Slate of NCRA nominees

NCRA’s Nominating Committee announced the following nominees to fill the open seats on the NCRA Board of Directors for the 2020-2021 year. The slate includes nominations for President-Elect, Vice President, Secretary-Treasurer, and two Director seats for three-year terms.

President

Christine Phipps, RPR, North Palm Beach, Fla.

Christine Phipps, RPR

Christine Phipps is a court reporter with 27 years of experience. She owns Phipps Reporting, Inc., headquartered in West Palm Beach, Fla. She holds the national professional certification of Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) and the Realtime Systems Administrator certificate. She is also a licensed court reporter in New Jersey and Tennessee and is an Eclipse software trainer.

At the national level, Phipps has co-chaired NCRA’s Technology Committee and Freelance Community of Interest Committee and served on the Association’s Strategic Alliance Task Force, its Education Content and Vendor Task Force committees. Phipps participated in the rewrite of NCRA’s Deposition Handbook, is a frequent contributor to the JCR, and a speaker at conventions. She has also served as a Director for NCRA and as Vice President and President-Elect.

She is the recipient of a number of business awards, including Woman of Outstanding Leadership by the International Women’s Leadership Association and Most Enterprising Women of the Year by Enterprising Women magazine. In 2016, she earned the Individual Member Award for the inaugural JCR Awards, and in 2017 she was named South Florida District Small Business Woman-Owned Person of the Year. Her firm was included in Inc. magazine’s Fastest Growing Companies in America every year since 2014, achieving Honor Roll status in 2018 for being on the list for five consecutive years.

President-elect

Debra A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, Woodland, Utah

Debra A. Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC

Debra A. Dibble is a 30-year court reporter veteran who began her career working in the judicial arena in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Memphis, Tenn. She holds the nationally recognized professional credentials of Registered Diplomate Reporter (RDR), Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR), and Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC), and she has qualified in the National Speed and National Realtime competitions multiple times. She also holds the Realtime Systems Administrator Certification and has provided broadcast captioning and CART services for more than a decade.

At the state level, Dibble served on the Utah Court Reporters Board of Directors for 10 years, serving as the president for two years, and receiving the organization’s Distinguished Service Award in 2010.

At the national level, Dibble has served as an NCRA Chief Examiner, as a delegate to the National Committee of State Associations from 2008 to 2012, and on numerous NCRA committees. Dibble has served on the NCRA’s Board of Directors for eight years, including a three-year term as Secretary- Treasurer. She has also served as a presenter at the national and state levels.

In addition to earning her Utah CSR, she is also certified in California, Nevada, and Texas and has been a grand jury reporter in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

Dibble also served as the Secretary-Treasurer of the National Court Reporters Foundation (NCRF) for three years. For the past year plus, she has been leading the team dedicated to turning the vision of a new professionals training program sponsored by the Foundation, now known as NCRF Career Launcher, into a reality.

Vice president

Meredith A. Bonn, RPR, CRR, Webster, N.Y.

Meredith A. Bonn, RPR, CRR

Meredith A. Bonn, a graduate of Alfred State College, Alfred, N.Y., has been a court reporter since 1990. She was named official senior court reporter in 2007 for the Seventh Judicial District in the New York State court system where she is assigned to the Rochester courthouse. From 2000 to 2007, she served as an official court reporter assigned to City and Family Court. She worked as a freelance court reporter from 1990

to 2000.  She also holds the New York State Certified Shorthand Reporter and New York

State Court Reporters Association (NYSCRA) Realtime Court Reporter certifications.

She is a current member of NYSCRA and served as a member of its Board for six years. She is a current member of the StenoCAT Users Group. Bonn is also actively involved with promoting the court reporting profession to students and to the general public. She is a frequent presenter for the Careers in the Courthouse program and a mentor to several students. Bonn is also the creator and presenter of the Power of the Positive Attitude presentation and the coordinator of the NCRA A to Z® Intro  to Steno Machine Shorthand program in the Western New York area.

On the national level, Bonn has served for three years as a Director and serves on

the Finance, Policies & Procedures, and the NCRA A to Z committees.

Secretary-treasurer

Kristin M. Anderson, RPR, San Antonio, Texas

Kristin M. Anderson, RPR

Kristin M. Anderson is an official court reporter for Bexar County Civil District Court. She holds the nationally recognized professional certification of Registered Professional Reporter (RPR). With more than 20 years of experience, she has worked both as a freelance reporter in Kansas and Missouri and as an official court reporter for Illinois and Kansas.

Anderson worked for the U.S. District Court Western District of Texas from 2013 through 2017 and has her Federal Certified Realtime Reporter (FCRR) designation with the United States Court Reporters Association (USCRA).

At the national level, Anderson is a past chair of the National Committee of State

Associations and served on that committee in various capacities from 2006 through 2014. She also served on the Veterans Liaison Committee of NCRA’s New Professionals Committee, the Membership and Telemarketing Committee, and the Steno Opportunities in the Courts Task Force.

At the state level, Anderson has served in numerous positions and on various com- mittees for the Kansas Court Reporters Association, including as president for two terms. She served on the Texas Court Reporters Association Convention and Ethics Committees in 2015-2016. Anderson is a member of the Bexar County Court Reporters Association, Texas Court Reporters Association, Texas Depositions Reporters Association, the Society for the Technological Advancement of Reporting (better known as STAR), and USCRA.

Director

Jason T. Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, Fort Collins, Colo.

Jason T. Meadors, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC

Jason T. Meadors began his career in court reporting while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1975-1978. He has worked as a freelance court reporter and an official reporter and has owned his own firm since 1989. Meadors holds the nationally recognized professional certifications of Registered Professional Reporter (RPR), Certified Realtime Reporter (CRR), and Certified Realtime Captioner (CRC). He is also a Fellow of the Academy of Professional Reporters (FAPR).

During his career, Meadors has reported in nearly two dozen states, as well as in China, Colombia, Ecuador, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, South Korea, and Taiwan.

At the national level, Meadors has served on numerous NCRA committees, as well as on the Board of Directors and as Secretary-Treasurer. He is also a contributor to the JCR magazine and has presented seminars at the national and state levels.

His volunteer service has included numerous positions with the leadership of the Colorado Court Reporters Association, including as president. He also served on numerous committees as a member and or chair. In 2000, Meadors was awarded the association’s Distinguished Service Award. He also was the recipient of its 1996, 2001, and 2008 Presidential Appreciation Award.

He and his wife, Sherri, have been married for 46 years. They have three children and six grandchildren. Meadors is also an avid writer and photographer.

Director

Cathy Penniston, RPR, CRI, Waukee, Iowa

Cathy L. Penniston, RPR, CRI

Cathy L. Penniston is a teacher and broadcast captioner from Waukee, Iowa. Penniston spent 30 years working as an official court reporter for the state of Iowa before receiving a realtime cap- tioning training grant and transitioning into a remote television broadcast captioning career. She has also worked as a freelance court reporter and a CART provider. Penniston currently teaches reporting classes at the Des Moines Area Community College in Newton, Iowa. She also works as an independent broadcast captioner.

Penniston has served as president, vice president, and secretary of the Iowa Court Reporters Association. She has volunteered multiple times to assist with the annual National Court Reporters Foundation phone-a-thon fundraising campaign and the Veterans History Project.

Penniston is the recipient of the Roy Voelker Memorial Award for Distinguished Service for the court reporting profession of the state of Iowa. She is also the recipient of the Indian Hills Com- munity College Vision Award Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014.

Penniston holds a master’s degree in Education from Clarke University, a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Iowa Wesleyan College, an associate’s degree from Indian Hills Community College, and an associate’s degree in Court Reporting from the American Institute of Business. She holds the national professional certifications of Registered Professional Reporter (RPR) and Certified Reporting Instructor (CRI).

At the national level, Penniston has served on numerous NCRA committees and enjoys leading the NCRA A to Z® Intro to Steno Machine Shorthand sessions. She has served as a member of the NCRA Board of Directors since 2018.

NCRA member turned novelist inspired by court reporting experience

Andrea J. Johnson

NCRA member Andrea J. Johnson is a court reporter turned freelance entertainment writer for the women’s lifestyle website Popsugar. This love for insider gossip has inspired her to take real-life headlines and turn them into mind-bending mysteries. The Victoria Justice Series is a perfect example of this dynamic as it uses Johnson’s legal background to explore what would happen if a trial stenographer took the law into her own hands. The JCR Weekly recently reached out to her to find out how her court reporting career has helped inspire her stories.

JCR | Where are you from originally?

AJ | I’m originally from the Chesapeake Bay area, specifically the Maryland portion of the Delmarva Peninsula. The area’s coastal setting is quite idyllic, so I’ve set my mystery in that region as well — but on the Delaware side of things since that’s where I spent the most time working as a court reporter.

JCR | How did you make the switch from court reporter to author?

AJ | Becoming an author is something I’ve wanted to do since I was 8 years old, but I’d put it off for decades because writing for a living didn’t seem practical. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I originally became a court reporter: I thought I’d get all the joys of working with syntax and editing without the stress of creating original content. But when my mom was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, she urged me not to play life safe, so I decided to get my graduate degree in creative writing and pursue the career that had eluded me all those years.

JCR | Have you always enjoyed writing?

AJ | Yes, I’ve always enjoyed the idea of writing but not necessarily the practice of writing. My first memory of wanting to be a writer goes back to the third grade. I would finish a book and want to extend the life of the characters so that I could continue to live in that world. Sometimes I’d even start writing a new chapter to the story — a form of old school fan fiction, I suppose — but I’d quickly get discouraged by the discipline it took to shape my ideas. It wasn’t until I grew up and sought guidance on the nuances of story structure that I began to have long-lasting fun with writing.

JCR | What motivated you to develop the Victoria Justice series?

AJ | The character of Victoria Justice has lived in my brain since 2006 although back then I didn’t know what to do with her. She was my reaction to a call for action stars for the reality series Who Wants to Be a Superhero? presented by Stan Lee. The premise of the show was for contestants to create characters who could become comic book heroes. In my mind, what better hero could there be than a court stenographer who seeks to undo bad verdicts through vigilante justice? But at that time, I hadn’t discovered my literary passion, so I couldn’t take advantage of the epiphany. Cut to several years later. I’ve just left my job as a stenographer to pursue writing, and I am searching for a novel idea. So I tweak Victoria to make her more human than hero and match her up with highly fictionalized snippets of real-life court cases. And, voila, the Victoria Justice Court Reporting Mystery series was born.

JCR | What influence did your experience as a court reporter have on your developing the character Victoria Justice?

AJ | Just about everything I’ve experienced as a reporter has been crammed into this series — from the use of long vowels in briefs to the secret joys of AudioSync — but the thing that’s had the most influence on Victoria’s characterization is the outward perception of the profession by those unfamiliar with what we do. She’s often ridiculed for being the one person in the courtroom whose job it is to be seen, not heard. People wag their fingers at her, call her an overpaid notetaker, and assume she’s not very smart. I played into that a bit with the physicality as well by making her short and meek but inside she has a big heart and tons of snark. And while the thrust of the series is about solving murders, an equally large portion of it is about Victoria finding her voice and learning to stand up for herself. In a way, she becomes the town’s last bastion for morality by using the profession’s tenants of accuracy, honesty, and neutrality in the face of the law to claim her space in the world.

JCR | Is the main character based on anyone in particular?

AJ | Crime author Ross Macdonald, known as Kenneth Millar in real life, wrote a popular essay called “The Writer as Detective Hero,” theorizing that mystery writers tend to create sleuths that are a reflection of their personalities whether conscious of this or not. While I hate to go against tradition, I can honestly say Victoria isn’t a reflection of me or anyone I know. However, she does carry my passion for the profession.

JCR | Poetic Justice is your first in the series; correct? What inspired this storyline?

AJ | Yes, Poetic Justice is the first in the series. The inspiration for the storyline comes from a single moment of trial as reported upon by a Delaware newspaper. While testifying on the stand, a police officer opens his drug evidence envelope only to find that the illegal substances have been replaced with over-the-counter medications. I used that imagery as the launching point of the story, but what happens thereafter is a product of my imagination. After all, I want the official court reporter, not the lawyers or the attorneys, to act as the focus and sole narrator of the tale.

JCR | How many novels do you plan for the series?

AJ | I think the concept behind this series is open-ended enough that it could go on forever, but I have always conceived of it as 12 books — like 12 jurors. That’s a nice round number with a large enough arc that Victoria can mature over time and hit professional or personal milestones like starting her own deposition company or falling in love.

JCR | What advice would you give others considering a career down the writing path?

AJ | Do your homework. You don’t have to spend tons of money on graduate school like I did, but you should read as much as you can about the types of books you’d like to write. Join membership organizations that match your writing interest like Mystery Writers of America or Romance Writers of America. Take a class through one of those organizations (you can even do so without being a member). Ask a published author to be your mentor. Never stop searching for knowledge and researching the field. Just like the court reporting profession, you have to study, practice, and keep your skills sharp. Writers might not have CEUs but they have CNEIs — a commitment to constant never-ending improvement.

JCR | How long did you work as a court reporter?

AJ | I was lucky enough to complete school and gain my state certification in two and a half years. I worked in the field for seven.

JCR | Did you work as an official, freelancer, captioner?

AJ | I worked as a deposition reporter in the state of California for two years and as an official reporter in Delaware for five years.

JCR | How did you learn about the court reporting profession?

AJ | The first time I heard about court reporting was in high school since it’s a profession that always shows up on those “Ten Lucrative Careers You Didn’t Know About” lists. However, I didn’t consider becoming one until decades later when I was searching for a career where I didn’t have to adhere to the typical nine-to-five work week.

JCR | Where did you go to court reporting school?

AJ | I attended Bryan College School of Court Reporting, in Los Angeles, Calif. — this was back before they moved that program online — but I only stayed with them through my 180-level proficiency tests. After that, I transferred to Downey Adult School, in Downey, Calif., to finish my speed training in preparation for the California certification exam. While I wouldn’t recommend switching schools at such a crucial point in the program, I felt comfortable doing so because I already had my bachelor’s degree. Like many people, I came to court reporting as a second career, so gaining speed was the toughest part for me. Luckily, the gamble paid off, and I passed my licensing exam on the first attempt.

Johnson has also written several articles on the craft of writing for websites, such as LitReactor, Submittable, Funds for Writers, and DIY MFA. When she isn’t developing her stories, Johnson enjoys cuddling up with a piping hot mug of ginger tea and poring over the latest supermarket tabloids. She can be reached at andrea@ajthenovelist.com. Read an excerpt from Poetic Justice here.

New Professional Profile: Grace Kwahk

Grace Kwahk

By Molly Cooper

Grace Kwahk is an ambitious young professional who earned her license in 2019 after studying at South Coast College in Orange, Calif. She made her mark very early on when, as a student, she was invited to join the captioning team at the one and only Academy Awards three years in a row. Kwahk is embracing her career as a freelance deposition reporter in the Orange County and Los Angeles areas and has a promising future ahead of her.

JCR | How did you feel both going into your first assignment as a reporter and coming out of it?

GK | I expected to be really nervous going into my first job, but I was actually surprised by how calm and prepared I felt the night before. I got to the job an hour and a half before it was scheduled to start, waited in my car for a bit to talk to my mentors, and walked in the building. I was so disappointed when the receptionist told me the job had canceled in the morning.

My actual first official job was different. I was so nervous the night before the job! I remember I didn’t get much sleep because I was excited/nervous of what the day would bring. I woke up at 5 a.m. to get to my West L.A. job, and I remember waiting in the car and feeling so anxious. Fast forward seven hours, and I was done. It was a long and exhausting day, but I felt great. Driving back home in traffic couldn’t even bring me down from the high I was experiencing from doing my first job.

JCR | What is a current goal? What is a long-term goal?

GK | Right now, I’m working toward getting my RPR. I initially had planned on getting ready for it right away, but I just got caught up with working. I’m taking advantage of this downtime during this pandemic to get back into test-taking mode.

A long-term goal would be eventually feeling comfortable enough to provide realtime.

JCR | Do you have any advice for reporting students?

GK | We’ve all heard this before: Don’t give up. We’ve all been there and know how frustrating it is to be stuck at a speed. If you feel like practicing isn’t getting you anywhere, take a little break and then get right back to it again. Practicing is only going to bring you closer to passing that one test.

Another thing I would like to add is to sit out as much as you possibly can. I honestly feel like the reason why I felt so prepared to work after I passed the CSR was because I sat out with my mentors and friends as much as I could. Putting yourself in those real-life situations and getting as much exposure as possible really makes it so much easier to do it on your own when the time comes.

JCR | What’s something that you’ve learned in the field that you didn’t learn in school?

GK | I think speaking up when you can’t hear someone well is the most important thing to do. We don’t really do that when we’re in school, but when you’re working, it is your job to preserve the record and you have to be able to hear what people are saying in order to do that. 

JCR | Where’s your favorite place to proofread jobs and why?

GK | My favorite place to proof would either be proofing on the sofa with my little furchild or in my bed, again, with my furbaby. If I’m proofing right after a long day, then I’ll proof while I’m standing at my desk just so I don’t spend all day sitting down.

JCR | During the stay-at-home orders, what did you miss most about deposition work?

GK | I never thought I would miss driving to West L.A., but I do. I miss getting ready for work, putting on professional clothes, and going to Starbucks for my second morning coffee. It’s also so much fun meeting new people and exchanging memorable depo stories.

JCR | What’s something that makes you proud to be a stenographer?

GK | I am really proud to be a part of a group of amazing reporters. No one else can do what we do. We play a very crucial role in the legal field. Our ability to take down verbatim testimony can never be replaced.

Molly Cooper, RPR, is a freelance court reporter in Fullerton, Calif. She can be reached at Mollycoop@rocketmail.com.

New Professional Profile: Douglas Armstrong

By Lauren Lawrence

Douglas Armstrong, RPR

Douglas Armstrong, RPR, is a freelance court reporter in Seattle, Wash. He is a 2018 graduate of the Green River College court reporting program and is the current chair of the school’s Court Reporting and Captioning Advisory Committee. He loves opera and animals and spends way too much time thinking about Academy Awards trivia. 

JCR | Why did you choose to become a court reporter?

DA | When my job of managing 200 employees in a pair of hair salons was eliminated without notice or ceremony after seven years, I didn’t know what I’d do next. I happened to read an article about the need for court reporters and the connection many reporters had to playing musical instruments, particularly piano, which I had played my whole life. I was a music major the first time I went to college. I contacted Green River College, met with the wonderful Lori Rapozo and Sidney Weldele-Wallace who sold me on the profession, and was enrolled within days. The rest is history.

JCR | Do you have any advice for reporting students?

DA | Hang on and then keep hanging on. Quitting is not an option. You can always switch to decaf after you graduate. Failed tests do not mean that you’re not getting better all the time. Start and end each practice session with something you know you’re good at. Associate with students and reporters who love what they’re doing and want to succeed; stay away from those who complain, make excuses, or demotivate others. Practice sometimes with distractions, like a rock band in the background (it happens in the real world) or writing to material where the speaker is yelling or crying (it definitely happens). Approach adversity as an opportunity to improve yourself and your skills and not something to fear. Picture yourself laughing a few years from now at what scares you now. When you think you’ve practiced enough, practice more.

JCR | What’s your “can’t live without” item in your steno bag? 

DA | I use public transportation whenever possible and deliberately travel as light as possible. I carry a briefcase-style bag with my Luminex and a backpack holding my lightweight Lenovo ThinkPad and only the essential accessories. A constantly replenished stash of protein bars and vegan jerky have definitely proven to be lifesavers on jobs that go straight through lunch.

JCR | What was life like as a student?

DA | I started school at age 33 and had to work full-time. I managed all aspects of a small, though very busy, vegan grocery store by day and did my online classes, homework, and practice by night. It was by far the most productive period of my life and also the most satisfying. I told myself often that the time would be passing anyway and that the hard work I was putting in was a gift I was able to give my future self. I was right, and there hasn’t been a day since where I haven’t felt immense gratitude for the opportunities opened to me by those years of effort.

JCR | What was your biggest challenge as a new reporter?

DA | Finding and defining my own voice as a reporter was an unexpected challenge. There’s the voice on paper, of making formatting, grammatical, and punctuation decisions where there seem to be as many options as there are reporters. There’s the voice in the deposition, learning to coolly and confidently interact with attorneys and experts to get what I need to do my job with minimal disruption to theirs. There’s the voice as a businessperson, advocating for myself in finding answers to unexpected questions on everything from taxes to software functionality. I’ve definitely found that what is the preferred solution for others doesn’t necessarily have to be the best answer for me, and that’s OK. I’m a perfectionist and I like absolutes, but I have had to learn to be comfortable with ambiguity and flexibility.

JCR | What’s the coolest experience you have had working in the profession?

DA | I’ve been a guest speaker a few times at the law school of a local university on panels where I was the only reporter among several attorneys. Surprisingly, I got the majority of the student questions from folks who were fascinated by our profession and how we work our magic. I also got the chance every reporter dreams of, to tell a room full of future lawyers the dos and don’ts of a great record from our perspective, like thinking a question all the way through before starting and stopping seven times midsentence or not interjecting an “OK” after every three words of a deponent’s answer.

JCR | What do you love about your career?

DA | I love meeting new people every day and hearing about careers, processes, lifestyles, and experiences I might not otherwise be exposed to. I love writing new voices and unfamiliar terms and phrases, as well as the daily challenge of adapting to and anticipating the unique patterns and rhythms of each job. I love watching smart people argue and not having to choose a side. I love working in a prison one day and a surgeon’s office the next. I love the flexibility of a freelance schedule and the editing time at home with my dog and cat. I love the way processing words through my fingers on a funny little machine tickles my brain and that I get paid for that.

JCR | If you weren’t a court reporter, what career would you be interested in pursuing?

DA | I’ve always felt I’d make an excellent monarch. If the opportunity ever comes along, I’ll consider it. Until then, I’ll keep reporting.

Lauren Lawrence, RPR, is from Kansas City, Mo.

New Professional Spotlight: Meghan Minnick


Meghan Minnick with her husband, Clayton, and their dog, Louie

By Emily Bergren

Meghan Minnick grew up in Ottawa, Kan., and is now a freelance reporter living in Kansas City, Mo.  She honed her determination and self-discipline to the fullest while attending an online program called Court Reporting and Captioning at Home (CRAH).  She has been an NCRA member from the time she was a student.  She is newly certified, having received her RPR this past fall, and has a real passion for the profession.

JCR | Do you have any advice for reporting students?

MM| Don’t play the comparison game! No one’s court reporting journey looks the same.  Also, practice every day.  If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up, just don’t miss two. 

JCR | What’s your “can’t live without” item in your steno bag?

MM| My depobook! Yes, I’m still using paper. I love having names, case information, spellings, dates, orders, and business cards all in one spot. I have enough to worry about without having to track down all that information.

JCR | What is your biggest challenge as a new reporter?

MM| Learning how to be bold and to stand up for myself and the record in depositions.  I am a very shy and soft-spoken person, and it is against my nature to interrupt.  But I learned very quickly that it is absolutely necessary in order to create an accurate record.

JCR | How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?

MM| I give myself an allotted amount of time to work, and I try to eliminate all distractions (mainly scrolling on my cell phone) during that allotted time in order to get as much work done as possible. I then put a hard stop at 5 o’clock so I can enjoy the rest of my evening with family.  Of course, there are always unavoidable circumstances that prevent this from being feasible every time, but it helps on most days. It is so easy to continue to work all through the evening just to “get it done,” but then you miss valuable “life” time.

JCR | What do you like to do when you’re not reporting?

MM| I love spending quality time with my husband and my dog.  I also paint landscapes, make earrings, and play the ukulele.

JCR | What do you love about your career?

MM| Every day is different; different testimony, buildings, cities, and people. I am never bored!

Emily Bergren, RPR, CRR, is a freelancer in Kansas City, Mo.

NCRA member is Ironman World Championship competitor

Ashley Zaccaro

NCRA members are known to be driven to succeed in their professional areas of work, but often they are also just as driven to succeed in their chosen hobbies and activities outside of work. Case in point is NCRA member Ashley Zaccaro, a 25-year-old official court reporter who resides in Brooklyn, N.Y. Originally from New Jersey, Zaccaro is also a certified yoga instructor, a published writer, a fur mom to two beautiful cats, and a bride-to-be with a wedding planned for October. But that’s not all. In between work and her other activities, Zaccaro, who took up running in 2011, is also an Ironman World Championship competitor.

The Ironman World Championship is a series of triathlon races that include a swim, a bike ride, and a run. The event is grueling, requiring competitors to cover a total of 70.3 miles over the course of the three legs of the race for a half Ironman and 140.6 miles for a full Ironman race.

The JCR Weekly recently caught up with her to find out more about what motivates her and what it’s like to be a world championship competitor.

JCR | How did you get involved with the Ironman World Championship?

AZ| I was training for my second full distance race when I was selected to go to the 2019 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii as the 2019 Women for Tri Inspirational Woman of the Year! Women for Tri is a nonprofit organization within the Ironman Foundation, Ironman’s giveback initiative, which seeks to remove boundaries that keep more women from becoming involved in triathlons. Part of how they do this is through grant funding to tri clubs and organizations that are doing more to involve women.

JCR | What year did you compete, and where was it held?

AZ| I became a runner in 2011 and, within a few months, began training for my first marathon, the New Jersey Marathon in Long Branch in 2012. My first triathlon ever was a women’s-only super sprint in New Orleans, La., that my running partner and I did sort of on a whim in 2014. But it wasn’t until 2017 that my triathlon ‘career’ really began. I competed in the New York City Triathlon that July, my first half Ironman the following year, 2018, in Lake Placid, N.Y., and then my first full Ironman in Patagonia, Chile, in December 2018, with many races in between and since.

JCR | Was 2019 your first time competing in this championship?

AZ | It was my first time competing in the World Championship!

JCR | What did you have to do to qualify?

AZ | I believe it’s something like 95 percent of participants qualified through placing 1st, maybe 2nd or 3rd depending on the race, in their age group in one of the Ironman races the previous year. I got in through a special slot, so I did not qualify that way. I raised more than $25,000 for Women for Tri as part of my entry. My goal is to qualify the traditional way in four years, but it’s really challenging!

JCR | How did you place in the 2019 Ironman World Championship?

AZ | I finished in 13 hours, 7 minutes, and 50 seconds. I came in 1869th place out of 2446 starters, 464th out of 610 females, and 45th out of 50 in my age group.

JCR | What motivates you now?

AZ | Training and racing are extremely therapeutic to me. It is the best thing for my mental health as well as my physical health, and it’s an outlet for me to deal with the stressors in my life. It builds my self-esteem. It gives me an amazing, supportive, strong community, and it just makes me so happy. Now more than ever I am grateful to have this outlet. Even though races are getting postponed, I’m finding myself and many of my triathlete friends are used to dealing with extreme conditions and are coping pretty well with it, generally.

JCR | Was this your first time competing?

AZ |This was my second full distance race, but I believe I’ve competed in 22 triathlons total, if my count is correct.

JCR | How long did you practice for?

AZ | For a full Ironman distance race, my training load averages around 20 hours a week. The winter is “off season,” so I focus more on strength and conditioning and recouping, but I train all year round.

JCR | Describe what a typical practice day was like for you.

AZ | During the week I usually have two workouts that last an hour and a half to two hours total. This could be a 45-minute swim and 45-minute weightlifting session, an hour bike and a half-hour run, for example. Saturdays are my long bike day, followed immediately by a shorter run; that’s called a “brick,” to do a bike straight into a run. For Ironman training, my long bike ride peaks at about a seven-hour ride. Sundays are usually a long run, which peaks around three and a half hours, a short easy bike session, and a recovery swim.

JCR | What would you say to others considering competing at this level?

AZ | I think most people competing in these sorts of distances would agree there are sacrifices you have to make, and you have to love the training. It’s a lifestyle. It’s not easy. But it builds so much more than muscle. For me, it is so worth it.

JCR | Do you think your profession as a court reporter, where you have to practice every day, aided in your being disciplined to practice for this competition?

AZ | I definitely think that everyone who made it through court reporting school has accessed that same part of your brain that we use as endurance athletes. Court reporting school is so tough and unforgiving, and it can feel never-ending, but to make it through we all had to push past the desire to give up, and that is something triathletes do as well. So yes, I’d say it either aided — or maybe it just makes sense that the kind of brain that would be drawn to court reporting would also thrive in an endurance event.

JCR | What is your best event?

AZ | I was naturally the best at cycling, but much to my surprise, my run has been where I’ve placed the highest overall lately! My transitions aren’t too shabby either.

JCR | What is your favorite event and why?

AZ | Of swimming, biking, and running, it honestly depends on the day, but I love how simple running is. Throw on shoes and go.

As far as which race I’ve done which is my favorite, that’s really tough. Patagonia was the experience of a lifetime. It was an extreme 140.6 race, so the swim was in cold water, the bike was up a mountain, and the run was a trail run that also went through a small lake at mile four of the run randomly. It was such a beautiful, special experience, and I’ll love it forever.

The world championship in Hawaii was such a celebration of triathlon. The whole week, Kailua-Kona just becomes triathlete village, and it was unbeatable. Also being in Hawaii was wonderful.

Chattanooga 70.3 in Tennessee I loved more than I can really understand. It was so open and free, and as someone who lives in a city, it was a great relief.

Lahti 70.3 in Finland was cool because it started at 4 p.m. but the sun stays up until midnight. I had a pretty rough race that day, but afterward my fiancé and I stayed in a yurt. Every race is a crazy adventure.

And Lake Placid 70.3 is a beautiful course, and there’s Olympic village stuff everywhere. It’s very inspiring to be there. The morning of the race the air was 30 degrees, but the lake was 70 degrees, so it was steaming like a hot tub and one of the coolest sights.

JCR | Do you plan to compete again? If so, when?

AZ | Oh, yes! I love competing. My next race was supposed to be Florida 70.3 but that was postponed due to coronavirus. Tulsa 140.6 in Oklahoma was after that and that got postponed. I’m planning to do Steelhead 70.3, age group national championships in Milwaukee, Wis., some other local races, and my hope was to qualify this year for the 70.3 World Championship in New Zealand, but everything is up in the air right now.

JCR | How did you learn about the court reporting profession?

AZ | I was working at a real estate law firm as an administrative assistant after abruptly deciding on my first day of university that I didn’t want to go to college. I was interested in law but didn’t want to be a lawyer. I had always typed really fast as a child and never expected that skill to come in handy. And I was obsessed with the Jodi Arias trial. I discovered court reporting existed from watching that. Two years later when I was planning to move to New York City, I was deciding whether I wanted to get a full-time job there or go to school, and I went to the court reporting school to inquire more about it. When I was there, the program director told me “It’s like playing a musical instrument,” and as an avid musician in high school, that sold me. I made my decision to enroll.

JCR | What court reporting program did you graduate from?

AZ | I graduated from New York Career Institute, now known as Plaza College.

JCR | How long have you worked as a court reporter?

AZ | Just over four years.

JCR | Have you always worked as an official?

AZ | I started at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in New York as a grand jury stenographer in 2016 and went to Manhattan Family Court in 2018.

JCR | What court do you work in now?

AZ | I recently started at Manhattan Supreme Court Criminal Term, but because of the quarantine I haven’t actually begun working.

Ashely Zaccaro can be reached at ashleyczac@gmail.com.

New Professional Profile: Tatelyn Noda

Tatelyn Noda, RPR

My name is Tatelyn Noda, RPR, and I am an official court reporter for the First Judicial Circuit of Alabama. I graduated from Prince Institute in Montgomery, Ala., in 2014 and worked briefly in Alabama as a freelance reporter before moving to Miami, Fla. I continued in freelance until I accepted an officialship in August of 2018.

JCR | How did you hear about court reporting and what made you choose that career path?

TN | My mom had a friend who freelanced, and she mentioned it to me in the seventh grade. At the start of my eighth-grade year, my parents and I toured Prince Institute. I fell in love with the profession. I immediately started college after finishing high school and never looked back. I could never sufficiently repay my mom for guiding me in the right direction and for always being by my side through college, freelancing, and official reporting. 

JCR | What is your next career goal?

TN | I’m currently practicing daily for the RMR and CRR. After that, on to the RDR!

JCR | When you’re not behind your steno machine, what do you do with your free time?

TN | My husband, Carlos, and I spend all of our free time with our boys: Harrison, Everett, and Walker. We enjoy traveling, visiting family, and renovating our historical home.

JCR | How has being involved with state or national associations benefitted you?

TN | Being involved with your state and national association is key to creating long-lasting friendships within our industry. Being involved has kept me up to date on topics and advances surrounding our profession and has even helped me implement new techniques in the way that I write.

JCR | Tell us about your favorite depo and/or location you’ve worked.

TN | My favorite job was a deposition of a very well-known restaurateur. I had absolutely no idea who the deponent was until I scoped the file. Looking back, he was so humble and just an overall nice person. I will never forget that deposition. My favorite location? The Florida Keys! I would never turn down an opportunity to write in paradise! I’d always make sure to stop by and pick up a key lime pie before heading back to Miami.

JCR | After freelancing for a couple of years, what was something you had to get used to when working in your role as an official?

TN | I had to get used to the criminal testimony and domestic matters. Before becoming an official, I only dealt with civil matters. Going from white-collar disagreements to crime scene photos took a little getting used to.

JCR | Who is your mentor, and how have they helped you along the way?

TN | Renda Cornick is my steno hero. She’s a phenomenal writer, reporter, wife, mom, and friend. She never passes up an opportunity to cheer me on in my career and in my personal life. As a newer reporter, she has really been an inspiration to me.

Janet Russo has helped shape me into the reporter I am today. She took me under her wing and has taught me so much. She always made time for me when I had a question and would always look over any work I was unsure of. I am forever thankful — and grateful — for all of the time and knowledge she has shared with me.

Rhonda Hall-Breuwet, RDR, CRR, a freelancer in Lakeland, Fla., has always been there for me when it comes to all things reporting, especially Florida reporting and realtime. She really pushed me to get my certifications and has always helped me whenever needed. I dream of being on her realtime level. She is a phenomenal reporter!

JCR | Any advice for students?

TN | Strive for perfection, but please know that no one is perfect. Learn your software, retain a seasoned accountant, always be professional, and start testing for certifications as soon as possible. Be nice to everyone you meet and always wear a smile!

Angel profile: Mary Bader

Mary Bader, FAPR, RPR

The JCR Weekly regularly highlights one of the more than 100 Angels who support the National Court Reporters Foundation. This month, we profile Mary Bader, FAPR, RPR, an official court reporter from Battle Creek, Mich. Bader will soon be retiring from her court position and from the NRCF Board of Trustees.

“The NCRF Board of Trustees would like to thank Mary Bader for serving as a Trustee,” said NCRF Board of Trustees Chair Tami Keenan, FAPR, RPR, CPE, a retired court reporter from Battle Creek, Mich. “She has been an integral part of the Board, and we will miss her very much as she looks forward to retirement in the near future. She plans to enjoy spending time with her family, especially her grandchildren. However, she also plans on continuing her dedication to our profession. Thank you, Mary!”

Currently serving as an official court reporter for the Eau Claire County Branch 2, Bader began her career in 1990. She has held membership in NCRA since 1988 and served as chair of the National Committee of State Associations from 2015-2017. She is also a member of the Wisconsin Court Reporters Association, where she served on its board of directors from 2003 through 2013 and as its president from 2009 to 2011.

JCR | How long have you been an Angel?

MB | I really cannot tell you how many years I have been an Angel. I know it’s more than 10 because I have the pin and the beautiful clock to prove it. 

JCR | Clearly being an Angel is important to you. Why?

MB | Being an Angel is a fabulous way to give back to the profession that has been so good to me. Serving on NCRA committees and task forces is so important to moving our profession forward but being an Angel and being part of the Foundation is the best way I can think of to give back. 

JCR | What is your favorite NCRF program?

MB | The Foundation’s programs are wide and diverse. Our programs promote students and new professionals. Our legal education program provides useful information for law schools, state bar associations, law firms, and other legal professionals on how to make the best record. NCRF’s Veterans History Project is our way of contributing to preserving our nation’s history, and perhaps more importantly it is an avenue for veterans to tell their stories, so they are assured their sacrifices are not forgotten. 

Learn more about the NCRF Angel Donors program, or become an Angel.

Why I love court reporting: Jamie Booker

Jamie Booker

Jamie Booker, RPR, a freelance reporter in Tacoma, Wash., recently posted the following in the Facebook group Encouraging Court Reporting Students:

Why is court reporting an amazing profession? Maybe you’ll see yourself in my story. I started court reporting school at 20 years old with a one-year-old baby. I had to do something to better our lives, and I’m thankful every day I found court reporting.

I started school full time. While in school, I had two more babies so I finished school part-time at night while working and raising small children. It took me four years to finally finish, but I’m so, so glad I did. It was not easy. I practiced with toddlers at my feet and infants crying and with not nearly enough hours in the day.

I passed my second 225 on a Thursday night, and I was working in court that following Monday as an official. I worked in an extremely busy courthouse in Philadelphia, but they had a great training program for new reporters. Even though Pennsylvania is not a certification state, I got my RPR anyway. Because I was certified, doors I never thought possible opened for me.

After 10 years in Philly, I wanted to try something new. Because I was a court reporter, I could! I quit my job and moved across the country to Tacoma without even looking for a job first. As soon as I had feet on the ground in Washington, there was no shortage of freelance work. It was seamless. I could be brave, try something new, and I had an amazing career that allowed it. Six months later, I was back in court in another official position.

Here I am, more than eight years later. My youngest is turning 18, and I can look to a new chapter. I’m leaving my job as an official and am heading into the freelance arena. I just wasn’t happy in court anymore. And unlike 99 percent of Americans, I will never be stuck where I don’t want to be. With reporting, we have options. We can be brave. We can try new things, and we don’t have to sacrifice an income to do it.

As a student, your sacrifices are now. They are many. They are not fun. School is the hardest part of your whole career. But we have opportunities that will make your friends and families green with envy. STICK IT OUT! Your pain now will be so much gain later.

New Professional Profile: Bethany Glover

Bethany Glover

By Mike Hensley

Bethany Glover, RPR, is a new professional residing in Long Beach, Calif.  Not only is she new — within her first year of work as a freelance deposition reporter — she finished school in a blazing 16 months. She is excellently poised to take the world by storm, and she has graciously shared insights with us as a newly licensed court reporter.

JCR | Why did you choose to become a court reporter?

BG | I grew up dancing, moved to New York City to earn my bachelor’s in dance at a prestigious school, traveled the world performing as a professional dancer, and had to cut short my dancing career early due to a back injury. I wanted a career that would still give me the freedom to travel while also earning a good living. I also loved how crucial court reporting is for getting a record of people‘s experiences and for the judicial system as a whole.

JCR | What’s your “can’t live without” item in your steno bag?

BG | Definitely back-up USB flash drives. I always, always back everything up, because you just never know when technology is going to be cranky.

JCR | What is your biggest challenge as a new reporter?

BG | My biggest challenge as a new reporter is learning how to have a good work/life balance. I really love what I do, so I tend to get lost in my work. I’m trying to learn to step back and take time to do things for myself outside of work too. Self-care is crucial!

JCR | What is your next goal? What is a long-term goal?

BG | My next goal is working on realtime. I’m learning that the cleaner that I write while on the job, the less work I have to do editing. I want to be writing realtime as soon as I can.

A long-term goal of mine is to be able to take depositions internationally. I would love to travel for work. That’s the dream.

JCR | What do you like to do when you’re not reporting?

BG | When I’m not reporting, I love to take yoga classes and explore new neighborhoods. I really enjoy being outside and walking. I also want to get into doing volunteer work with animals.

JCR | What do you love about your career?

BG | I absolutely love meeting new people and going to new offices every day. It’s always something different, and there are no two days the same.

JCR | How has involvement with state and national associations benefited your career thus far?

BG | Being involved with associations has been so important for me on my journey to becoming a court reporter. I have met wonderful reporters through the associations who have supported me, cheered me on, and have been there for me for every question that I have. The court reporting community is like no other, and the reporters I have met through associations inspire me every day.

JCR | What was the best piece of advice that you received from another court reporter that helped you?

BG | The best piece of advice I ever received from another court reporter is to be confident in my skills and to not be afraid of taking charge. Being a new reporter can be a little intimidating sometimes, but you just need to walk in with a smile on your face and your head held high.

Mike Hensley, RDR, is a freelancer from Dublin, Calif. He can be reached at stenomph@gmail.com.