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President's address by Sarah Nageotte, RDR, CRR, CBC

Good morning!  Welcome to San Francisco. Isn’t this a fantastic city for us to celebrate our profession?

What an honor to stand before you as your 107th NCRA President. Wow.  107th. To the 106 presidents who stood before me … thank you. Thank you for leading our association and for your dedication to our profession.  You helped to create the path that brings all of us to where we are today.

I would like to take a moment to recognize the top-notch professionals who were just on this stage, my fellow Board members. I have had the privilege of working alongside many of these leaders for several years.  Words cannot express how much they’ve taught me and how much we’ve grown, and I must thank them for the relationships we have formed. We are a team united by a common desire – giving back to a profession that has given each of us so much.

My family is here today and I want to thank them for recognizing my passion and the level of dedication I have professionally, and for understanding those times when I may have missed an important family event. And, most importantly, thank you for always believing in me and for your support

And thank you for being here in San Francisco and making the personal commitment to advance our profession by expanding your knowledge and skills. I know you will leave here excited, and energized, about the future of court reporting, captioning, and legal videography.

NCRA’s Convention and Expo is a time of reflection and renewal for us. It is a fresh start, much like flipping the calendar for a new year. It is a time for us to look back on our accomplishments of the past year, set goals for the year ahead, and dream big about what awaits us on the horizon.

For me, standing here as your president is, in many ways, a dream comes true. Court reporting, our profession, has been my path to personal and professional growth; a profession that inspires me to give back and be involved; a profession of which I am proud to be a part.

Sarah Nageotte

I did not always know court reporting was to be a part of my life’s journey. As a young mother searching for a way to support my family, I was introduced to court reporting after a presentation delivered by the owner of a court reporting school. He highlighted all the profession had to offer, and I said to myself, “I can do that.  I will do that.”

We each have our own paths we’ve traveled as court reporters, don’t we? As professionals, we continually pursue the path of greatness. We strive to perfect our skills, pursue additional credentials – we are always improving ourselves. We embrace new technology and progress forward in serving new markets. We are a timeless and ageless profession walking boldly into the future.

Whether you’re a reporter with 1-year, 7, 20, or 37-plus years’ experience, there’s always something to learn, something to change or adapt to, and something to offer to a colleague, and friend. Take the history our profession gives us, evaluate what has been successful, along with what hasn’t, and reach out to each other.

To our seasoned reporters, don’t discount a new reporter. You were there once. To our new reporters and our students, learn the profession’s history; know why we are who we are today. Understand the perspective of those in the field and how evolution and adaptation has molded a skill into a remarkable piece of art.

NCRA is proceeding in its execution of a powerful five-year plan, Vision 2018, which focuses on key issues and opportunities in the stenographic court reporting profession. We are prepared to go into the marketplace and tell today’s generation why court reporting is a career worthy of their time and consideration. The livelihood of our profession is dependent on our ability to resonate with potential students, and I am confident that we are going to make an impact with our efforts.

If you think back to the late-1990s and early-2000s, you may recall that headlines screamed of an immediate nursing shortage. The timing was ideal. The economy suffered after 9/11 and young people were concerned about securing full-time employment after college. The nursing profession took advantage of these conditions to talk about its unfilled need, and assured the public that plenty of nursing jobs awaited those who received the necessary training. As a result, many pursued nursing degrees, despite the fact that nursing is a challenging career! Because of the potential for financial success and practically guaranteed job placement, parents across the country were more than happy to support their children’s decision to pursue nursing.

Let’s turn those headlines in our direction. The stenographic court reporting profession is facing a shortage as well. The independently-produced Industry Outlook Report, which was presented to you by Ducker Worldwide earlier this morning, offers a startling look at what could happen if we do not produce enough skilled court reporters in just a few short years.

It’s as simple as this: The demand for court reporting services will soon exceed what the current pool of court reporters can provide. There is demand for more court reporters. Our profession is not on life support.  Our profession is strong. We can guarantee job placement and financial wellbeing for those who consider court reporting as a profession. And this is good news. In fact, this may be the best news we have received in a long time!

We can prove to today’s parents that court reporting is a profession that their children should pursue. We belong to a profession that demands a closer look. We have something amazing to offer, and at just the right time, too. Traditional college degrees are expensive and don’t necessarily guarantee job placement. Millennials are seeking careers with flexibility, the opportunity to grow and learn something new every day and, most notably, they are fully equipped to be the technological leaders of the future workplace. It seems to me that court reporting is the perfect answer.

I recently came across a speech I had given at the 2011 Annual Convention in Las Vegas in which I said, “The education of our students, and the recruitment prior to, is a crucial aspect in NCRA's role in our profession and our future. We must revitalize the requirements of our schools to decrease the amount of time it takes our students to graduate.” In that same speech I also discussed external marketing of the profession, and I stated, “Promotion must be done publicly - through social, news, and print media - and it must be done aggressively in order to establish our roles for the future.” While it’s only three years later, I stand before you now and say: It is time!

What we are going to do is launch a national campaign to put stenographic court reporting in the spotlight. It’s going to be shining bright on us in the months and years ahead. We are going to get more students into schools. We are going to work with our court reporting programs like never before in order to get more students out of those schools. This path ahead does bring challenges. It’s not going to happen overnight, and we have a lot of catching up to do, but I know we are heading in the right direction.

The pending shortage benefits all of us. Demand is present and growing for the foreseeable future. This means we need to strengthen our skills and expand our ability to serve new markets. By sitting here this morning – by attending the premier educational event of the year here in San Francisco – your quest to prepare for the future of court reporting has begun.

NCRA’s Convention & Expo exposes you to the most relevant issues and educational topics, as well as the latest and greatest from the vendors that support the industry. Go to all of the sessions you can fit into your schedule. Visit as many vendors as possible. Talk to your NCRA leadership and staff about what is happening within your association. Connect with your colleagues as you grow personally and professionally.

Court reporters share a unique bond. I have traveled all over the country and experienced this firsthand from every angle of the profession. I’m so glad your travels brought you here to San Francisco. I look forward to our paths crossing many times over, because together, we can guarantee our future shines bright.

On behalf of NCRA, enjoy your experience here at the 2014 Convention & Expo. This is our time! 

Thank you.