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FROM COMMITTEE: The surprise of my life

By Ellie Corbett Hannum

Sitting in the large conference room at the Gaylord Opryland hotel in Nashville, the excitement mounted as Merilyn Sanchez, RMR, CRR, of Chandler, Ariz., approached the microphone to announce the recipient of the 2013 Distinguished Service Award. I have always enjoyed the ceremony so much because most of the time I am familiar with the recipient and firmly believe that he or she was a great choice, and I jump to my feet with excitement when the person’s name name is announced.

In 2013, I was sitting next to my dear friends Cindy and Forrest Brown RDR (Ret.), and listening intently as Merilyn began to speak. After a few sentences, I started to feel the blood drain out of my face and my heart began to race. Merilyn was mentioning committees and activities that were very familiar to me. However, I kept saying to myself that it was just a coincidence until she said something that I knew was pertaining to me. Me? Are you kidding? Me? I don’t deserve the DSA! I can think of many people more deserving. Then I remembered Ed Varallo, RMR, CRR, saying the exact same thing to me when he received the award. In fact, Forrest said it as well. So I guess it is not uncommon that the recipient believes that whatever he or she did to merit the DSA Committee’s selection of him or her was not noteworthy or special; it was just what he or she believed needed to be done.

I now have the honor of being the Chair of the Distinguished Service Award Committee, after having been a member of the committee for the past two years. As a group, the committee decided it was important to inform the membership of the process to nominate someone to receive the award. The more information we have, the better. We would suggest first getting the nominee’s résumé and attempting to contact people who may have explicit information about the nominee’s contributions to the profession and beyond. Although it is nice to hear that someone is a wonderful person, always ready to pitch in, etc., it really is helpful to know what it is that the person has done that sets him or her apart from all the other people who volunteer to our profession.

This does not have to become a daunting task, but submitting a nomination does require some effort. Imagine that the committee has a blank slate in front of them, and you have the luxury of filling in all the words or of painting the portrait of the person that you want them to see. In large part, it does fall to you to capture the essence of the nominee and to then present information that to the committee. We encourage you to look around and see who you think deserves the award and then set about enlightening the committee. My guess is that you will have some fun along the way as well.

Ellie Corbett Hannum, RMR, CMRS, of Wilmington, Del., is a past Distinguished Service Award recipient as well as past Chair of the National Court Reporters Foundation. Questions about nominating a person for the DSA can be directed to: