President’s Message

Denise Zito Smith, OCRA President

My journey towards a career as a court reporter began in the early ‘80s.  I was nearing high school graduation and wondering what my next step was going to be when my mom said, “You should be a court reporter,” of which my reply was, “What the heck’s a court reporter?”  Now, mind you, at the time I lived in Milo, Oregon, population – well, I tried to Google it, but to help you better understand, my graduation class consisted 25 students, so needless to say, there were no court reporters nearby, much less schools.

Fast forward to the early ‘90s now, I’m living in Portland, married and raising three kiddos when, lo and behold, I see a commercial asking if I want to become a professional court reporter, make a great living, and have some say over my work hours… Umm, yes!  And so begins my journey towards the best career decision of my life.

Now here we are in 2018, and I have the privilege of being the OCRA president.  I feel so honored!  Volunteering for the Association has been such a great experience.  I’ve learned so much and have made some great friends along the way.  I’ve always had a passion for writing on my machine, but by getting involved my passion has expanded beyond that.  I understand more so now that I am part of a bigger picture, and even though I am but one person, there is power in numbers, and if we all join together we can make a difference.

This year my goal will be focused on a couple of areas in particular, one of which is the A to Z program.   As most of you may know, A to Z is a small group setting of participants who want to learn about the steno machine.  This group is led by a professional reporter.  The machines are loaners and the material is provided free of charge from NCRA.  The program is approximately six to eight weeks and it gives participants the opportunity to determine if court reporting is a good fit for them.  For me, once my fingers touched the machine I was hooked!  There is also Project Steno which is a program that offers tuition assistance to people who have completed A to Z and want further training.

The board has created an A to Z ad hoc committee.  The next step is finding volunteers who have a passion for expanding the program and want to be on the committee, so if you are interested please contact me at

Another area I’ll be focused on is supporting our legislative committee and Elizabeth Howe, our lobbyist, in building a relationship with the Oregon State Bar Association.  Elizabeth is in the process of working with the OSB Procedures and Practices Committee to develop best practices for using court reporters in Oregon courts.  The goal is to have a Bar workgroup convened by the end of the year, and our hope is that these efforts will lead us to better rules for certified reporters serving as the official record keeper.

In closing, I want to encourage you to reach out if you have questions or if you want to volunteer.  Also, please share your accomplishments so I can celebrate with you!  If you know of a court reporter who deserves recognition for a test that was passed or for doing pro bono work, et cetera, let me know so I can send them a celebratory card.  If one of our fellow reporters is going through a hard time, let me know so I can reach out to them with a word of encouragement.  Oftentimes as court reporters we work independently and it’s easy to forget that we are part of a group of caring professionals.  My hope this year is to strengthen that sense of camaraderie within our association.  We are all in this together!