Career days are great ways to promote the profession

With 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Week on the horizon, many NCRA members are planning to mark the event by participating in a career day at a local middle or high school where they can show off their steno skills and introduce students to the benefits of a career in court reporting or captioning.

The JCR Weekly reached out to NCRA members Ann Hall, RPR, an official court reporter from Monterey, Calif., and Jason Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, a freelance court reporter from Fort Collins, Colo., who each recently participated in local school career days, to find out more about their experiences.

Ann Hall

In early November, Hall participated in a college/employment fair day at Seaside High School in Seaside, Calif., where she introduced the court reporting profession to students from all four of the grades. Hall said she was asked to participate by a counselor from the school, and she noted that the last time she had attended a career event was some 12 years ago.

“It was great to work with young people and hopefully get some of them interested in court reporting,” she said, adding that she would definitely do it again if asked. “Thanks to the package I received from NCRA, I had many NCRA magazines available, some ‘swag’ from various vendors, and information about court reporting in general.”

Among the many questions students asked her were: How does the machine work? What’s it like to be in court?  What do you do when people talk over one another? And among the responses, Hall heard: “Cool!  I’ve never seen a machine like that before.”

Hall added that she learned about the court reporting profession from a family friend who worked as a reporter, and it was he who encouraged her to pursue the career.

Jason Meadors

Meanwhile, in Colorado, Meadors said he showcased the court reporting and captioning professions to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders at the Broomfield Heights Middle School in Broomfield, Colo., upon the request of an associate.

Meadors said the students’ questions were great, and the experience gave him hope for the generation to come, because they were bright, inquisitive, and polite. The experience also gave him an appreciation for the need for NCRA members to get their story out to younger people.

“They wanted to know what type of training was involved, how much education, how much work per week, if travel was involved, what kind of people I ran across, what were my most and least favorite aspects of the job, if I got perks for airline miles – I don’t remember them all, but the questions were very perceptive,” he said.

“They thought the machine and realtime display was pretty cool. They thought the traveling I do was pretty cool,” added Meadors, who noted that he has done other career day events which, unlike this one that rotated students through one classroom, were set up similar to a vendor hall.

Meadors, who said he would certainly participate in a career event again, advises others who decide to attend one to go prepared with a presentation they want to give, but be agile, because the format they choose might not be the format that’s best for the setting.

“For instance, I had a PowerPoint prepared, but I ditched it. I was prepared to scatter realtime screens throughout the classroom, but that wouldn’t have worked as well either. Instead, I answered their scads of questions, I told the most entertaining but honest stories I could, and they gathered around while I did a realtime display,” he said.

“We really do have a fascinating profession. I gave my presentation in tandem with a lady who had the title of ‘project manager,’ and she kept complaining privately to me that she just sounded boring compared to the work we do,” he noted.

Meadors said he first learned about the court reporting career while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he was assigned to legal services clerk class right out of boot camp.

“The highest graduates of that class went to the court reporter class. It was stenomask training. I placed high there, found out I loved the work, and went to steno school upon my honorable discharge from the Marines,” he added.

NCRA member Penny Wile, RMR, CRR, owner of Penny Wile Court Reporting in Norfolk, Va., has been a court reporter for more than 30 years. Recently she also showcased the court reporting and captioning profession, but this time, to students in a paralegal course taught at her local community college. Read Penny Wile’s story.

For more information about career day resources that are available from NCRA, contact, or visit the 2019 Court Reporting & Captioning Resource page.



NCRA member recognized with teaching award

Gadsen State Community College, Gadsen, Ala., announced on Dec. 5 that NCRA member Michelle Roberts, CRI, an instructor in the Court Reporting Program on the East Broad Campus, has been awarded the Eugene Prater Exceptional Achievement in Teaching Award.

Read more.

NCRA members take advantage of 2018 Best.Friday.Ever.

Diane Kraynak

On Black Friday, NCRA members took advantage of five fantastic discounts and giveaways. These giveaways were tied to membership renewals, event registrations, and purchases for e-seminars and certification tests.

Hundreds of NCRA members renewed their membership on Black Friday for an opportunity to win one of several giveaways. Diane Kraynak,  RMR, CRR, CRC, a captioner with Mid-Michigan Reporting from Wyoming, Mich., won a free registration for the NCRA Realtime Contest. “I am delighted to win a free Realtime Contest entry!  I try to compete every three years, hoping to get some CEU points,” Kraynak said. “My sister lives near Denver, so the 2019 convention has been on my radar since 2016.”

Kraynak said that she has competed in the national Realtime Contest several times and used to compete in the Speed Contest each year. “It is such a wonderful way to check one’s skills and get a tax-deductible vacation to boot! I won seven times, but never reached my goal of winning three in a row. I placed fifth in my first one 42 years ago and second the rest of the times.”

Also heading to the 2019 NCRA Convention & Expo in Denver, Colo., will be Elena McClash, RPR, an official court reporter from Center Moriches, N.Y., who won a free registration to the Association’s premier event. Other winners in this year’s Best.Friday.Ever. Black Friday event included: Pamela Myers, a freelance reporter from Glendale, Calif., who won a free NCRA membership for 2020; and Trina Semino, RPR, a freelance court reporter from Winter Park, Fla., and Hannah Jagler, RPR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Milwaukee, Wis., who each won a free Skills Test registration.

“Winning a free membership is very exciting. I just rejoined NCRA after many years, so it’s a great surprise,” said Myers. “I’m hoping to complete the final (225 Q&A) leg of my RPR in 2019, in anticipation of maybe moving in the future to a state where that is required, and I look forward to checking out the continuing education classes,” she added.

Just 10 days left to take advantage of open enrollment for health insurance

By Natalie Dippenaar

In November, we provided a list of some of the more popular insurance products that NCRA makes available to members. Considered one of the top three reasons for joining NCRA, members have access to everything from equipment and liability insurance to pet insurance and healthcare plans. NCRA’s ongoing partnership with Mercer Health and Benefits Administration has made it easy for members and their families to get the protection they need at an economical price.

Open enrollment, the period of time each year when you can sign up for health insurance, varies depending on the healthcare plan you are looking for. The open enrollment period for healthcare plans in the individual market ends December 15. If you don’t sign up for health insurance during open enrollment, you usually cannot sign up until the next open enrollment period unless you experience a qualifying event. Qualifying events like getting married, getting divorced, the birth of a baby, or losing existing health coverage allow for a special enrollment period exception.

NCRA’s insurance platform, provided by Mercer Marketplace 365 and supported by GetInsured, is a tool to help you meet your healthcare needs, including whatever information you need on tax breaks or penalties, available coverage in your area, or to find out if a life event has changed your insurable status. Providing only basic non-identifying information, you can determine what plans are available to you and at what price. Each plan is scored based on your needs to help you find the best match. Of course, the final decision is yours. There is no commitment, and you can even use the website to comparison shop against an existing plan. Another great feature is the Health Insurance Basics area that explains many of the terms associated with insurance. Now is the time to investigate your options to make confident and informed decisions to protect you and your family at a rate that fits your budget.

Members are encouraged to visit or call 866-454-6479 as soon as possible, but by December 15, to find out more and take advantage of this opportunity to get insured for 2019. If you aren’t a member, consider whether this is something that makes an NCRA membership a worthwhile investment. Non-members can compare plans but won’t be able to enroll without being a current NCRA member.

If you don’t need health insurance, the end of the year is also a great time to review your other insurance needs and prepare for the year ahead. Consider visiting to see what products are available to you.

For more information
To see all NCRA insurance options available to you, please visit See below for some of the more popular ways to find out more information about Mercer’s products.

  • For health insurance*, visit or call 866-454-6479 by December 15, 2018.
  • For Long-Term insurance, call 800-358-3795.
  • If you have general questions, call 800-503-9230.

*Please note: not all plans may be available in all states.


Natalie Dippenaar is NCRA’s Assistant Director of Member Relations.

Griffin & Associates announces name change to Griffin Group International

Griffin & Associates, Arizona’s largest court reporting firm, announced in a press release issued Nov. 1 that the firm has changed its name to Griffin Group International and has introduced a new captioning service.

Read more.

NCRA’s New Professionals Advisory Committee meshes with the new Veteran Liaison Committee

The New Professionals Advisory Committee (NPAC) is a committee comprised of new professionals in the court reporting profession. Members partner with a Veteran Liaison Committee (VLC) as a resource to draw guidance and expertise from as they work to blaze a path forward for new reporters.

“To those reporters who are new in the field, or to those who are making a change from one discipline to another, we are your voice,” said Mike Hensley, RPR, who chairs the NPAC. “We are here to make sure that your needs are met by NCRA. We also strive to provide helpful information that will build a strong foundation for your future career.”

Hensley is a freelance deposition reporter from Dublin, Calif., who works in the Bay Area. He has been reporting for three years and is a strong proponent of earning certifications and using technology at every opportunity. He also serves on the board of directors for the California Court Reporters Association and has a strong passion for contributing to court reporting by educating and empowering others to achieve their highest potential.

Other NCRA members include:

New Professionals Advisory Committee

Mike Hensley

Mike Hensley, RDR (Committee Chair)

Mike Hensley is a freelance deposition reporter working in the Bay Area of California. He has been reporting for 3 years and is a strong proponent of earning certifications and using technology at every opportunity. He also serves on the board of directors for the California Court Reporters Association and has a strong passion for contributing to court reporting by educating and empowering others to achieve their highest potential.

Rachel Barkume

Rachel Barkume, RPR

Rachel Barkume is a freelance reporter in Northern California and the current president of the California Court Reporters Association. She has been reporting since 2011 and has her California CSR and her RPR. She is currently working on obtaining her CRR and Nevada CSR. She was the New Professionals Advisory Committee chair for the first three years of its existence. She has been a freelance reporter, an official, and a CART captioner in her seven years of reporting. She is passionate about the future of our profession and empowering new leaders to embrace their potential.

Whitney Berndt

Whitney Berndt

Whitney Berndt is a newly hired freelance reporter working with Brown & Jones Reporting out of Milwaukee, Wis. She recently graduated with honors from Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Wis. In 2017, Whitney served on the NCRA Student/Teacher Committee. She is a proud member of the Wisconsin Court Reporters Association, where she was awarded a student scholarship in 2017. She loves her job and wants to give back to the associations that have already given her so much.

Jordan Groves

Jordan Groves

Jordan Groves has been a certified court reporter in Montgomery, Ala., for 3.5 years. In addition to being a full-time mother of two and wife to a wonderful husband, Jordan works full-time with Eagle Court Reporting based out of Mobile and serves Montgomery and the surrounding area. She is an active member of the Alabama Court Reporters Association and the National Court Reporters Association.

Debrina Jones

Debrina Jones

Debrina Jones graduated from the College of Court Reporting in 2015. After working in freelance for a few years, she became an official with the state of South Carolina. She is currently back to being a freelance reporter with A. William Roberts, Jr. & Associates in the North and South Carolina area. She is currently working on her RPR. She loves to travel, being active, and enjoys spending time with her 10-year-old daughter.

Shelby Neifeld

Shelby Neifeld

Shelby Neifeld is one of the newer reporters and has been freelancing for Phipps Reporting in the Fort Lauderdale/Miami area since June 2018. Having obtained her Florida court reporting certification in 2015 while still a student, she has always been eager to learn new ideas, tips, and tricks of the trade. Her next goal is to obtain her RPR and, eventually, her CRR.

Callie Sajdera

Callie Sajdera

Callie Sajdera is a new reporter for the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse in Denver, Colo. She is a very proud graduate from Anoka Technical College in Anoka, Minn. In 2017, Callie was presented with the student-of-the-year award from the Minnesota Association of Verbatim Reporters and Captioners, and in 2018, she was also awarded the Paradigm Scholarship presented by Jan Ballman. While she is currently working on her RPR, Callie loves her job and cannot wait to see where this career can take her.

Selana Scott

Selana Scott

Selana Scott is the Program Director for the Court Reporting Program at MacCormac College in Chicago, Ill. She received her B.S. degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in management with a concentration in marketing. She received her J.D. from North Carolina Central University’s School of Law. She previously taught at the Art Institute of Charlotte and Johnson C. Smith University. She also spent ten years at Allstate Insurance Company, where she created a series of state by state communications initiatives and taught within their Education Department.

Ashley Stahl

Ashley Stahl

Ashley Stahl is a new reporter in the Phoenix, Ariz., area. She graduated from court reporting school at Gateway Community College in 2018. That same year, Ashley won first place in the CASE student scholarship competition hosted by the NCRA. Ashley is also a musician, and she holds degrees in music from Florida State University and Arizona State University.


Veterans Liaison Committee (VLC)

Lisa Conley Yungblut

Lisa Conley Yungblut, RMR, CRR, CRC (Committee Chair)

Lisa Conley Yungblut is a proud graduate of Clark State in Springfield, Ohio. She is currently a freelance reporter at Mike Mobley Reporting in Dayton, Ohio, and she spent 23 years freelancing with Spangler Reporting in Cincinnati, Ohio. Lisa spent many years on the OCRA Board of Directors, including serving as president, 2002-2003. She has been honored with OCRA’s Glenn W. Stiles, Jr., Distinguished Service Award and the Diplomat Award. In 2005 and 2018, she won Ohio’s Realtime Contest, and she has placed several times in both the Ohio Realtime and Speed Contests.

Adam Alweis

Adam H. Alweis, RPR, CRR, CRC

Adam H. Alweis has been in the court reporting profession in one form or another his whole life. His family has a long history in the court reporting profession going all the way back to the 1940s, with two uncles, his father and oldest brother also in the profession. Adam started working as a court reporter in 1988 after spending two years at Alfred State College and has continued working in the field for now over 30 years. He has experience in both the freelance and official arenas.

Jan Ballman

Jan Ballman, RPR, CMRS

Jan Ballman began her reporting career in 1981 in St. Paul, Minn., as a freelance reporter. Nine years later she opened her own firm, which became Paradigm Reporting & Captioning in 1998. After 23 years of reporting, Jan retired her steno machine in favor of full-time management and business development for Paradigm. Jan is a Past President of the Minnesota Freelance Court Reporters Association and Past Chair of the National Court Reporters Foundation. She currently serves several local/national court reporting, bar association, and women’s leadership organizations in various capacities and has for many years.

Phyllis Craver-Lykken, RPR

Phyllis Craver-Lykken has been a freelance court reporter in Washington state since 1980 and a principal of Central Court Reporting & Video since 1985. She has enjoyed being involved with the Washington Court Reporters Association (WCRA) and NCRA for the duration of her career. She has served in most every board and/or committee chair position within WCRA, including twice as president.  She is currently serving as the legislative co-chair, where she continues to passionately pursue changes in local court rules and laws relating to court reporting.  She filled a regional representative position for NCRA a few years ago and has served on various other committees.

Michelle Kirkpatrick

Michelle M. Kirkpatrick, RDR, CRR, CRC

Michelle Kirkpatrick grew up and went to reporting school in Iowa and started her freelance career with a firm in Colorado Springs, Colo., in 1986. After moving back to Iowa and owning her own solo freelance business from 1997 to 2008, she then moved to Boulder, Colo., and worked for the state of Colorado as an official from the fall of 2008 till the spring of 2014. She obtained then ventured back out into the freelance world, this time as a realtimer. Her business has evolved into exclusively focusing on providing technical realtime, immediate rough drafts, and same-day or next-day expedites around the country. She is currently based out of Breckenridge, Colo.

Rick Levy

Rick Levy, RPR,Rick Levy is an owner and managing partner of First Choice Reporting & Video Services in Florida. He is an RPR and a Florida Professional Reporter. Rick has served as a director of the NCRA board and as president of FCRA. He was the 2016 recipient of FCRA’s Emily Mann Distinguished Service Award, and in the summer of 2018, he was awarded the Arlene P. Sommers Award for his contribution to students and new professionals in the reporting field.

Become an expert advocate and leader for your profession

The 2019 NCRA Leadership and Legislative Boot Camp promises to provide attendees with an experience like no other when it comes to learning firsthand the power of advocacy and the influence good leadership can achieve.

The 2019 event is being held May 5-7 and will include two full days of training, exploration, and hands-on activities designed to give everyone who attends the takeaways necessary to become successful advocates and leaders in the profession at the local, state, and national level. Training will end with role-playing and mock interviews to help prepare attendees for the final day of the event, which culminates with visits with Washington, D.C., lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

The site of the 2019 event is the Embassy Suites by Hilton, in historic Alexandria Old Town, Va., just outside of Washington, D.C. Anyone in the court reporting, captioning, or legal videography professions wanting to grow and hone their advocacy and leadership skills should make plans to attend the 2019 NCRA Leadership and Legislative Boot Camp.

Watch the JCR Weekly and JCR magazine for more details and information about registration for this one-of-a-kind event.

Last chance to pass an NCRA skills test at 2018 prices  

With NCRA’s new certification fees set to go into effect in January 2019, now is the time to take advantage of your chance to pass one of NCRA’s skills tests at 2018 prices.

NCRA certifications are highly rated by members. Not only do certifications help maintain standards of practice within the professions, but surveys show that those who have earned NCRA’s certifications are highly valued in the marketplace. The exams that require passing a skills test — the RPR, RMR, CRR, and CRC — are nationally recognized in the professional marketplace.

NCRA strives to keep fees low for all members, especially for certification, which, for some people, can be a requirement to get work. Online skills test fees have had no increase since the inception of online testing in August 2015. Effective January 2019, all online Skills Test registration fees will increase by $5 in all categories.

Don’t let this opportunity escape you. Register for the skills tests today and ring in the new year with a new certification!

Make technology work for you with live webinars on apps and Windows 10

Technology shapes our lives each and every day. NCRA’s Technology Committee is sponsoring two live webinars to help you get a better grip on the tech that can save you time and make you more productive.

More about Windows 10
Pam Szczencinski, who has been a software trainer for more than 30 years, will offer a special session focused on how court reporters can get the most out of Windows 10. The 90-minute webinar (1.5 CEUs) will cover updates, including which ones are helpful and which ones to steer away from; lesser-known features of the operating system; and ways to customize your PC to work the best for you. This Nov. 29 session is filling up fast, so register right away!

Register for November 29 webinar: More about Windows 10


Apps for Court Reporters
Known technophile, court reporter, and chair of NCRA’s Technology Committee, Lynette Mueller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, will present a live webinar of her favorite apps and tech gadgets. “The smartphone has become an essential tool for every court reporter and eliminates the need for other gadgets one relies on,” says Mueller. “As our world and work environment is becoming more and more mobile, it’s important to be able to keep up with your calendar, billing, transcripts, and much more at the tips of your fingers. I’m excited to host this discussion about the most important apps I utilize every day to keep me productive and efficient.” The one-hour (1.0 CEU) live webinar will be offered on Dec. 3 and will include a plethora of ways to make you more productive each and every day.

Register for December 3 webinar: Apps for Court Reporters


Earn Professional Development Credits by offering pro bono CART services

NCRA members have the opportunity to earn Professional Development Credits (PDCs) by providing pro bono CART services under a collaborative program agreement with the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) that began in February. The program is intended to help HLAA chapters across the country provide quality CART for their monthly meetings in a more affordable way. The agreement will also help increase the awareness of CART captioning and its benefit for people with hearing loss.

Under the agreement, NCRA-certified captioners can earn 1.0 PDC as part of the 3.0 Continuing Education Credits required every three years. NCRA members who participate in the collaborative agreement program will be reimbursed the fee assessment by the HLAA chapter to register the PDCs.

“This partnership is another step that NCRA is taking to help people with hearing disabilities have their accessibility needs met. Captioning services provided by a certified captioner are the best and only product for people with hearing loss to be able to fully participate in HLAA chapter meetings,” said Matthew R. Barusch, NCRA’s State Government Relations Manager.

“By partnering with HLAA and offering NCRA-certified captioners this additional member benefit, we not only continue our support of our captioner membership, we can help provide this amazing community with a service they need and help one of our long-standing organizational allies grow and prosper,” Barusch added. “I would encourage all of our certified captioner members to reach out to HLAA and find a local chapter near you.”

Under the agreement, the HLAA national chapter coordinator will connect NCRA captioners to local chapters.

For more information about the collaborative agreement program or to sign up, contact Matthew Barusch at