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Debbie Dibble’s Speech: Planting seeds for the future

By Debbie Dibble

The following is the speech given by outgoing NCRA President Debbie Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, during the Annual Business Meeting held in conjunction with the 2022 Conference & Expo.

A woman had a dream where a genie appeared to her and told her that because she had served others, he would grant her one wish. She thought for a minute and said: “I wish that peace and love and happiness and productivity filled the whole earth.” The genie smiled and replied, “That’s a noble wish, ma’am. But we don’t deal in fruits here – we only deal in seeds!”

As I end my term serving as your President of our Association, I do so with a great deal of gratitude for so many of you that helped me ‘plant’ some good seeds this year, which are beginning to bear the fruits of our labors. We planted seeds through grassroots efforts which blossomed into bombs dropped on strategic targets with what I like to call shock and awe, showing the world how invaluable we are.

A few of the seeds that we planted and harvested this year include:

  • An NCRA letter to bar associations and legal professionals informing them of the bait-and-switch tactics of digital providers
  • An NCRA press release reinforcing the fatal results of a record that was not preserved
  • Grassroots efforts killed legislation in Illinois that, if passed, could have done irreparable damage to our profession
  • A Texas ruling enforcing judicial authority over the industry shut down a major ER company.
  • Our NCRA Captioning Committee had a presence at the HLAA convention and participated in a head-to-head comparison of methods, ensuring that those in need of essential accommodations receive the superior service of a live captioner.
  • NCRA relationships were developed and nurtured through event attendance, resulting in dissemination of critical information directly to the National Association of Court Management, eCourts, National Center for State Courts, the national association of paralegals, the Maritime Law Association, and an academy that trains thousands of plaintiffs’ attorneys every year.
  • In addition, we called up the NCSA infantry to educate, enlighten, and disseminate that a stenographic court reporter is crucial to protect litigants and the general public from disasters created when there is no accountability for securing personal information, such as HIPAA data, social security numbers, medical records, and the newest avenue of risk, biometrics, personal facial recognition/your voiceprint, all of which are at risk as audiovisual data is being shipped to uncertified, unregulated transcriptionists
  • And one of the biggest triumphs, NCRA’s network distribution of The Los Angeles & San Francisco Daily Journal article that documented the damage done when a court reporter does not take personal responsibility for preserving and safeguarding the record.

Our committees, one and all, have kept their commitments and fulfilled their charges above and beyond. There is no way that I can appropriately address and express my gratitude to every committee in the few minutes I have been given, but if I could briefly mention a few.

Our brand-new Membership Committee that was instrumental in stemming the bleeding that is prevalent in every association by keeping our member attrition to the lowest level in a decade. Our CLVS Committee continued their charge of ensuring certification compliance and education for our partners engaged in legal videography. Our Captioning Committee continues to stay abreast of legislation and changes in the industry so that our members are informed and prepared as a knowledgeable and skilled resource to the public. Also, brand-new this year, our Public Outreach and Creative Content Committees have created new and innovative materials to support our other committees and highlight our services to end-user communities including an upcoming, quote, Ted Talk … how cool is that?

Words cannot adequately convey the value of our STRONG team, but I will say so much of the earlier bullet-pointed list would not have been possible without their diligence and institutional knowledge. And as maybe a bit of a cliffhanger, the Distinguished Service Award committee has done some serious heavy lifting and found a most deserving member who has contributed much to our Association and profession. I guess you’ll have to come to the Premier Session tomorrow morning to see what a great job they did.

NCRF, you are our heart and soul. You create opportunities and value that could not be accomplished otherwise. The Mental Health and Awareness resources that are offered free to our members have proven to be an invaluable benefit, and we are so grateful for this support system that protects and strengthens our members. The Angels program … truly needs to be a thank-you to our members, so thank you, Angels, for supporting this NCRF program. And, of course, near and dear to my heart, thank you for the Career Launcher program that is currently educating and preparing our new professionals to arrive at their first deposition faster and with greater skill than ever before.

A quick personal thank you to D. Lawrence (Darryl) Barksdale (husband of Tracy Barksdale, RPR …) photographer extraordinaire, who did his very best to make me look my very best all year long!

And to our staff: You are the foundation on which this Association is built. You have devoted your careers to creating, managing, and strengthening the elements of our industry that are essential to our sustainability. Please know that we recognize your contributions and appreciate you every day for everything that you do.

I have seen many leaders count down the months, days, even minutes to the end of their service. I have had the “blessing” in my life of having a son with a terminal health condition. Having this unique perspective of how cherished every moment of life is has taught me precious truths. If you don’t live your life in the now and to its fullest potential — said one of my older sons — then life and valuable opportunities will pass you by. I have remembered that wise counsel every moment of this year, that each moment is priceless when we are caring for this Association whose strength is vital to the success of our profession.

A primary goal this year was to get our message out of our backyards and into the front yards of stakeholders, judges, court administrators. I know that with the caliber of the members of this Association and with the superiority of NCRA stenographic court reporters, captioners, and videographers, we will continue to rise to every obstacle, not only meeting demands, but exceling. Please always devote yourself to improving yourself in every way and staying superior, always stand proud, and represent this noble and magnificent profession with the distinction it – and we — deserve.

It is more important than ever for NCRA members to band together, to stand up and stand out. To educate ourselves and our industry to the value that we bring.

Why? Because we are heroes to each other – heroes of our profession – each of you is a hero to me!

I leave you with a poem that conveys my heartfelt respect and admiration for each of you.

The world is full of quiet heroes/who never seek the praise

They’re always back off in the shadows/They let us have the limelight days .…

So even though my thanks don’t show

Unnoticed you will never go*

Again, thank you for your confidence in me and your support and encouragement throughout the year. I have enjoyed beyond measure serving you. I am so proud of us and all that has been accomplished this year, that will serve us well for many years to come.

*“Quiet Heroes,” Dan Clark