By Dave Wenhold
During my 20 years of being an advocate for the court reporting and captioning professions, I am consistently impressed with those members who step up and serve on a committee or the Board. I would personally like to thank every one of you who has served (at NCRA or on the state level) and tried to make a difference for their fellow reporters. It’s not an easy task and not for the faint of heart for sure.
What most people don’t know about Board or committee service is the hundreds or thousands of hours these members give back to the profession, with zero compensation. Yep, they get nada, zip, nil, nothing, zilch! These dedicated souls also tend to give us their vacation or personal time to participate in conference calls or meetings at night and over weekends to try and make your profession better. Who in their right mind would sign up for that? Really great and dedicated people, that’s who!
Additionally, to help these dedicated Board members with their role, NCRA is fortunate to have a dedicated and committed staff. Together with the Board, they implement the policies and directives of the Board. The enormous amount of work that is accomplished by staff is truly impressive, and in my role as Interim Executive Director, I get to see that volume up close and personal. Think about what it takes to support just the 13,000 individual members and their needs (certification, CEUs, payments, invoices, communications, training, conventions, the JCR, student programs, maintaining membership records, responding to negative PR about the profession, as well as supporting the Board, lobbying decision-makers about the profession and assisting state associations, and so much more). With a very small staff, they get a lot accomplished. As they say in politics, this is how the sausage is made.
So why do I tell you all of this? Because this is your profession, and you need to play an active role in it. I can’t tell you the number of times that I have heard “Well, NCRA (or insert a state association) should take care of that or someone needs to do something about it.” This is the tough love portion of this article: You are that someone! The profession is only as strong as its members and the perceptions of those in the field that the public interacts with. Believe it or not, you– and every court reporter and captioner — are NCRA (and your state association) and are the image of profession. That is the truth. Every time you show up to a deposition, in court, providing CART or captioning, you are the ambassador of your profession and by default your associations.
Often an interaction with a reporter ingrains an image into a person’s mind of what they think a court reporter does. We both know that most people have no idea what you do or how difficult it is. Then think about it: If you took just one minute every day to educate a lawyer, judge, witness, child, or a potential reporting student about what you do and the importance of the record what a difference you could make as that ambassador. You have 1,440 minutes in every day, can’t you spare one? You might say “that’s not my job”; but, in the end, if you don’t help influence people that can help you, it could cost you a job. It’s really that simple. If you don’t try to improve your situation, who will?
I am also going to let you in on a little secret. NCRA and your state associations are really there to help you. There is no ivory tower, no conspiracy theories, no star chamber where the Board members plot the downfall of the association. These are your colleagues and working reporters doing their very best to make the best decisions for the industry as a whole. They face the same day-to-day challenges you do with their paying jobs, and in their not-so-free time, they attempt to make your lives better by helping lead the Association and industry into the future.
As the Board and NCRA staff work to move NCRA forward into version 2.0 of the Association, I ask that you raise your hand and offer to help in some small way. Everyone has something to contribute. Everyone has a great idea or can offer some constructive advice or, better yet, be part of the solution and serve on a committee or the Board.
I came back to NCRA to serve in this role for one reason: I love the profession. I definitely didn’t need to for my own business, but I believe in the people and the role you play in the system. But we all can’t do it by ourselves. We need you.
In closing, I am going to use a line from yet another person that came back to help NCRA steer the ship. NCRA Board member Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, reminded me that when a storm hits, and the ship is leaking a little bit, you make a choice to bail out or help save the ship and bail water. We have many people grabbing a bucket to help us get to 2.0. I’ve got my bucket. Can I hand you one to help out? I hope so.
Dave Wenhold, CAE, is NCRA’s Interim Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.