NCRA member recognized by 6th Judicial Court

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting,, JCR WeeklyNCRA member Julie Novak, RMR, an official court reporter from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received the Public Service Award from the 6th Judicial District Court where she works, according to an article posted Feb. 19 by The Gazette.

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Honor someone with NCRA’s highest award: The Distinguished Service Award

Nancy Varallo recognized with NCRA Distinguished Service Award

Nancy Varallo received the 2017 NCRA Distinguished Service Award

NCRA’s Distinguished Service Award (DSA) recognizes the distinguished work and service of an individual member for the benefit of the court reporting and captioning professions, including service to NCRA as a member, a committee member, a director, or an officer of the Association. It is also often viewed as the highlight of the recipient’s career. The deadline to nominate a candidate is Feb. 9.

“What an honor to be NCRA’s 2017 DSA recipient! The thrills of that day won’t soon be forgotten — seeing my family members appear as if by magic as my name was announced, the applause of my peers, the sentimental video created by my good friend Bill Weber and my father, and my own ‘aha’ moment when I realized my husband, Ed, had kept this wonderful secret from me,” said Nancy Varallo, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a freelance reporter and firm owner from Worcester, Mass. Varallo is also a past president of NCRA.

DSA recipients are also recognized for other displays of notable work, including contributing to the JCR or service at a state court reporters association or in the field of public relations or public affairs. Award winners are recognized at the NCRA Convention & Expo.

“I realized how my involvement in NCRA followed the example of so many leaders who served before me. I felt a real sense of gratitude for the mentors who had helped me along the way: first my dad, my court reporting mentor; and my mom, my feminist role model,” Varallo said.

“I also realized the gratitude I had for the inspiring leaders I’ve been privileged to know throughout my almost four decades of volunteerism. Those leaders blazed the trail! They set the bar for excellence. They taught me the responsibilities that come with commitment, the importance of doing my best, always, and to be ever mindful that a leader is always a role model. I take that seriously. I’ve sought to be a good and thoughtful leader, and I hope I’ve helped to empower others to take the reins of leadership. That would make me happy,” Varallo added.

Voting members of NCRA or of recognized court reporting associations may submit nominations through an online form, by email to, or by mail to NCRA, Attn: DSA, 12030 Sunrise Valley Dr., Suite 400, Reston, VA 20191. Nominations must include information supporting why the nominee should be considered. DSA candidates cannot be an active member of the DSA Committee or the NCRA Board of Directors. The deadline to nominate a member for NCRA’s 56th Distinguished Service Award is Feb. 9.

Ellen Grauer receives 2017 International Women’s Entrepreneurial Award

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting,, JCR WeeklyOn Oct. 10, the National Network of Reporting Companies shared an Oct. 9 press release from the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge Foundation (IWEC) announcing that NCRA associate member Ellen Grauer will receive the 2017 IWEC Award at the organization’s annual conference in November. Grauer has been recognized for her “trailblazing work offering first-class court reporting services to the legal community nationally and globally for the past 20 years.”

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NCRA member named Employee of the Year at Brooklyn Supreme Court

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting,, JCR WeeklyThe Brooklyn Daily Eagle (N.Y.) reported on Oct. 6 that NCRA member and senior court reporter Enika Bodnar, RPR, CRI, was named the Employee of the Year at the Brooklyn Supreme Court. Bodnar has been working in the court system since July 1996 and started at Brooklyn Supreme Court in March 2007.

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U.S. Legal Support receives ‘best of’ awards

JCR: Journal of Court Reporting,, JCR WeeklyU.S. Legal Support, Inc., Houston, Texas, announced in press releases issued Sept. 14 that the firm has been voted the 2017 Best Court Reporting and Deposition Service Provider in the Midwest by readers of The National Law Journal for the fifth consecutive year. The firm also picked up similar awards in California.

NCRA announces the winners of the 2017 CASE scholarships

Lisa Erickson

Lisa Erickson

The Council on Approved Student Education (CASE) has selected Lisa Erickson, a student at Prince Institute in Elmhurst, Ill., as the first-place winner of the 2017 CASE Scholarship. Maggie DeRocher, of Des Moines Area Community College in Newton, Ia., earned second place, and Meredith Seymour of Lakeshore Technical College in Cleveland, Wis. earned third place. The first-place winner will receive $1,500; second place, $1,000; and third place, $500.

“Words fail to adequately express just how blessed I am to have received this award,” says Erickson. “As a double-duty parent, so many odds are constantly stacked against me. What this means to me is a bright start to the future I dream for my family. Thank you to all who helped make this possible.”

“I’m so honored to be a recipient of the CASE scholarship,” DeRocher tells Up-to-Speed. “It’s great motivation to continue to constantly learn and grow in this great profession.”

Meredith Seymour, who has worked as an American Sign Language interpreter, says she is “humbled and thankful to be granted this scholarship, yet also honored to be given this opportunity to spread awareness on behalf of the Deaf and hard-of-hearing community.”

maggie derocher_cropped

Maggie DeRocher

As part of the application process, students submitted an original essay on the topic “Describe what the professions of court reporting and captioning are like today from your perspective. What do you think those professions will be like in the next ten years?”

All three winning essays focused on the growing demand for reporters and captioners as well as a positive outlook for the future. “I conclude that in ten years and beyond,” Erickson writes, “this remarkable field will continue to turn heads and strengthen the backbone of the community.” Erickson’s instructors rated her as “exceptional” and used words such as “stupendous,” “persistent,” and “committed” to describe her.

Meredith Seymour

Meredith Seymour

Another common theme among the essays was the effect that technology will play in the future of the court reporting and captioning professions. Seymour points out the shortcomings of digital audio recordings in courtroom settings: “Although once thought as a convenient and inexpensive route, [technology] has been continuing to prove how inadequate and untrustworthy it is a reporting device for the court system.”

DeRocher, on the other hand, sees social media as a way to share information within the community: “There is camaraderie, punctuation and grammar advice, suggestions how to handle different situations that arise in the profession, discussions of the newest technologies, and everything in between.”

Applicants were also required to be current students at an NCRA-approved court reporting program, hold student membership with NCRA, write between 140-180 wpm, and submit three recommendation forms, among other criteria.

Scholarship recipients will be formally announced at the 2017 NCRA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, Nev. Visit the Student Resources page for more information about the CASE Scholarship and other scholarship opportunities.

Call for Altruism Award nominations

Jan Ballman presents Pat Graves with the 2016 Aurelio Award

Jan Ballman presents Pat Graves with the 2016 Aurelio Award

Nominations are now being accepted for the Santo J. Aurelio Award for Altruism, the highest honor awarded by the National Court Reporters Foundation. The deadline for nominations is July 7.

The Aurelio Award, which is presented at the NCRA Convention & Expo, is bestowed on a long-time court reporter who has given back selflessly to the profession or community. The nominee must be an NCRA Participating or Registered member or a Retired Participating or Registered member, have demonstrated altruistic behavior, and have been a working reporter for at least 25 years.

“For me, being recognized by my peers was and continues to be a professional highlight,” said Pat Graves, FAPR, RDR, CRR, CRC, a CART captioner and firm owner from Monument, Colo., and the 2016 Aurelio Award recipient.

“To hear the heartfelt words of people I work with and serve is both humbling and startling! I always think I fly under the radar and that no one notices me or what I do,” Graves said.

“It is with dedication and care that one’s peers send in a nomination and then do all the follow-up work required for this award or really any award bestowed upon NCRA members. I encourage my colleagues to please consider nominating someone you know for this award. You never know how much it will mean to them,” she added.

For questions or more information about the Santo J. Aurelio Award for Altruism, contact B.J. Shorak, NCRF Deputy Executive Director, at 800-272-6272, ext. 126, or at

Nominate now.

NCSA 2017 challenge winner exceeds last year’s win

Erminia_NCSA_squareFor the past three years, the National Committee of State Associations (NCSA) has issued a friendly challenge among state associations and individuals to spread the word about the benefits of a career in court reporting or captioning. Participants had the chance to win complimentary registrations to NCRA events or vouchers for continuing education. Erminia Uviedo, RDR, CRR, a freelance court reporter from San Antonio, Texas, has won the grand prize of a complimentary registration to the NCRA Convention & Expo for the last two challenges.

In an interview about her first win, Uviedo said her goal was to win again in 2017 by beating her own record of coordinating participation in 26 school career fairs. And top honors she did earn by coordinating volunteers for participation in 32 career fairs and college nights in the San Antonio area.

The JCR Weekly reached out to her to learn more about what motivates her to put so much effort into promoting the profession.

How many career fairs did you organize for court reporters to participate in during this last NCSA challenge?

I contacted, reserved tables, and coordinated volunteers for 32 career fair/college nights, mainly in San Antonio, but also reached out to some schools in South Texas, West Texas, and North Texas.

How many of those did you participate in?

I participated in seven events as a presenter.

How did you identify events to participate?

This year, I tried to add schools we didn’t reach last year, and we returned to the schools that had a good setup for meeting students. I also searched the Web for advertisements for college nights for certain areas.

How did you recruit volunteers to help?

I posted on Facebook asking for volunteers again and had a lot of returning volunteers. They were so excited to help again. I reached out to certain court reporters I knew in other areas that have always been willing to help. I was very happy with recruitment in the Rio Grande Valley (McAllen and Brownsville). They began recruiting just this year and had seven successful events. I expect more activity next year. #teamwork

What is the biggest factor motivating you to reach out to participate in so many career day events?

My motivating factor has been the threat of court reporting school closings. So many court reporting schools have been closing as of late. San Antonio College had that threat a few years ago. We had 37 students enrolled at the time, and I made it my personal goal to see if we could attain 100 student enrollments. With 67 currently enrolled, we are well on our way.

What have some of the responses been from students learning about court reporting for the first time?

Students are always in awe of the technology. They are amazed. When I tell them it’s like texting, they are even more intrigued.

Do you know of any students who have followed a career path in this profession because of career fairs you have participated in?

Yes, I do, more than a couple. I always ask: Where did you hear about us? Some have said career fairs. Some have said Facebook posts. Some just knew somebody who knew somebody who was a court reporter.

Do you serve as a mentor for current court reporting students? If so, why?

Because court reporting is such a unique skill, students need motivation to keep going. Family members and friends don’t understand their frustration in getting a 95 percent on a test. But reporters definitely do. We can definitely relate. Sometimes all students need is a friendly ear.

But working reporters also provide valuable information to students, likes tips on practicing, writing shorter, writing cleaner, dealing with test anxiety, and being professional. All of our San Antonio College court reporting students get sponsored to attend our state convention; every single one. Since our San Antonio Elite Mentorship Program got off the ground two years ago, we have so many more students advancing. The first year we had six sit for the certified shorthand reporter exam, more than we did in many years. This year we expect to have another five, at least.

I am assuming you have fun participating in these events. What is the best part of participating for you?

I love demonstrating realtime for students. I love to write what they are saying, and they get such a kick out of it. They are always fascinated, as are the teachers, counselors, and parents.

What advice would you give to other reporters thinking of participating in career fairs?

I would definitely tell them it’s a team effort. If they can get together a group of reporters who are all willing to cover these fairs in a certain area, that would be the best approach. Reporters’ schedules change daily, so, if a whole team is together and willing, the process of getting them all coordinated and covered will go that much smoother.

What is the best part of attending a national convention?

My first NCRA convention was in Las Vegas back in 2011. At the time, the best part for me was being kept apprised of all the issues facing our profession. I love advancing my skills. The first NCRA convention, I was excited about Realtime Coach. It was just starting. And I loved the concept because I was working on my realtime at the time. This past year, I was excited about attending the captioner’s workshop and learning about the field of captioning.

What are you looking forward to most about this year’s convention?

I loved meeting court reporting students and new reporters last year. I love to hear their stories of where they are working now, where they went to school, what they did to overcome obstacles, or how they practiced. Any tips I can bring back to our students.

You were also a recipient of a JCR Award this year. Were you surprised? What is so important about earning this award?

Yes, I was a little surprised. I feel so honored to have been recognized by NCRA. What an accomplishment! I feel it’s like winning an Emmy.

What is your goal for next year’s NCSA challenge?

I would love to reach more schools in the Rio Grande Valley, try to increase recruitment to 10 next year, as the Rio Grande Valley has been feeling the shortage for a while now and it’s such a wonderful place to live and work.

I feel that every state needs to form a Student Recruitment Committee or Task Force. Map out your state and get to work! It’s not difficult at all. There are plenty of schools and recruiting opportunities. We just need the volunteers to cover them. We can keep our court reporting schools open!

NCRA Director Rick Levy, RPR, honored with FCRA’s highest award

NCRA Director Rick Levy accepts the FCRA Distinguished Service Award

NCRA Director Rick Levy (left) accepts the FCRA Distinguished Service Award from FCRA Past President Cathy Phillips

Rick Levy, RPR, a firm owner from Miami, Fla., was recently named recipient of the Emily Mann Distinguished Service Award by the Florida Court Reporters Association (FCRA). The award is FCRA’s most prestigious award and recognizes the recipient for his or her exceptional qualifications and experience in the field of shorthand reporting while contributing in a meritorious manner to the welfare of the association. Levy also serves on NCRA’s Board of Directors.

Levy, a firm owner since 2003, previously worked as an independent contractor for Mudrick, Witt, Levy & Consor, where he handled reporting assignments, including worker’s compensation, personal injury, commercial litigation, and construction defect cases both in depositions and hearings, as well as numerous jury trials.

“Rick has served the board in every position, including as president,” wrote FCRA member Holly Kapacinskas, RPR, CRR, a freelance reporter from Debary, Fla., who nominated Levy for the award. “He has always stepped up to help any committee, board member, or FCRA member when asked because, as he says, ‘I know how hard it is to get someone to say they’ll help, so I’m willing to help.’”

Kapacinskas also noted in her nomination of Levy that he has worked tirelessly in his passion to encourage, mentor, promote, and sponsor students. She said that Levy also actively gives presentations at court reporting schools, bar association meetings, and to law school students.

“To be selected by one’s own peers to be awarded my state association’s highest award is the ultimate honor and one I will cherish forever,” Levy said.

“Being chosen to receive the Emily Mann Distinguished Service Award this year is very humbling as I hold the past recipients of the award in the highest esteem and am honored to now be among them. To be recognized by your state association for all your time, hard work, and true dedication is very appreciated and validates the many hours I have given to FCRA over the many years,” he added.

At the national level, Levy has also served on NCRA’s Nominating and Elections committees, the Freelance Community of Interest, the New Markets Task Force, and as Chair of the Firm Owners Executive Conference.

“Rick, in his quiet manner, is always encouraging and promoting reporters and the court reporting profession and has contributed greatly to the welfare of FCRA over a sustained period of time, which is what this award is about,” Kapacinskas also wrote in her nomination of Levy.

The FCRA Distinguished Service Award is named in honor of the late Emily L. Mann, a longtime member of the association. During her career as a court reporter, Mann also led presentations at NCRA events, taught court reporting to students for more than 40 years, and authored a number of textbooks about court reporting. She passed away in 1999 at the age of 88.

The National Law Journal names U.S. Legal Support 2016 best national court reporting and deposition provider

A press release issued March 31 announced that U.S. Legal Support Inc. has been voted the national best court reporting and deposition services provider by readers of The National Law Journal for the fifth consecutive year. U.S. Legal Support Inc. provides a suite of litigation support services, including court reporting, record retrieval, eDiscovery, and trial services.

“It is an honor to have received this prestigious award for five consecutive years,” said Charles F. Schugart, U.S. Legal Support president & CEO.

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