Rosalie Kramm honored with the 2017 Santo J. Aurelio Award for Altruism

Rosalie Kramm receives NCRF altruism award

Rosalie Kramm receives NCRF altruism award

The National Court Reporters Foundation recognized long-time NCRA member Rosalie Kramm, RPR, CRR, San Diego, Calif., with the 2017 Santo J. Aurelio Award for Altruism. The award was presented to Kramm during the Awards Luncheon on Aug. 12 at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo, held in Las Vegas, Nev.

The Santo J. Aurelio Award is given to a working court reporter with more than 25 years of experience who has given back to the profession and to the court reporting community with no expectation of any reward.

Kramm began her career as a court reporter in 1981 working for Robinson & Vint Court Reporters. In 1985, she opened Kramm Court Reporting. According to comments submitted by those who nominated her, Kramm is regarding in the profession for her professionalism, willingness to help, and love of promoting the profession.

Read all the news from the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo.

Eileen Beltz from College of Court Reporting honored with 2017 CASE Award

Jeff Moody, president of the College of Court Reporting, accepted the award on Beltz's behalf.

Jeff Moody, president of the College of Court Reporting, accepted the award on Beltz’s behalf.

Eileen Beltz, CRI, CPE, an instructor at the College of Court Reporting in Valparaiso, Ind., was honored with the 2017 Council on Approved Student Education (CASE) Award of Excellence. The announcement was made at a special awards luncheon held during the NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev., Aug. 10-13. Beltz is from Avon, Ohio.

NCRA’s CASE Award of Excellence recognizes the important role student education plays in the court reporting profession and honors educators for their dedication, outstanding achievement, and leadership. Recipients are nominated by an NCRA member.

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2017-2018 NCRA Board of Directors announced

AMBI5599Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, a freelance court reporter from Wausau, Wis., was installed as NCRA’s 2017-2018 President during the Premier Session held Aug. 11 as part of the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo. The event took place at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. Nativa P. Wood, FAPR, RDR, CMRS, a freelance reporter from Mechanicsburg, Pa., will now serve as Immediate Past President having passed the gavel to Willette.

In addition, Meredith A. Bonn, RPR, Webster, N.Y.; Robyn M. Hennigan, RPR, CRI, Springfield, Ohio; and Tonya J. Kaiser, RPR, CMRS, Fort Wayne, Ind., were installed as new directors. They will serve three-year terms.

Read more.

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Past President Nancy Varallo named 2017 NCRA Distinguished Service Award recipient

Nancy Varallo recognized with NCRA Distinguished Service Award

Nancy Varallo recognized with NCRA Distinguished Service Award

Past President Nancy Varallo, FAPR, RDR, CRR, from Worcester, Mass., was honored with NCRA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award (DSA), on Aug. 11 at the Premier Session held during the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev. The event runs through Aug. 13 at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.

Varallo, the 56th recipient of the DSA, is owner of The Varallo Group in Worcester, Mass. She is a 30-year veteran of court reporting and a past president.

NCRA’s DSA recognizes the distinguished work and service by an individual member for the benefit of the court reporting profession, including service to NCRA as a member, a committee member, a director, or an officer of the Association. Other displays of distinguished work include contributing to the JCR, or service at the state or local court reporters association or in the field of public relations or public affairs. Award winners are nominated by their peers and are recognized at the NCRA Convention & Expo.

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President’s address to the membership at 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo

Willette_HighResThe following is the speech given by 2017-2018 NCRA President Christine J. Willette, RDR, CRR, CRC, at the 2017 Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev.

Because some of my fellow board colleagues and I visited the Mob Museum earlier this week and since we are in Las Vegas, I have a strange question for you before we begin:

Show of hands, how many of you have heard of Jimmy Hoffa?

Jimmy Hoffa was the head of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, one of the largest labor unions in the United States. He did some time in prison for tampering with a jury, and he didn’t attempt to hide his ties to the Mafia and organized crime. Even as shady characters go, Jimmy Hoffa was pretty shady.

In July of 1975, Jimmy Hoffa mysteriously disappeared. His body has never been found. In the 42 years since his disappearance, there have been many theories about where Jimmy Hoffa’s body is buried: Perhaps the end zone of a sports stadium in New Jersey, underneath a tattoo parlor in Tokyo, a cement barn floor in Michigan, or in the Florida Everglades.

I can’t tell you where Jimmy Hoffa is buried. But I can definitively tell you where he is not buried.

You see, I grew up on a beautiful lake in northern Wisconsin. I lived on a resort: Whispering Pine Lodge, which four generations of my family owned and operated. It’s where people came to relax and unwind. Boating, fishing, tennis, snowmobiling … you get the picture. St. Germain, Wis., a town I can nearly guarantee no one in this room, outside of my family and Wisconsin colleagues, has ever heard of. It’s a small town. 1,500 people during the serenity of winter swelling to 15,000 in the summer. I no longer live in St. Germain, but it will always be home for me.

While none of you have heard of St. Germain, you know who has?

The investigative crime unit of The New York Times! That’s who!

Let me take you back to what promised to be like any other peaceful, cold Wisconsin winter night in 1976. My mom had taken me to ice-skating practice. Upon our return home, we were greeted in our kitchen by several men in dark suits questioning my dad and grandpa.

Take one guess what they were looking for!

You got it. Someone had fed The New York Times a tip that Jimmy Hoffa was hiding at a lodge in northern Wisconsin. Sorry, guys, wrong lodge. After several hours of persuading conversation, they moved on. And though it might be interesting to tell you that my interest in the legal field — and specifically, court reporting — was somehow related to my exposure to this strange encounter at the age of 11, that is not the case.

The truth is, however, that I did learn about court reporting at Whispering Pine Lodge. Whispering Pine Lodge was a resort much like the one where “Baby” meets Johnny Castle in the movie Dirty Dancing. If you haven’t heard of Jimmy Hoffa, you probably haven’t heard of Dirty Dancing, either.

There was a guest who returned to Whispering Pine Lodge each summer with her family. She would spend time proofreading while lounging on the beach. I remember asking her what she was doing. She shared her story and answered my many questions. I was immediately captivated. With encouragement from my mom and my favorite business teacher, Mr. Check, my court reporting journey began.

When I graduated from court reporting school in the spring of 1985, I was ready to take on the world. After 32 years in this profession, I am still amazed by our skill each time my fingers hover over my keys awaiting the first word. I have heard some people call it magic!

So, no, I didn’t learn anything about Jimmy Hoffa’s final resting place during my childhood at Whispering Pine Lodge. Instead, and even better, I learned about court reporting.

I’ll get back to that in a moment. What I’d like to do now is extend a sincere welcome to my colleagues, guests, and family.

I also want to thank and acknowledge our outgoing president, Tiva Wood.

Last year in Chicago, after her motivational speech, Tiva looked me in the eye, and said, “Well, only 52 weeks left!” The work that Tiva has done over the past year to support and advance our profession has been inspirational. Tiva, thank you for your dedication and leadership! You are an incredible mentor, colleague, and friend.

Last year, Tiva talked about how important it is for each of us to tell the story that lead us to court reporting and how fascinating our career can be. Tiva talked about how ridiculously hard court reporting is and that the challenges we face as a profession are, likewise, ridiculously hard.

While we have made progress, our challenges remain formidable. Our work as a profession and as an Association must rise to meet those challenges. Yes, we have challenges that were decades in the making, and we’re not going to fix those challenges overnight. However, if we are to achieve any level of success, we must meet those challenges together with hard work, service, and perseverance.

I also wish to congratulate and thank the new NCRA Board of Directors for their service and commitment to tackling these challenges. Our new opportunities for improvement will require hard work, service, and perseverance.

NCRA is an organization that relies heavily on the contributions of volunteers. An understood component of volunteerism is that you are giving your expertise and, of course, your time. Over the next year, I will invest my time and energy to do the best I can to make this profession and Association thrive. I proudly and gladly sacrifice this time and energy. But in so doing, I must first do something that for me will be ridiculously hard. There are some very special people in my life who are here today. They have been so understanding of the time I have sacrificed with them while I serve a profession I love.

These people are an indelible part of my story: my cousin Kari and her husband Geoff; my aunts, Kathy and Mary Kay, who have served as babysitters, role models, and friends; my parents, Rosalie and Gary, who exemplify the true meaning of love and dedication, who taught me what hard work, loyalty, integrity, and caring for others means. I’m so pleased that our children Shawn, a mechanical engineer, and Andrea, a CPA and financial analyst, are here this weekend. My husband, Mike, and I are incredibly proud of them.

And, certainly most important, and unfortunately sometimes last, Mike, my husband of 31 years. Mike, along with my dad, is one of the most patient and supportive people on earth. Whether I’m traveling, spending yet another night on a conference call or physically in Mike’s presence but with my attention glued to a computer on my lap, he takes it all in stride, respects my call to duty, and knows that this is a labor of love.

I love you all very much.

Now, let’s go back to Whispering Pine Lodge because it was at that resort where I was exposed to not only court reporting, but also hard work, service, and perseverance.

We lived in the main lodge at Whispering Pines. This required 24/7 availability to deliver the services our guests expected. It required that four generations work together as a team. I learned about being kind, thinking of others, and that anything worthwhile took time … that perseverance meant having the focus and patience to get there one step at a time.

I don’t have to tell you about perseverance. We all experienced it in court reporting school, making progress one step at a time. And our work as a profession and as an Association must be no different.

Early in my career, while I was getting established as a new professional, I was drawn to the concept of service to my profession, but I couldn’t immediately find a way to get involved.

Sometime in the ‘90s, I got an email from the Wisconsin Court Reporters Association president. She asked if I was interested in filling a vacated spot on the WCRA board. I thought, “Me? Really? What could I possibly offer?”

But here it was, my opportunity to serve. It was my time to give back to the profession that had given me so much. Did I have the spare time? Not really. I was busy working as a reporter, managing my firm, and raising two very active teenagers. Still, I felt the strong urge to step up and give back. I said yes!

At my first board meeting, I sat in awe of the talent in the room. I couldn’t believe the opportunity in front of me. Before I knew what hit me, I was asked to represent WCRA at NCRA’s Legislative Boot Camp in Washington, D.C. I thought, “Me? Really? What could I possibly offer?”

While there, I met state leaders from across the country, and my awe grew as I saw the lengths to which others would go to serve this profession. I was incredibly inspired by the passion of those who served at the national level. I shared their passion. I shared their pride for our profession.

I worked and persevered for the profession back home, doing what I could to advocate and serve Wisconsin court reporters. I was doing what I knew. You guessed it: hard work, service, and perseverance.

Then in 2010, the phone rang. No, it wasn’t The New York Times looking for Jimmy Hoffa. It was the NCRA President, who was asking me to fill a vacated position on the NCRA Board of Directors. And this time, I didn’t just think it, I said it out loud: “Me? Really? What could I possibly offer?” I humbly accepted.

In 2014, after four years of board service, I chose not to seek a leadership position on the NCRA Board. Mike and I were moving. We had two college graduates getting settled into their adult lives and scattering to different parts of the country. I wanted to spend more time with my family. And, of course, I had my firm; my reporters and my business needed my attention. I didn’t believe I had the time to serve at a higher level.

But a funny thing happened. That hard work … that perseverance … that commitment to serve my profession — I couldn’t just turn it off. I felt like I’d left something undone.

So, in early 2015, when I was a mere seven months into my NCRA Board “retirement,” and I was asked to run for NCRA Vice President, I didn’t hesitate. “Me? Really? Yes! I know I have something to offer.”

So, I stand here today, with equal parts pride and humility, as your NCRA President. “Me? Really? Yes.”

I have no magic wand like our keynote speaker Steve Wyrick. I have no innate ability to create change with a snap of my fingers. What I do have is you. And I’m asking you to join me on our journey. Engage. Volunteer. Take a stand for our profession.

We are all busy. You know who gets the most done? Busy people.

Our NCRA Board consists of 14 people. We have a staff of about 30. We have hundreds of volunteers serving on NCRA committees, serving at the state and local level, and volunteering at local outreach events. But the challenges in front of us demand that more people get involved. I ask each of you to summon something more to serve this profession during a time of intense need.

Are you thinking to yourself, “Me?” Yes, you. “Really?” Yes, really. “But what could I possibly offer?” That answer lies within yourself. Choose what part of the profession interests you. Choose how you want to serve. Find your passion and apply that passion in some meaningful way. We need your hard work. We need your service. And we need your perseverance.

Oh, and let me tell you a little secret about volunteer service: It’s not just about giving. You also get something in return. You learn new things. You make new friends. You open doors you never knew existed. You get an immense feeling of satisfaction knowing that you took part in changing our profession for the better and that when your profession needed you most, you stepped up.

Let’s talk about a few of the opportunities for you to get involved:

It’s no secret that our profession needs replenishing. Three years ago, we published a study that showed that within five years — two years from now — the demand for stenographic reporters would exceed supply by more than 5,000. Whether you’re one year from retirement or one year from graduation, the court reporting shortage will affect every person in this room.

Last year, we introduced NCRA’s A to Z steno program as one way to perpetuate interest in the court reporting field. It’s a way for prospective students to learn a basic court reporting theory before committing to school. We’re asking state Associations, firm owners, and individual reporters to take the time to set up a local A to Z program in your areas. Twenty-four hours is all it takes to make a difference.

Get out and advocate for our profession. This year, representatives of NCRA have attended numerous events. Among those have been state conventions, judicial conferences, and conventions for the Hearing Loss Association of America, the National Career Development Association, and the American School Counselors Association. This fall, NCRA will be represented at the Military Order of the Purple Heart convention, the Court Technology Conference, and the conference for the Association of Late-Deafened Adults. We’ll be looking for local volunteers. This is your opportunity.

More options? Take advantage of the ready-to-use resources available to members through Take Note, Discover Steno, and the NCRA websites to recruit students. Or how about mentoring a current student?

All of these choices, and we haven’t even touched upon the opportunities to improve your professional worth through additional certifications and educational offerings.

This year, we will be rewriting our strategic plan. We will be formulating a plan that will guide us through the next three to five years. Frankly, I don’t foresee much change in our key priorities and goals. The path is clear: We must examine our budget and live within our means with a realistic vision of what we can accomplish. We must grow our membership. We must recruit students and help them graduate. We must create value for all segments of our membership and make NCRA the place we all call our professional home.

We must find common ground, set common goals, and settle on nothing less than success. The future of our profession demands a new level of hard work, service, and perseverance.

I ask you now to consider where you are, where you’ve been, and where you could be. What do you possibly have to offer? You — yes, you — can make a difference.

Feel the pride. Embrace the passion. Make it contagious. And always remember: The magic is at your fingertips.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve.

Read all the news from the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo.

Four 2017 amendments pass by vote of the membership

"I voted" sticker with American flag

Photo by Vox Efx

Four of five amendments passed by a vote of the membership Thursday, Aug. 10, following the NCRA Annual Business Meeting, which was held in conjunction with the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo. One amendment was withdrawn following an adopted motion at the Annual Business Meeting.

Members who were not able to attend in person were able to review a transcript following the meeting. Voting closed at 12:15 a.m. PT, Aug. 11.  686 (5.8%) of 11,917 electors voted in this ballot.

An amendment changing the requirements for Retirement Membership status, which will be effective Jan. 1, 2018,  was voted in by 533 (80.6%) for to 128 (19.4%) against.

An amendment updating the procedures for voting in electronic meetings was voted in by 624 (96.4%) for and 23 (3.6%) against. To maintain consistency throughout the Bylaws, this amendment touched on several different sections for changes.

A third amendment, affecting the Nominating Committee, clarifies the language to include the President-elect in appointing committee members. The amendment was voted in by 593 (92.7%) to 47 (7.3%).

The final amendment voted on by the membership regarded the hiring of a parliamentarian. The amendment was voted in by 559 (91.6%) for to 51 (8.4%) against.

To be adopted, amendments require a two-thirds vote of the Voting Members present and voting at the Annual Business Meeting as well as the Voting Members who are voting by electronic mail or other authorized means of electronic transmission. The full language of the amendments can be found on the NCRA website.

Read all the news from the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo.

Complete coverage of the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo

NCRA Convention & Expo attendees enjoy a moment catching up with friends

NCRA Convention & Expo attendees enjoy a moment catching up with friends

Explore coverage of the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo, held Aug. 10-13 in Las Vegas, Nev., with the stories below.

Awards and scholarships

Information about voting

Special events

Social media coverage

More information




Let the festivities begin in Las Vegas

More than 1,300 court reporters, captioners, legal videographers, educators, students, and other legal professionals joined together to kick off the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo today at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, Nev. The event runs through Sunday, Aug. 13, and is the largest gathering of professionals in the court reporting and captioning professions.

Festivities began with the Opening Reception held in the Expo Hall where dozens of vendors are displaying new products and services. In addition, a number of day-long pre-Convention intensive CAT vendor workshops were also offered.

Other highlights of the day included the Annual Business Meeting, the National Committee of State Associations Meeting, and the National Realtime Contest where contestants in the sold-out competition battled for top honors. First-time Convention goers also enjoyed an “Only New Once” networking reception.

Immediate Past President’s final address to the membership at 2017 Convention & Expo

Tiva Wood - 2The following is the speech given by 2017-2018 NCRA Immediate Past President Nativa P. Wood, FAPR, RDR, CMRS, at the Annual Business Meeting at the 2017 Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev.

Wow – that year whizzed by! It feels like just five minutes ago I was talking to you about the year to come and poof – here we are and I now get to tell you what we accomplished.

Together, we accomplished so much, from increasing benefits to our members through a new savings program to upgrading the Association’s online testing and increasing the number of members who are committed to becoming certified in their areas of specialty.

Communication with the membership is a huge factor in any association’s success. NCRA members are now more informed than ever about what’s happening in the profession as well as within their national organization, thanks to the continued success of the JCR Weekly newsletter, a newly launched Angels quarterly newsletter, and the reinstatement of the PAC newsletter. We also launched a very successful quarterly student newsletter.

While communicating with our members is essential, communicating with others outside of our Association is paramount in raising awareness of the profession that we hold so dear. The 2017 Court Reporting & Captioning Week did just that. There were proclamations in 17 states, media coverage reached nearly 108 million consumers, media outreach generated $167,100 in public relations value, U.S. Representative Ron Kind from the great state of Wisconsin officially recognized the week in a speech before the U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 14, and the first NCRF Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project event was held Feb. 18 at the Hearing Loss Association of America in Bethesda, Md.

My favorite thing about Court Reporting & Captioning Week? It’s a perfect combination of NCRA providing resources to our members, who then go out and make all that I just spoke about happen. It’s the quintessential grassroots effort. And it works.

I mentioned the Hard-of-Hearing Heroes Project and that is the perfect segue to talk about what our volunteer members do for NCRA and NCRF. On Feb. 18, we had members drive from three hours and two hours away to provide services to capture the stories of the veterans – captioners and court reporters. Even if they lived locally, they still gave up a Saturday to volunteer.

The work that is accomplished by our volunteers is nothing short of remarkable. I would sit in on committee conference calls, sometimes late at night, and listen as ideas were shared, solutions were vetted, and implementation was monitored. These extraordinary reporters are the backbone of our Association and I would like to thank each of them for what they’ve given to NCRA this year.

Some other highlights I’d like to share: the largest attendance at the Firm Owners Executive Conference in five years. The Firm Owners Committee and NCRA staff worked hard to make that happen. We also launched NCRA Leadership Training that includes a monthly webinar series to help educate state leaders on successfully running an association and held the first regional leadership conference to provide greater access to state leaders to participate in hands-on training. Stay tuned for a leadership conference coming to your neck of the woods soon! NCRA’s Government Relations Department is available to all state associations as they face challenges at home.

Sometimes a program is so good, it takes off like wildfire. That would certainly define the launch of the A to Z Intro to Machine Shorthand program this past year. A to Z is a free six-to-eight week course taught by volunteers to those interested in a potential career in court reporting or captioning. Steno machines are donated by generous reporters and captioners for the attendees to use. So far, 25 programs have been completed or are currently in progress, and there are eight programs with a definite fall start date and 22 with a tentative fall start date. 153 people have participated, with 41 going on to court reporting school. And by the way, there’s more data coming that will only bolster those numbers.

Please consider starting your own A to Z program. All of the facilitating materials you need can be found at DiscoverSteno on NCRA’s website. We even have a listserv for group leaders to help each other with ideas for promoting the classes, how to obtain steno machines, and locate sites to hold the classes.

Of course, there is work that remains. Recruiting students to our profession and getting them through school successfully is still the top priority. And nearly equal to that is increasing NCRA’s membership. The bottom line? We need students entering court reporting school to ensure the future of our profession, and we must increase membership to ensure the future of this Association.

I thank the Board and NCRA staff for their work and contributions to the common good, and I wish Chris much success as she leads the way in the coming year.

It has been an honor to serve all of you. Thank you.

Read all the news from the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo.

Track your CEUs and more using the NCRA Convention app

NCRA app screenshotBefore heading to Las Vegas for the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo, download the official NCRA convention app. Click here to find the app directly based on your type of phone or tablet or search for “National Court Reporters Assn.” in the Apple App Store or Google Play. Log in using the email address used to register for the 2017 Convention & Expo and the password “NCRA2017”. If you did not use an email address to register, log in using your first initial and last name (ex. John Smith’s login would be “jsmith”) with the password “NCRA2017”. Note that this is a totally new app from what NCRA has used in previous years. You can change the password either upon initial login or, once in the app, by logging out and then clicking the button that says “change password.”

“I’ve honestly never seen a more complete convention app,” said Doug Zweizig, RDR, CRR, an official reporter in Towson, Md. “This one is from soup to nuts. It has the schedule, speaker bios, CEU tracking, exhibitors, attendees, and much more.”

Attendees must use the app to track their CEUs (a QR code will be available at the end of each session), but everyone is encouraged to take advantage of all the other features. Connect with other event participants, exhibitors, sponsors, and speakers by sending them an email directly through the app. Create a personalized agenda with reminders and a Map It feature to help find your way. Access session materials and participate in polls – you might just win a prize! Post pictures to our event feed to share your experience with other participants.

If you get stuck, use this cheat sheet for simple steps to download the app, log in, set up your personal profile, and get started connecting with other event attendees, personalizing your agenda, and accessing up-to-the-minute event information.

If you have any questions about the app, contact before traveling or visit the Membership booth or registration desk on-site.