President's Annual Message

First, I want to say thank you, thank you, thank you for being here.  I know many of you went to Vegas; you didn't need to come, but we appreciate so much you being here and supporting us. 

As I was driving over here this morning, the thought came to me, now, how did I get myself into this?  And then the next song that came on the radio was "Over My Head," The Fray, everyone knows I'm in over my head, and I thought, well, that's kind of fitting for how I feel right now. 

But I would like to share with you just a few thoughts that I have had over the last months.  A good friend of mine a few months ago was providing CART to a person at an education conference.  She was sitting behind him with her machine and he was following the session on her iPad.  When that first class ended, he turned around to her with tears in his eyes and said "Thank you so much.  I've never gotten so much out of a session." 

I think we all have had those situations out of the many hundreds of work days where something touches us and it changes us and it makes us realize that what we do is important to someone.  Those are the times when I'm writing and I'm thinking to myself I really want to do a good job for these people because this is so important to them.  I think the CART people, I'm sure it's probably not always this way, but I think they're lucky that they probably more than most of us get to have direct contact with that person who is the ultimate recipient of their services.  We freelancers and officials, you know, maybe clients are there sometimes, but most of the time we're just dealing with the attorneys.  I think they're very lucky to be able to have that contact.

We can never forget that we are providing a service and usually that service comes at a time when someone is very emotional and stressed and has a lot on the line, and we are an important part in helping them be able to resolve that.

Now I'm going to turn to politics for just a minute.  But don't worry, I'm not going to get political.  Just to make a comparison.  We all know, particularly in the last 15 to 20 years, how divided our politics has become in our country.  And sometimes we talk about those people in Washington and we say why can't they just put aside their personal problems and their personal beliefs and work together for the good of the country?  But I would ask you can we really expect that of them when they are making decisions that affect hundreds of millions of people if we can't do it ourselves? 

In that same time period, about 15 to 20 years, our profession has had some serious challenges, and our association also.  There hasn't always been agreement about how to deal with those challenges.  And even today you look at our code of conduct and there's probably not agreement among everyone about what exactly does compliance with the code mean.  Our attorney, Jimmy Cool, once referred to us as five‑percenters.  We've all heard the statistics that only 5 percent of people that begin court reporting programs actually finish and become court reporters, so he called us the five‑percenters.  Well, when you are in the 5 percent, you have a lot of smart people all together, and so there obviously will be a lot of different opinions.  And we won't always agree, but we need to agree to disagree and part as friends and work together. 

In a few days, I will celebrate my 33rd anniversary as a reporter.  I took my first deposition on my birthday, so it's easy to remember my reporting anniversary.  From day one in this profession, I have heard the drum beat of gloom and doom about our profession, and it certainly hasn't gotten quieter over the decades.  It's gotten louder and louder.  We have to come together.  We have to be unified.

As I said, there are a lot of different opinions about what should happen with things, and we can have different opinions.  I will say if you feel like you have firsthand information that someone in our profession is damaging the profession and not complying with the rules, please, by all means, talk to that person.  Or if you feel it's serious enough, go to the CR board.  But we need to change.  We cannot afford to have the rumors, the personal attacks, and the infighting that has gone on in the past.  We have to be unified for the future.

Any time we have the opportunity, we need to be building each other up and avoiding at all costs tearing each other down.  We will never agree on everything, but there is more that unites us than divides us, and we have to work together.  I would hope that if someone comes to you and starts to tell you something negative about another reporter that you will stop them and say what is the source of this information?  Do you know this firsthand?  And if you are attempting to pass along something that is 20 times removed from the original source, please stop and ask yourself do I really know that this is true. 

I heard someone comment recently that probably the biggest problem of professional associations is that they suffer more problems from squabbles within than any of the problems that they face from external forces.  We've had our struggles over the years, freelancers among freelancers, officials and freelancers, officials versus officials.  Of course we're not going to agree, but we need to work together. 

Now, speaking of working together, I want you to look around your table.  We usually have eight people at a table.  Today we have fewer so that you can all face this direction.  But imagine you have ten people at your table and then imagine that you and your nine friends are responsible for everything that goes on with ACRA.  It's a little overwhelming.  There are only ten of us on the board.  Many hands make light work, and we don't have many hands.  We need a lot more. 

If you were to have asked me a little over a year ago if I was going to be president elect and president of ACRA, I would've said ha‑ha, no, I'm getting off the board; I've been on the board for over four years, I'm done.  And if you would've asked Kate Roundy probably two months ago if she was going to be the president elect, she would've said no, no, no.  In fact, that's what she did say I think the first couple times I asked her.  She finally gave in.  But we need a lot more people. 

Now, I'm happy to announce we do have many committees on ACRA, and if you will see towards the back of the room by the doors you'll see that strange little board.  That's actually a sign‑up sheet for committees, and I'm excited to announce three new committees. 

One is called the interstate coordination committee.  It has become more and more important for us to coordinate with other states and to know what's going on in other states so that we can help each other.  There are emails that come across too numerous to count, and I as one person certainly don't have time to read all of them and track them and keep track of what's going on in other states.  We need a committee to do that.  We need people that are tech savvy and would like to communicate with other states.  So we need help with that committee. 

Another committee, speaking of other states, is the multistate convention committee.  I've been in contact with some of our neighbors, and they're excited about having a multistate convention in the future.  We're looking at the spring of 2020.  As Kristin announced, the NCRA convention in 2018 is in New Orleans and 2019 it's in Denver.  So that's kind of close geographically, and so we're looking at the spring of 2020.

Back in the '80s, New Mexico and Colorado had a combined convention in Durango, Colorado, and the New Mexico association has told me they are still talking about it, how much fun it was.  So I reached out to Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico, and we'll kind of see what shakes out.  But we need a committee for that, and that would be a multi‑year commitment.  We'd like the same people to be involved in that planning throughout.  And we'll see what kind of a multistate convention we can put together for the spring of 2020.  So we need people for that.

Now, the last committee is called the outreach committee.  I've divided the state into six regions, and each region will have two regional liaisons, preferably a freelancer and an official for each region.  These regional liaisons will have a few functions.  Maybe the most important is communication with the ACRA board.  So say, for example, you are a reporter in Lake Havasu and you have an idea or maybe a complaint, and you don't really want to email ACRA directly and have it be known; you want to remain anonymous.  But you know Michelle in Yuma.  Everybody knows Michelle in Yuma.  So you call Michelle and you say, hey, Michelle, I have this idea or I want to ‑‑ I have this gripe with the ACRA board.  I want you to communicate that to them.  So you have a direct line.  You can always email us any time you want, but if you want to stay anonymous or you're a little shy, you can go through your regional liaison and have them communicate that to us.  I have a few people that have already volunteered for that, but we need a lot more. 

Your region will be based on where you live.  So your office may be in Phoenix or you may work 90 percent in Phoenix, but if you live in Glendale then you are in that region, that part of the valley.  So I have the maps of the state and then the detail for the valley, metro Phoenix, on there.  So please look at that at the back and please get involved.  We need everyone's help. 

There is so much to do and there's so much that we can do.  If everyone just does a little bit, we can accomplish amazing, amazing things. 

I do have to make one last comment about the speed contest participants.  I was able to help with the speed contest yesterday and help grade with Marylynn.  Oh, all I can say is I bow to your greatness.  Those of you who participated in the speed contest, it was so impressive.  To be listening to the test at those high speeds and read an entire page with not a single error on more than one test, it's truly impressive.  We have some great writers among us.  And just listening to it, it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, and I was kind of thinking maybe I'll actually do this next year.  So I would encourage a lot more of you to come and participate in that next year. 

So thank you for coming.  Please let's be united.  Let's not do ourselves in with backbiting and infighting.  And, please, we need you.  Please sign up for a committee.  Don't wait to be asked, as Doreen said.  Don't wait to be asked to be on the board or to be on a committee.  We often reach out and ask people if they would like to participate, but we don't know everyone out there and we don't know what your life situation might be.  If you would be willing to participate, if you have that availability, please contact us and let us know if you would like to be on the board and sign up for a committee.

My email and cell phone number are on the membership directory of our ACRA website.  Please call me whenever you want.  I would love to hear from you.  I promise that I will do my best to serve you the best I can this year. 

Thank you,

Carolyn Sullivan

NCRA Ethics First Supporter

About ACRA

The Arizona Court Reporters Association’s mission is to educate and inform the public, reporters, and related legal professions about codified court reporting ethics,...


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