President’s Speech – Key Largo, Florida, 2023

Thank you all for being here. I think I can speak for all current and former board members when I saythat everything we do is for our members, and we appreciate your support.

I have joked for a couple of years that this speech would be on a 6-second delay, as I may be channeling Donna Kanabay up here, filling up our swear jar. Donna and I used to put quarters in here at the beginning of every meeting. Any time we swore, we would drop a quarter in the jar. Eventually, due to the clinking noise, we just started dropping a $20 in at the beginning of meetings to hedge our bets.

I have worn these bracelets for about six years now. I received them at a court reporting conference I attended. We were told to think of one word that described us and our professional journey. I had two words, so I got two bracelets. One bracelet has the word “perseverance,” and the other has the word“ opportunity.”

My path to where I am may be unique. I went to a brick-and-mortar court reporting school. I was told I sucked at it, and I should think of doing something else, but I was a teenager, and what do teenagers love to do, other than prove “old people” wrong? I figured, “I’ll show them! I’ll show everybody.” I failed theory twice. I never took my machine home to practice, and I write almost everything out. But I found my way, what worked for me. PERSEVERANCE.

I was a member of a team that was the first in the country to provide open captioning for its county government meetings. For those that do not know, open captioning means when you turn on that television station, you see the captioning, whether you want to or not. The county person setting up the team thought if you could write on that machine, you could caption. Despite the county being told by a preeminent member of our profession, a man who had captioned for the President of the United States on a regular basis, my team wasn’t ready to go on the air, on the air we went. In Russian. Yeah. Which meant nothing I was writing was translating. Good start.

The members of my team and I received letter after letter from court reporting firms who were upset the captioning contract didn’t go out for bid. They thought that they could handle this project and should have been given the opportunity to give it a try. After we started, however, they slowly backed away when they saw how tough the job was.

During that time, the county offered us a chance to get benefits and a raise to a living wage, which we didn’t have at that time. Because there was nobody in the country doing this type of work yet, we were paid at the civil service rate that a secretary would make…$7 an hour. So, the raise would almost double our salary, which we still thought was great at that time, but there was a catch…we had to pass the RPR to get that bump. We had to show some sort of national or state certification. OPPORTUNITY

I had taken the RPR when I was in school but didn’t pass. I don’t know what possessed me to try, but I did. I am the world’s worst test taker. I get caught up in my head or I forget to breathe, or I just doubt myself. It took me three tries to pass the RPR back when you had to pass all the legs at the same time to get it in the first place. PERSEVERANCE

What that certification did, however, was open the door for bigger jobs, better jobs, odder jobs.

From the county, I moved to Pittsburgh to work for VITAC, then the preeminent live captioning company. My first day on the air was the Oklahoma City Bombing. But I also got to caption fun stuff, like “Saturday Night Live” and the “Today” Show, BUT they wouldn’t have even talked to me if I didn’t have my certification. OPPORTUNITY.

I then tried to get my CRR. And three attempts later, I finally passed. PERSEVERENCE.

Three more attempts to get my RMR, albeit, I passed all the skills in one shot and kept drowning on the written. PERSEVERENCE.

I moved home to Florida and started depo and court work. The opportunity came up to live caption the then-Vice President of the United States in a town hall debate in St. Petersburg. The job was offered to me because I had my certifications. OPPORTUNITY.

Without that certification, I wouldn’t have been able to continue my lucky streak of captioning the Olympics three more times, or seven times in total. And I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to move to Australia and caption “Big Brother After Dark.” If you don’t know, you don’t need to know.

I've captioned the Stanley Cup Finals where the Cup was awarded. Being a hockey geek, it was pretty cool. I captioned news and international news, everything from nuclear disasters to Pope visits to 9/11coverage. OPPORTUNITY.

Basically, the point I’m making is that certification matters. Certification opens the door. Having your FPR, which shows you understand the transcript formats and rules we should all be following, should be a minimum for all Florida reporters, voice and steno. I’ll put it another way. Do you value what you do? Do you want other people to see the value in what you do? Do you talk to your clients about what you really do and what you can offer them? OPPORTUNITY.

I’ll repeat the story I read some time ago on social media. A father had kept an old Jeep for his daughter. She had graduated high school with honors, and he wanted to congratulate her in a special way. Innocently, she asked, “Daddy, how much is the car worth?” The father simply answered, “Bring it to the used car dealership and see how much they will give you for it.” She came back saying, “They offered me $1,000 as the car is old and needs repairs.” He then told her to take it to the pawn shop and see how much she would get for it. She came back and said, “With all the other cars they already have and the weak economy, they would give me $100.” The father then told his daughter to go to the Jeep club and show them his old car. The daughter went to the club, and when she returned, she said, “Some people in the club offered me $100,000 because it is a classic and sought by many collectors.” Now the father said to his daughter, “The right people value you the right way.”

If you are not valued, do not be angry or doubt your abilities. Those who know your value are those who will appreciate you. Never stay in a situation where no one sees your value.

Another exchange was between two radio operators, one of them aboard a U.S. Navy ship.
Radioman 1: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision.
Radioman 2: Recommend YOU divert YOUR course 15 degrees.
Radioman 1: I am the captain of a U.S. Navy ship. I say again, divert your course.
Radioman 2: No, I say again, divert YOUR course.
Radioman 1: This is an aircraft carrier of the U.S. Navy. We are a large warship. Divert your course now!
Radioman 2: This is a lighthouse. Your call.

Are we going to be so stuck in our ways, the way “we’ve always done things,” that we are going to plow headlong into the proverbial lighthouse? OPPORTUNITY.

I want to assure everyone that FCRA’s goal is in no way to hinder any steno/voice reporter’s ability to make a living nor add to the already challenging task of finding coverage for jobs. However, if and when other circuits in our state, on their own accord, require certification in the future, FCRA now has a recognized certification as an option for these circuits. PERSEVERANCE.

This is just the beginning of a very bright future for Florida’s steno and voice reporters. FCRA is actively working on the logistics of offering the FPR-C exam more often to increase the number of FPR-Cs in our state. This will be a slow rollout starting with only those circuits that already require NCRA/NVRA certification. PERSEVERANCE AND OPPORTUNITY.

As the gold standard, we need to educate everyone about our value and the pride we take in our work. Achieving and maintaining our certifications, the FPR all the way to the RDR, reflects that you have pride in your work, you are proud of what you do, and you are the best of the best. Become your own champion within and be your own best advocate for yourself. Recognize opportunity and you will persevere.

Thank you,


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