July 2017 –
As I write this president’s message, I have returned from USCRA’s 2017
Midyear Convention in Kansas City, having spent time with many reporters,
new friends and old, reporters working in federal court and elsewhere. I
have been attending court reporter conventions for a little more than 36
years; state conventions in Nebraska and Iowa, NCRA conventions, as well
as USCRA conventions. Maybe it’s in my DNA. It is an aspect of our
profession that I have always enjoyed.
When I contemplated that time span, it caused me to think about the
reasons I have chosen to be involved in these associations and, conversely,
what some of the reasons may be that others choose not to be involved.
Thinking back to the beginning of my career, attending the two conventions
each year put on by our state association was something I didn’t think twice
about. They were putting on a convention, there would be continuing
education offered that I needed to maintain my certifications, of course I
would be attending.
Suddenly, I found myself immersed in a room of reporters, and everyone
seemed to be grappling with the very issues that I was questioning. Being
new to the state and the court system, I was so thankful to be able to meet
other reporters. Remember, this was before the days of email and I had the
ability to easily reach out to connect with someone that would know exactly
what the problem was. There was a sense of inclusion that I didn’t have as
the only reporter in the small town where I worked.
I have never given a second thought about being a member of NCRA.
Membership in that organization was stressed when I was in school. I
looked forward to belonging to the association that represented reporters
around the country and provided a certification process that would help me
advance my career.
Once I became a federal official in 1995, I filled out another application. Of
course, I needed to be a member of the United States Court Reporters
Association. How else would I know what was going on in the federal courts
and what issues needed my attention? USCRA dealt specifically with the
issues of the federal officials. I felt that I needed to support them.
As I look back over these years and my memberships in these groups, I can
absolutely say that each association membership has been worthwhile. I
continue to support my state association every year with my dues and with
my attendance when I can. That group isn’t as large as it used to be, and
every dollar they get in their coffers is important. I continue to support
NCRA in the same way. I worked hard to earn the certifications I have, and
I will maintain them until I retire.
My membership and work with USCRA are probably much more personal.
Perhaps it is just because it occurred at a later point in my professional life.
Perhaps it is because I know that there is strength in numbers, and we
frequently feel like the little guy dealing with the giant that is the
Administrative Office. They have their job to do, but someone needs to
speak up for and on behalf of the reporters.
Being a member of USCRA keeps me motivated. Talking with other officials
about their local problems helps me to stay connected to other courts and
provides a conduit for information to freely flow from court to court. We can
share ideas that have worked for some and provide input on ideas that may
not be worthy of our time and effort.
I would concede that as the president of this organization I’m afforded more
opportunity to interact with reporters around the country. Attending an
USCRA convention provides that chance for all of you, an opportunity to ask
for advice, to take part in the discussions regarding standards and best
practices used by others, to receive the continuing education that will make
you a better reporter, and to be involved in something about which you are
If there are reporters in your courthouse who are not USCRA members,
please encourage them to join. I invite each of you to join us in Scottsdale
in October for the 2017 Annual Convention.
Nancy Alvarez tweeted the following, “Professional development is a
lifestyle, not an event.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
USCRA President 2016-2017