionals for more than the past 20 years,” said Cammarota. “They thank me for taking the time out to volunteer. But I must thank them for their stories and their generosity. They inspire me.”

In addition to helping to ensure that financial support is available for NCRF’s programs, volunteering for the annual phone-a-thon is also a way for NCRA members to honor their profession.

“The Foundation supports my profession through the many programs it provides. Volunteering allows me to pay it forward,” McQuinn said.

NCRF supports the court reporting and captioning professions through philanthropic activities, such as the Legal Education Program, which facilitates the education of the legal profession about the role of the court reporter through Making the Record, a court reporter-led seminar geared toward law students, attorneys, and judges. Under the Legal Education Program, NCRF has also partnered with NCRA at the biennial Court Technology Conference, sponsored by the National Center for State Courts, to ensure court reporter technology is before key players in court administration.

NCRF’s Oral Histories Program raises public awareness about the court reporting profession by focusing on capturing and transcribing the poignant oral histories of American wartime veterans through the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. NCRF coordinates with NCRA members to complete transcripts of the interviews and submit them to the Library of Congress. In the 12 years that NCRF has partnered with the VHP, NCRA members have submitted more than 3,300 transcripts, as well as additional transcripts to other program partners, including the National Equal Justice Library at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., the Center for Public Policy & Social Research at the Central Connecticut State University, and the Illinois State Library. NCRF also provides stories of Holocaust survivors for transcription.

The Foundation also sponsors prospective court reporters through its Student Initiatives Program, which provides several scholarships and awards, including the Frank Sarli Memorial Scholarship and the New Professional Reporter Grant. The student program also encourages future court reporters to become involved within the profession’s community by inspiring students to participate in the VHP.

The Foundation also supports NCRA’s participation in Intersteno to make certain the organization is able to represent the court reporting and captioning professions globally.

“Every dollar we raise is critical to NCRF and the work it does,” Shorak said. “We have wonderful volunteers who give up about five days of their time and every reporter knows what that means, whether they are an official or a freelancer.”

 

To donate or for information on NCRF’s programs, visit NCRA.org/ncrf or contact B.J. Shorak, Deputy Executive Director, at bjshorak@ncra.org or at 800-272-6272, ext. 126.