Celebrate the work of NCRF on Giving Tuesday, Dec. 3

NCRA President Max Curry (l) and President-Elect Christine Phipps (r) share their reasons for supporting NCRF this holiday season.

Giving Tuesday is considered by many as the kickoff to supporting others with donations and contributions through gift giving in the holiday season. This year Giving Tuesday is being celebrated on Dec. 3. The National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) is encouraging NCRA members to contribute to the Foundation to support its many programs. The reasons members give are important, too.

“Giving Tuesday is the chance for those of us who have truly thrived in our industry to help students in need, support the Foundation’s Oral Histories Program, and more,” said Tami Keenan, FAPR, RPR, CPE, NCRF chair and a retired court reporter from Battle Creek, Mich. “We are grateful to any member who texts a donation of any amount.”

 Recently NCRA’s Board members shared why they support NCRF. Those reasons ranged from supporting NCRA’s A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program, NCRF’s Oral Histories Program, helping current students and new professionals through scholarships and grants, and giving back in honor of the work the Foundation does. A special shout-out to all the Board members who donated to the Foundation at the Sat., Nov. 9, Board meeting and throughout the year.

Giving is easy by texting NCRF to 41444.

“Thank you to anyone who donates any amount this Giving Tuesday,” Keenan said. “All contributions help support the many wonderful programs NCRF makes possible to support the court reporting and captioning professions,” she added.

Visit NCRA.org/NCRF to learn more about NCRF. Go to the NCRF mobile cause app to give.

Court reporters gather memories of vets


Court reporter Jackie Curran, interviewer Anne Mahoney, and veteran Mary Gorman.  Mary Gorman was a nurse in Vietnam.  One of her MedEvac patients, Bill Gay, tracked her down through a nurses’ association and had this quilt made for her to commemorate the last 50 years.  It was inscribed on the inside and dedicated to her.   

By Michelle Keegan

On Nov. 2 at Quincy College in Quincy, Mass., the interviews of 13 area veterans were collected as part of the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress by several local court reporters. The mission of the project is to collect and preserve the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. Each veteran was paired with a court reporter and an interviewer. The interviewer led each veteran through a series of questions designed by the Library of Congress to guide the veteran through his or her life before, during, and after the war.

Each veteran had a unique story to tell. Some of the interviews contained humorous stories where a veteran shared a story of how humor played a role in getting through challenging situations. There were moments of sadness, when everybody in the room allowed tears to fall as they recounted how fellow servicemen and family members were lost during the war. And there were moments of confusion as new parts of a veteran’s story came to light in the presence of a loved one in the room who was hearing of certain memories for the first time.

At the end of the interviews, as they were leaving the third floor of Quincy College, each veteran was asked how they felt about the morning that we all shared together. Each veteran relayed the same or similar sentiment: honored that they were being remembered in this way, grateful that their stories were being heard, and touched that the community came together to make this project happen in Quincy.


Richard Cook, 94, is a World War II veteran. Cook, of Boston, was aboard the USS John Land PA 167 in the 2nd Airborne Battalion.  He was shot in his left hip during his service.   He served from 1943 to 1946.  He was accompanied on Saturday by his children and grandchildren while telling his story.

As the Library of Congress website states, the planning and organizing of the project relies on community support. And the community supported this project on Saturday. Many local businesses donated items, and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh sent ceremonial gold coins to give to each of the veterans. The coins were presented to each veteran by Rob Santiago, commissioner of veterans’ services for the city of Boston. State Sen. John Keenan spoke to the group before the interviews began and thanked everybody for participating in this very worthwhile and important project. Volunteers came from as far away as New Hampshire and the Cape. Interviewers and court reporters cleared their schedules Saturday morning and were united in the effort to honor our local veterans by listening to the stories and preserving them. The transcripts of the veterans’ interviews will be archived on the Library of Congress database.

Thank you to the veterans who shared their stories with us on Saturday! And a big shout-out to all of the court reporters who volunteered to interview and transcribe the stories: Justina Petinelli; Janet Sambataro; Elizabeth Bailey; Toni Beckwith, RMR of Watertown, Mass.; Dawn Mack; Jackie Curran, RMR of Stoneham, Mass.; Cari McGill; Kathy Silva, RPR, CRR, of Andover, Mass.; Lauren Buzzerio of Stoneham, Mass.; Darlene Sousa, RPR, of Stoneham, Mass.; Kim Smith; Sharon Saalfield, RPR, CRR, of Merrimac, Mass.; Mary Corcoran of N. Weymouth, Mass.; Kristin Tucker; and Jill Karoufas. You guys were all the best.

Through this project, we have gained a better understanding of the realities of war. And through this project, we will never forget.

Michelle Keegan, RMR, CRR, is a court reporter based in Quincy, Mass. She can be reached at michellekeegan2010@hotmail.com.

Court reporters looking to preserve veterans’ stories

KVUE in Austin, Texas, posted a story on Nov. 10 about the efforts of the Texas Court Reporters Association to collect and record veterans stories for the Veterans History Project, which is housed by the Library of Congress.

Read more.

NCRA represented at HUD’s 2019 Veterans Day ceremony

NCRA staff members John Dripps, CPA, CAE, Vice President of Finance and Human Resources; Jocelynn Moore, Director State Government Relations; Annemarie Roketenetz, Director of Communications and Marketing; and Jill Parker Landsman, Development Relations Manager for the National Court Reporters Foundation, attended the 2019 Veterans Day Ceremony hosted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Nov. 7. The ceremony, themed “Honoring Our Veterans, Past, Present, & Future,” also celebrated the work of the agency’s Veterans Affinity Group (VAG), which supports an array of programs ranging from housing to training for U.S. veterans. HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson and Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. Ronald J. Shurer, II, were among the speakers. NCRF is hoping to partner with the agency’s VAG on collecting materials for the Library of Congress Veterans History Project.

Shurer is a former U.S. Army Special Forces staff sergeant and medic. As a senior medical sergeant during the Battle of Shok Valley in Afghanistan in April 2008, he and his team were attacked by an enemy force of more than 200 fighters. Shurer fought for more than an hour to reach part of his unit, killing several insurgents along the way. He was initially awarded a Silver Star for this action, but in 2016 The Pentagon upgraded this recognition to a Medal of Honor. He received the latter honor in a White House ceremony on Oct. 1, 2018.

In his remarks, Shurer shared how being awarded the Medal of Honor made him realize that he needed to share his story with others because it provided him with a platform to help those before him who served and after him who serve, to understand that “we are all called to service in one way or another.”

“It is my responsibility to share my story and to give people a tiny glimpse of the job of veterans. I do it because it’s the right thing to do, and we are all responsible to recognize what they do,” Shurer said.

In his remarks, Carson thanked all veterans and noted that, as Americans, it is because of them that the United States is truly the land of opportunities.

“One percent of our population defends freedom for the remaining 99 percent. Veterans Day is a reminder to us all to thank those who have risked their lives and dedicated their lives to keeping the freedoms we hold near and dear,” he said.

Stenograph partners with NCRF to sponsor new student scholarship

The National Court Reporters Foundation is pleased to announce that nominations are being solicited for Stenograph’s Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, a new scholarship that honors the memory of Milton H. Wright, Stenograph’s founder.   Students from NCRA-approved reporter education programs are encouraged to apply for the merit-based two-year award, which is worth up to $5,000 per year and will include use of a student writer and software.

“Stenograph is proud to sponsor the newly created Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship,” said Stenograph President Anir Dutta. “We believe that by investing in our students and future students, through the NCRA’s A to Z Program, that we will positively impact the direction of this industry. It is an honor to be able to give back in this way.” 

This scholarship is offered through the National Court Reporters Foundation. Students must meet the eligibility requirements and submit the completed documentation listed below to qualify for the scholarship. Notification of the MHW Memorial Scholarship is sent each November to all NCRA-approved court reporting programs.

Applications being accepted through Jan. 21, 2020. 

Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for the Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, students must meet the criteria below: 

  • Attend an NCRA-approved court reporting program
  • Have completed an NCRA A to Z ® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program
  • Have received an NCRA A to Z ® Certificate of Completion
  • Have attained an exemplary academic record (3.5 GPA or above)
  • Have passed one skills test writing 80-120 words per minute at the time of submission 

Document requirements

The following documents are required to be submitted for application:

  • Speed verification form
  • A copy of the student’s most recent transcript
  • A two-page, double-spaced essay responding to the following question: “Describe the role of technology in the future of reporting.”

Click here for more information or to access the application for the Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship.

“Stenograph’s commitment to the future of the court reporting and captioning professions is reflected in the company’s generous support of the Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, and NCRF and NCRA are honored to share this common goal with them,” said NCRA Senior Director of Education and Certification Cynthia Bruce Andrews.  

For more information on the Milton H. Wright Memorial Scholarship, please contact the Education Department at schools@ncra.org

Retired NCRA member donates to A to Z Scholarship fund

Retired NCRA member Pamela Spangler Reis recently donated to the NCRA A to Z® Scholarship program.  

Chair of the NCRF Board of Trustees Tami Keenan, FAPR, RPR, CPE, Battle Creek, Mich., said: “It’s through the gifts of people such as Pamela Spangler Reis that we will be able to make this program a success.”

Reis worked as a court reporter in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“Through my entire career I relied on NCRA, [the Ohio Court Reporters Association], and STAR for further education as well as mentoring, which was such an invaluable resource,” Reis said. “I have so many great memories of friendships formed over the years.”

“I saw my first murder trial when I was 14 and was doing some summer filing for a common pleas court reporter,” she said. “It seemed like I was watching a Perry Mason show. In fact, it’s the only murder trial (one of many) where I remember all the details from beginning to end. When I was 19 and being tutored by a court reporter, I became a typist for a legally blind court reporter to help finance my way through court reporting school. I was hoping to become a court reporter to finance my way through college to become an attorney. I was a court reporter for 40 years. Thirty-three and a half of those years I owned the firm of Spangler Reporting Services, Inc.”

The scholarship supported by Reis’s donation will go to a student who has completed an NCRA A to Z Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program and is enrolled in a court reporting program.

“I am so proud to have been part of this incredible profession,” Reis said.

Voices of veterans captured by reporters, Boy Scout

By Jill Parker Landsman

Phoebe Moorhead, one of the participating veterans, and Eagle Scout candidate Eli Brown.
Photo cred.: Richard Carman

Recognizing our veterans’ service to our nation is a priority to court reporters who are passionate about giving back. Boy Scouts want to give back, too.

Combine the desire to give back between court reporters and a focused Eagle Scout candidate and great things happen. That occurred between NCRA member Phoebe Moorhead, other Utah court reporters, and Eagle Scout candidate Eli Brown.

“We all have stories to tell, most especially our veterans,” said NCRA Interim Executive Director Dave Wenhold. “Our Foundation participates in the Veterans History Project, so that we can allow others to learn and understand the difficult journey that our veterans experienced. We treasure experiences and the work that Phoebe, her team, and Eli have done.”

Raised by parents who are deaf, NCRA member Phoebe Moorhead, RPR, CRR, has served in various leadership positions during her freelance court reporting career. Excited about being a part of the Veterans History Project, she spearheaded the summer transcriptions of 20 veteran stories.

“I first learned of the Veterans History Project when Debbie Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, current NCRA Vice President, reached out to Utah reporters and asked for volunteers to attend the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) conference in Salt Lake City. [We were to] transcribe the interviews of our deaf and hard-of-hearing veterans,” Moorhead said. “I had the privilege of providing CART during the interview for the veteran, who happened to be the HLAA president.”

Researching the right Eagle Scout project was daunting for Utah Boy Scout Eli Brown, as he wasn’t finding an idea he liked. His search took place while his school planned its annual Veteran’s Day assembly, he explained. “During the assembly, every veteran present was given the chance to introduce him or herself,” Brown said. “Hearing about their sacrifices, I knew I had to help preserve their stories. This was the inspiration behind my project.”

Thanks to the resourcefulness of Eli’s stepfather, Eli was soon in touch with a support team to help achieve his Eagle Scout goals of recording veterans’ oral histories.

Brown said: “My stepdad, Richard Carman, told me about the Veterans History Project. He suggested that I contact NCRF and ask if there was anyone interested in collaborating. I sent NCRF an email through the ‘contact us’ link on the Utah [Court Reporters Association] website. Up until this point, I hadn’t had a lot of success recruiting help for my project, so when Mrs. Moorhead replied within a few hours, with an excited ‘Yes!’ I knew I was on the right track!”

[Ed. Note: Richard Carman is one of the founders of RealtimeCoach.]

The scout, veterans, and court reporters met at a Veterans of Foreign Wars monthly meeting that took place at a restaurant during the summer. Moorhead’s court reporter team proudly stepped up to transcribe oral histories in person and worked on recorded ones after the event.

One oral history version was a standout, she explained: “What a privilege and honor to listen to and transcribe the interviews of the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country,” she said. “As part of this project, Eli interviewed my husband, who served in the Marine Corps. I’ve never been able to properly convey my gratitude for my husband’s service until now. Signing my name at the end of the transcript of his interview and submitting it to the Library of Congress for preservation until the end of time was the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Capturing the historical essence of the Veterans Oral History project was important to Brown.

“Through this experience, I learned that there is more to people than meets the eye,” he said.

“I was fortunate enough to be able to interview an old family friend. I had known him for some 10-plus years, but I had no idea of the horrors he went through while he was serving our country. If I hadn’t interviewed him, I might never have known what he went through.”

NCRA members have been listening and taking down veterans’ stories since NCRF partnered with the Library of Congress in 2003 to have court reporters transcribe veterans’ stories from their collection of now more than 100,000.

Jill Parker Landsman is the National Court Reporters Foundation Manager. For more information about the Veterans History Project, email jlandsman@ncra.org or call 703-584-9052.

Turn your intentions into a National Court Reporter Foundation donation

By Tami Keenan

December 3 is Giving Tuesday, meant to highlight giving after all the hoopla and noise that surround Black Friday and Cyber Monday. On Giving Tuesday, NCRF urges members to give back to the profession by donating to our Foundation, by becoming an Angel, by donating thoughtful tributes, joining the Legacy Society, or by simply giving a one-time donation.

The holiday season fills people with good tidings. Often this time of year, they open up their pockets to give presents, toss loose change in the buckets (think Salvation Army and bell ringers), and participate in an Angel Tree or donation opportunities made possible by charities and their praiseworthy missions.

Here’s my question to you: Why is giving only limited to one day a year? NCRF provides avenues for members to give every day! If you become an Angel, you can register for an automatic monthly payment through our Mobile Cause platform. Just text NCRFAngel to 41444 and then follow the prompts.

Whether you choose to donate only once or sign up for regular contributions, all of us from the Foundation appreciate your generosity and support of our mission.

Think about it: Hasn’t our court reporting profession been good to you? We should always feel the need to give back to our profession. It allows us to have a full, rewarding, and satisfying career. What a great journey we are all on! Court reporting gives us the chance to learn something new every day. We are blessed to have the ability to write history – perhaps literally via captioning on television or to report in the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives. I am sure you have your special court reporting moments.

More importantly, that witness who fell in a parking lot or slipped on steps — that’s their history. It’s probably more important to him or her than it is to an expert who would opine for whichever side is paying them. In addition to all our benefits from this challenging career, our industry pays us generously. Now, you have the chance to give back to your profession.

I’m the current Chair of NCRF so, of course, I’m going to ask you to donate to your Foundation, our Foundation. You can also give back to your profession by donating your time to your state association or NCRA. The A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program needs more volunteers, and many leaders also need steno machines to make the program work for our many eager participants.

Do you have an old machine gathering dust in the basement? Contact your state association to see if it can be of use. I know it can. NCRF has already offered its first round of scholarships to court reporting students who have decided to move on to court reporting programs after completing an A to Z program, and we are looking forward to awarding more scholarships to this growing group in the spring.

Don’t isolate your giving to one day a year. Give all year. Give today. Our trustees will ensure that your donation helps those who are dedicated to our industry who might need a helping hand.

Tami Keenan, FAPR, RPR, CPE, Battle Creek, Mich., is the Chair of the National Court Reporters Foundation Board of Trustees.

NCRA member’s decision to donate winnings to support A to Z was ‘no-brainer’

Debi Meredith, RPR, CRR

NCRA member Debi Meredith, RPR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from Missoula, Mont., recently donated her winnings from a 50/50 raffle held at the 2019 Montana Court Reporters Association annual convention. The winnings went to the NCRA A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand program.

According to Meredith, the decision was easy.

“Well, it started off with my desire to donate anything I might win to our newest student, so I asked her which gift she would prefer. She said she really didn’t need anything, so I figured I’d just put all my raffle tickets into the 50/50 pot and donate it to the A to Z program,” Meredith said.

Information about Meredith’s generous donation of her $205 winnings was shared with the JCR Weekly by Cindy L. Isaacsen, RPR, an official court reporter from Shawnee, Kan., and a member of NCRA’s Board of Directors. Isaacsen was attending the state convention as a speaker and NCRA representative.

“For me, it was a no-brainer. It cost me next to nothing for the raffle tickets. I’m glad it was such a nice haul! It’s so important for all of us to keep this honorable profession alive,” added Meredith. Like I heard Cindy Isaacsen say several times, ‘It’s the best job you’ve never heard of.'”

Meredith, who has also worked as an official court reporter, said she has loved every minute of her 30-year career. During that time, she has also captioned for the University of Montana graduation ceremonies, for ADA seminars, and currently provides realtime on a regular basis for herself and attorneys. Nearing retirement, along with many of her colleagues in Montana, Meredith said she understands the importance of getting new students and reporters to fill the current void in the profession.

“My daughter is also a court reporter in Montana for 15 years now. It’s so nice to see the young reporters taking over the reins of the association. Anything we can do to further our court reporting and educate the general public about this great profession is of paramount importance,” she added.

As for learning about the court reporting profession herself, Meredith attributes that to her having worked with a woman in California who was going to court reporting school in Santa Rosa. “We started talking and it sounded like a great profession. Two years later, I was reporting. I’ve never regretted my decision.”

NCRF Student Intern Scholarship Closes Dec. 6

The National Court Reporters Foundation is accepting applications for the Student Intern Scholarship from Oct. 1 through December 6, 2019. The scholarship is a $1,000 award, given annually to two high-achieving court reporting students who have completed the internship portion of their education. Recipients are nominated by their schools. This scholarship is open to students who are current NCRA members from any court reporting program. A full list of criteria and more information can be found here.