“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop
Today’s Forecast: Cloudy with a 100 percent chance of a Silver Lining - By: Monica Yepes, NCBC Impact Editorial Committee
Welcome to our new section of Silver Lining Stories! We would like to feature stories to balance the bad news with the good. Lately, we seem to be bombarded in our daily lives with the current world events, which can be stressful and overwhelming at times. We’d like to give you an opportunity to help us find the positivity in these challenging times. We invite you to share a heartwarming, feel-good, inspiring story that you have personally witnessed or experienced. We are searching for the silver linings to emphasize that humanity, kindness, compassion, hope, heroism, community, and resilience exists in the world. Help us spread positivity and lift spirits by celebrating stories to connect with one another during the pandemic. After all, we’re in this together! Please share your stories and photos with us at Impact@ncbcweb.com to be featured in a future edition of Silver Lining Stories!
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop
As with most families, Spring brings many firsts such as graduation and prom. This year we had a couple of firsts as well. My daughter Vanessa waited for years to get pregnant and announced in January she was pregnant with her first child due in August. Unfortunately, she was laid off in March from her new job and dealing with the stress of less income, stuck in the house with nothing much to do, and the expense of a new mortgage. Thru many phone calls to mom, and relaxation techniques, she is learning to overcome this stressful time and is now assured that this is “meant to be” as she is blessed with being able to rest during her pregnancy.
My son, Jason had an elaborate wedding and reception planned at the Estate on Second in Santa Ana, CA for May 10, 2020. One hundred and fifty invitations were sent, caterers and photographers paid in full and then ol’ Rona showed up. The bride was less than pleased, while my son took it all in stride. They ended up getting “Hitched at the Honda Center” in Anaheim, CA on May 15, in a parking lot. Those that were there to witness the celebration were told to observe from their vehicles. It looked like a drive-in movie, complete with 6 booths for the to-be-married couples and a booth for the county recorder. Not what they had in mind, but they were grateful and blessed to have the memorable opportunity, and the couple is very happy. We had a small gathering afterwards, complete with an Anaheim Ducks cake. That will be a story to tell the kids and grandkids!
What's in your Kitchen? Share your Quarantine Recipes with Us! - By: Monica Yepes and Jan Zari, NCBC Impact Editorial Committee
The past 4 months have made us very familiar with our kitchens and may have unearthed long-forgotten kitchen devices, recipes that were bookmarked months and years ago, and/or a new love and appreciation for creativity and innovation in the kitchen that is equally matched by a distaste for washing dishes!
We’d like to extend an invitation to our readers to share your favorite quarantine recipes with the NCBC Impact Editorial Committee! Feel free to share an old family recipe, a recipe that’s a big hit with your kids, your favorite quarantine snack, an indulgent dessert or tasty drink that’s gotten you through those rough days, or a new creation that you might have made in your kitchen by accident! The possibilities are endless! Please send your recipes to Impact@ncbcweb.com.
Over the next few weeks and months, we will collect member-submitted recipes and put them together in a digital NCBC Quarantine Kitchen Cookbook! Below, please find a couple of our personal favorites:
To make this frothy coffee beverage, whisk together equal parts instant coffee, sugar, and hot water until creamy, similar to the texture of whipped cream. Serve it over hot or iced milk.
Ingredients for One Serving:
For the coffee:
2 Tbsp instant coffee
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp hot water
3/4 cup hot or iced milk
For the flavors (choose one):
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp caramel sauce
· Boil some hot water in a tea kettle or in a small saucepan.
· In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, add the instant coffee, sugar, and hot water. Whisk until the color becomes light and the texture is frothy—about 5 minutes. This will be much easier for you if you use an electric mixer.
· Once the coffee is frothy, add in your flavoring. Whisk for another 15 seconds or so. Remove the electric mixer and mix the rest with a spatula, until everything is combined.
· Scoop the whipped coffee on top of milk. Top with any desired toppings, like extra chocolate or caramel sauce. Mix and enjoy!
Disney Parks has shared their famous iconic Disney churro recipe for their fans to enjoy while the parks are closed, a must eat if you visit any of their parks worldwide! These fan favorites can now be made to enjoy at home! Perfect for summer or any time you feel like adding a little sweetness to your day. It’s almost as good as enjoying this treat while on vacation... almost.
Disney Churro Bites
1 cup water
8 tablespoons butter
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon, divided
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups vegetable or canola oil
½ cup sugar
· Combine water, butter, salt, and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon in 1 ½-quart saucepan over medium heat. Bring pot to rolling boil.
· Reduce heat to low.
· Add flour and stir vigorously until mix forms a ball. Remove from heat and let rest for 5-7 min.
· Add eggs, one at a time, and stir until combined. Set aside.
· Using caution, heat oil in medium skillet or 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat or until temperature reaches 350˚.
· Spoon dough into piping bag fitted with large star tip. Pipe 1-inch strip of dough over saucepan, cut with knife, and drop into hot oil. Repeat until churro bites fill saucepan with room to fry.
· Fry churro bites until golden brown. Remove with slotted spoon or mesh spider strainer.
· Drain churro bites on paper towel.
· Mix sugar and ½ teaspoon cinnamon in medium bowl. Toss in churro bites until coated. Place on serving plate and serve with favorite dipping sauce.
What's your Work at Home Nickname? - By: Mindy Smith aka Leftover Pizza Panther and Jan Zari aka Pad Thai Knight, NCBC Impact Editorial Committee
We all need a little bit of laughter and positivity to get us through the day! Enjoy some of our favorite work from home memes and quotes that have helped to uplift our spirits on a “ruff” day.
Want a creative and funny way to determine your “Work at Home Nickname?” Take the last thing you ate + your high school mascot and see what you come up with! Here are some of our favorites from Mindy’s office:
Most Likely to be Reported to the Audubon Society: Grilled Wings Eagle
Most Likely to be Googled: Yogurt Zizzer; Banana Kaw; Chicken Fried Rice Green Wave
Most Fun to Say Out Loud: Pop Tart Shamrock; Ding Dong Tiger; Blueberry Cougar
Most Likely to Have Graduated from the Same School: Apple Dump Cake Panther; Leftover Pizza Panther; Cheesecake Panther; Protein Crisp Panther; Banana Panther
Happy August, NCBC Members! It feels like time has just been flying by, and I hope that you and yours are all staying happy and healthy! It felt strange to put together an August issue without discussing the Annual Conference, so the Impact Editorial Committee has worked hard to bring you an edition filled with the latest NCBC news, including a message from our new President, Una O’Boyle and messages from our newly-elected Officers, Board Members, and newly-appointed NCBC Staff Members. I would like to thank each of our Committee Chairs who submitted updates on the latest work and developments from their committees, and I am glad that we are able to showcase and recognize the hard work and accomplishments of our committees, as well as those of you who have made such a positive difference in our local courts and greater bankruptcy community. To our outgoing Board Members, Mona Sparks and Mary Schott, outgoing Co-Historian, Jennifer Paro, our outgoing President, Eddy Emmons, and outgoing Past President, Gina Thomas, it has been an immense pleasure working with all of you! I’ve truly valued your leadership, friendship, and all of the opportunities that we have been able to collaborate on various NCBC projects and programs, and I look forward to seeing you all again very soon!
This year, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as the Co-Chair for the LEAD Academy Sub-Committee, working once again with Sandy Smith (Co-Chair), Jamie Smith, Kathy Noel, Melody Siefert, and Woody Parks, with the addition of Megan Moore, who completed the successful 2019 LEAD Academy Pilot Program. This year brought about a few changes to the LEAD Academy Program, the most significant of which involved the LEAD Academy Workshop, which was held last year, one day prior to the start of the 2019 Conference in Chicago. With the cancellation of the 2020 Anaheim Conference came a need to do some recalculations to figure out how to run the LEAD Academy program without its in-person workshop, which had already started by the time the Anaheim Conference was cancelled.
Working together with the talented, hardworking, and resourceful committee members and our exceeded dedicated LEAD Academy faculty members, Barry Lander, Gina Zadra Walton, and Beverly Griffeth-Bryant, and with the support of the NCBC Board, this year’s program was converted into a fully-online leadership development program, with the full-day LEAD Academy Workshop to be held in an interactive online format via Zoom.
The committee and faculty members worked around the clock to learn the ins and outs of Zoom to be able to present their training materials in a way that was informative, engaging, and fun, while also learning how to effectively troubleshoot any and all potential technical issues that may arise for our presenters and our class of 27 LEAD Academy participants. During the week of July 13 to 17, learning sessions on leadership topics including the leadership compass, the importance of SMART goals, influencing others, individual values and strengths, and culture, trust, and communication were held via Zoom. Attendees were able to get the full experience of learning and interacting with one another from the comfort of their own homes or offices, and initial feedback has been overwhelmingly positive! It was amazing to see several months of hard work come to fruition in what we hope was a positive and informative experience for all. Thank you once again to all!
Last, but certainly not least, I would like to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of this year’s Impact Editorial Committee: Jeff Peirce, Carri Marshall, Laura Bax, Mindy Smith, Monica Yepes, Shannon McKenna, Tammi Boswell, Tanisha Lozano, Jennifer Mahar, Deanna Anderson, Heather Burse, and Shawna Taylor. Your creativity and willingness to try new things really have really shone in the latest issue of this newsletter, and I thank you all for your willingness to contribute to this effort! I truly miss the one time per year where our committee gets a chance to interact and mingle with membership at the Information Sharing session, but please feel free to communicate with us at any time via email at Impact@ncbcweb.com. I encourage you to take part in our new interactive features, including our Quarantine Cookbook, Silver Lining Stories, hiking photo sharing and to participate in our “Step into Fall” Walking Challenge! We’d love to hear from you!
I hope this finds you and your loved ones well. Our world, as we know it, has completely changed our work requirements and lifestyle choices. I could never have imagined a situation such as the COVID-19 pandemic during my tenure as NCBC President, let alone my life. Business as "unusual" is the new norm as we adapt accordingly. Each day provides an opportunity to pick up the pieces and review the lessons learned from the events that have transpired in the last two months. I look forward to the day I can be in the physical presence of my colleagues, friends, and family members.
Historically, this "Spring" issue of the Impact would be full of information for our annual education conference—this is not the case this year. We are disappointed and saddened that we will not be able to meet as a group this year. We had just completed preparations for a wonderful program. Due to so many uncertainties, it was apparent that we could not proceed with the conference.
But for a moment, imagine yourself sitting in the main ballroom among 600 of your NCBC peers. Everyone is laughing and having fun, meeting new colleagues, and partaking in the morning festivities. As I take the stage, I welcome you to the 40th annual educational program in Anaheim, California, on July 7. I would have recognized all the accomplishments of Kathy Campbell, Meredith Klassen, and the California Central Bankruptcy Court. On behalf of NCBC, we offer them our heartfelt appreciation for their efforts to provide our members with the best possible experience. Also, a special thanks to the members of the Education Committee for taking the time to review and vet over 40 potential breakout sessions for the conference. As I reflect, it would have been the perfect start to a great conference. If there is a bright side to this situation, we are hoping that some of the hard work can be applied when we do go to Anaheim in 2023.
This is my last opportunity to address you as the President, and this will be my final President's Message. I want to thank the NCBC Officers, Board of Governors, and NCBC Staff I've worked with these past two years. All of these incredible individuals volunteer an unmeasurable amount of their time. They are dedicated to fulfilling the NCBC mission concerning Leadership, Advocacy, Education, and Solutions. I was the 23rd President, and it has been an honor to serve such an exceptional organization. On July 9, 2020, I will pass on the torch to Una O'Boyle, who will undoubtedly provide this excellent organization with leadership to move onward toward the future.
Be well, stay safe, and live each day to the fullest!
NCBC LEAD Academy Seeks to Develop the Court Leaders of the Future - By: Woody Parks, NCBC LEAD Academy Sub-Committee
After last year’s successful pilot, the NCBC Lead Academy launches another group of future leaders.
Basics of the LEAD Academy
Last year, the NCBC chose to address the national need of a leadership development program open to any bankruptcy court employee. It was a big task, but a subcommittee was formed and developed the LEAD Academy: Leadership, Excellence, Achievement, and Development, stressing active leadership skills taught by experienced court leaders. The LEAD Academy Pilot Program was launched before the Annual Conference in Chicago. Leadership topics covered included:
Participants were supported on their journeys by mentors, who helped guide them on their journeys through the program using a wide variety of learning resources over a four-month period. A full-day LEAD Academy Workshop at the Chicago conference was the highlight of the program as each of the 48 participants were in attendance and enjoyed educational sessions facilitated by Beverly Griffeth-Bryant, Lisa Haney, John Kohler, Barry Lander, Sandy Smith, and Gina Zadra Walton. The program concluded weeks after the conference with the creation of an Individual Development Plan, which participants created with input and feedback from their mentors.
Changes for 2020
Course evaluations, interviews with staff and participants, and beaming faces after the workshop demonstrated the LEAD Academy’s success. No significant program changes were needed for our next class, but the selection process for this year was revised. For this year’s cohort, participants were nominated by their Clerk of Court to allow for common goals to be made between participants and CUEs. Class size was held smaller for greater interaction at the workshop, so each court could nominate only one participant. This year’s LEAD Academy has 28 eager and talented participants, who began their own journeys at the beginning of April. In the absence of a conference this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the LEAD Academy Workshop will be conducted virtually, covering the topics remotely while allowing for full interaction and engagement with all participants.
Last August, I had the opportunity to attend the NCBC for the first time since joining the court in 1998. When I first got word that my court approved for me to attend the conference, I was excited not only for the possibilities of what I would learn at the conference, but because I was going to be able to visit a new city.
I arrived in Chicago and was excited to connect with both old and new friends. The first day of the conference featured an opening ceremony and welcoming remarks from NCBC President, Eddy Emmons. The featured plenary speaker was facilitated by a group called Second City, a performance group famous for developing award-winning content. They take the lessons of improvisation to the workplace with a fun and interactive presentation. I was impressed with their wit, and they kept us laughing with each new skit.
For the next couple of days, we attended some lively breakout sessions. My personal favorite was the session entitled, “Instantly! Improve Your Memory.” Of course, the nightlife in Chicago was fun, but I especially had a good time hunting down the best Chicago pizza I could find. Seeing all of the exhibits at InfoShare and attending the beautiful dinner at the Crystal Gardens at the Navy Pier capped off an amazing conference experience for me. Illinois Northern did a great job with the educational program, including planning and executing a lovely welcome reception and dinner event. Thanks for a good time, Chicago! I cannot wait to see everyone at our next conference!
The LEAD Academy Spotlight is a new feature in the IMPACT that allows NCBC members across the nation to get to know participants of the first-ever LEAD Academy!
Name: Dawn Meador
Title: Courtroom Deputy
Court: Missouri Western Bankruptcy Court
What was the time commitment for the program?
As a participant of the pilot program, we had a 4-month commitment. We had a workbook with 6 different sections that we had to work on throughout the program. Each section contained a leadership skill in which we had assignments to complete and discuss with our assigned mentor.
How did you integrate that into your work-life balance?
When I first met with my mentor, we set up a meeting schedule for each assignment so we both knew when we would be meeting to discuss each topic. Having something on your calendar with a due date was beneficial to keep us on track throughout the program. I knew that that I could get the assignments completed before my mentor meetings if I could set 15 or 20 minutes aside each day or 2. In some instances, not many, if I had a busy week at work, I would bring my workbook home and complete a task that I didn’t get to. Those were usually the extra content given to us for each lesson if we wanted to dive deeper into the leadership skill.
Mentorship was a big component of the LEAD Academy. Can you share with us a bit about how the mentoring relationship has impacted you?
I think having a mentor was beneficial in many ways. There were 2 ways in which we were assigned a mentor. We could request one or have someone assigned to us based on our background and career goals. I opted for the latter because that allowed me to meet someone new and speak freely about any frustrations I may have had at work. It was a safe space in which I could express any conflicts I had without fear of any blowback. I still communicate with my mentor. In fact, just the other day, she called me to discuss NextGen CM/ECF. Her court is getting ready to implement NextGen and she knew I was a court mentor for Judge Review Packets and Workspace so she wanted to pick my brain on our experience of going live.
As part of this program, participants completed a pre-conference workshop at the 2019 NCBC Conference in Chicago. Can you tell us a bit about what that was like?
That was probably my favorite part of the program; that and the Clifton Strengths assessment. If I remember correctly, we were grouped by our top strength. I got to meet a lot of people from other courts that have the same interests as I do regarding career advancement, as most of us in my group were Courtroom Deputies. The pre-conference workshop was a full day, but it flew by. I am a visual and tactile learner so experiencing this in person really drove it home for me on how all of the leadership skills we covered leading up to the workshop could be put to use not only at work, but personally as well.
How has your participation in the LEAD Academy impacted your career?
As John Maxwell said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” LEAD Academy taught me that being a leader can be done from any position. You don’t have to have a title of supervisor or manager to be a leader. A manager is only as strong as their weakest link so it’s okay to lead from where you are currently. If I can be a positive influence on those around me and hold them to a higher standard, our team as a whole will be that much stronger.
Are there any additional thoughts you'd like to share with us?
If you were curious about LEAD Academy, but were nervous about applying, just do it. The relationships you forge will stay with you forever. The skills you learn are priceless and something you can apply to all areas of your life.
The NCBC Member Spotlight is a feature that allows NCBC members across the nation to get to know one another. If you would like to be featured in a future NCBC Member Spotlight, please contact Jennifer Mahar. In this issue, we meet NCBC member Becky Nahr!
Name: Becky Nahr
Position: Financial Specialist
Court: United States Bankruptcy Court, District of Kansas
How long have you been with the Federal Judiciary?
I started at the Bankruptcy Court in November of 2006. So, 13 years and still counting.
How long have you been a member of the NCBC, and how do you get involved?
I’ve been an NCBC Member for 10 years and still going. For the last 8 years, I have been our Court’s NCBC Local Representative. I branched out in 2017 to be part of the Membership Committee, and now I am on the Mentorship Committee.
What has been your favorite NCBC Conference experience?
My favorite NCBC Conference was New York in 2018. I enjoyed all the breakout sessions, and getting to know other conference attendees. It was a great networking opportunity! The one breakout session that I really enjoyed was “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” I really enjoyed the presentation about how we need to practice gratitude and choose happiness. If we are not happy, we need to figure out why, and make changes! To top the conference off was the Broadway musical about communicating. New York also offered so many historical sites to visit and the cookies at Schmackary’s were out of this world!
How would you like to be more involved with the NCBC in the future?
I plan to continue my membership with NCBC indefinitely. I have made many friends and mentors who are a great resource pool to call on. I hope to continue to be part of the Mentorship Committee, as this committee is a great resource in matching mentees with mentors. Who knows, eventually I may even run for a Board position!
NCBC’s Mentorship Program committee members are excited to share that we have four (4) new mentee/mentor partnerships! After receiving new mentee applicants, the committee coordinated on pairing them with mentor volunteers based on areas of interests and expertise. The partners committed to making a minimum of two (2) contacts per month within their six (6) month period. During this time, each pair will discuss needs, goals and professional development interests as expressed by the mentee during the application process. The communications are completely confidential between the mentee and mentor, as mutually agreed upon in a Memorandum of Understanding.
All NCBC members are welcome to apply if interested in volunteering in either capacity so we encourage you to view the information on our website at: http://www.ncbcweb.com/mentor-program
If you have any questions or would like additional information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to anyone on the committee. Hope to partner you with someone soon!
How to Get Social Security Help While their Offices are Closed - By: Cristina Querubin Rogers, NCBC Benefits Committee
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has closed its local offices across the country for in-person service until further notice effective Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
The SSA’s decision is intended to protect the health of the two groups of people it typically serves—seniors and those with underlying medical conditions who are most at risk for potentially life-threatening complications associated with the coronavirus.
However, those who need help with their Social Security benefits, the SSA suggests the following ways to access their assistance:
Visit the official SSA Website, www.SSA.gov. Through SSA’s official website, you can do the following:
Check out the FAQ page. The SSA notes that you can find answer to many questions through its FAQ page. Some questions you will find there include:
Call your local office. Although you cannot personally visit your local office now, you can still call to ask questions, or to receive help applying for benefits. Go to www.SSA.gov website and use the field office locator to reach a location near you.
Wait for a local SSA office to contact you. According to SSA, if you previously scheduled an in-office appointment, a SSA staffer will call you and handle the appointment over the phone. The SSA staffer will add this important detail: “Our call may come from a PRIVATE number and not from a U.S. Government phone. Please remember that our employees will not threaten you or ask for any form of payment.”
Call the national SSA office. You can call the national SSA office at (800) 772-1213 or at (TTY 800-325-0778). Calling this number can patch you in to “automated service options you can use without waiting to speak with a telephone representative. You can find a list of these automated services on the SSA website.
Check out the SSA Coronavirus Webpage. The SSA has created a webpage for Social Security & Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Updates. Included in the webpage are answers to frequently asked questions, including information on what the SSA is doing during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether or not Social Security benefits and Supplemental Security Income will be affected, scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic, services available online and by phone, unemployment insurance, and more.
For more information, please visit the SSA Social Security & Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Updates Webpage for more information.
How can I stay updated about what SSA is doing during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Please continue to check this web page for updates. You may select Subscribe above to receive alerts from us when we add or change information on this page.
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“To buy when others are despondently selling and sell when others are greedily buying requires the greatest fortitude and pays the greatest reward.”
-John Templeton, Founder of Templeton Funds
When you think about it, investing our money is really a scary proposition. The quote by John Templeton really says it all, and one of the secrets to investment success requires us to do the opposite of what our gut tells us. Recent events in our financial markets have left many second-guessing themselves and their retirement accounts. Over the past month, I’ve been talking with federal employees all over the country and would like to share some thoughts and ideas discussed in many of those conversations.
Avoid Rash Decisions
If you've been watching the market lately, perhaps the first question on your mind is, "Should I make a big change in my investments?" In reality, a volatile market isn't the best time to do a complete makeover of your portfolio, especially if you have long-term financial goals you're trying to address. Even if you feel that your portfolio needs adjusting, maintaining a firm grasp on your fundamental investment strategy can help you be more thoughtful about making any changes.
Think of each investment as a tool in your investing tool kit, and your asset allocation strategy as your blueprint. Some investments are generally designed to pursue long-term growth, others to provide income, and still others to represent stability. Each is valuable in its own way, but it doesn't make sense to use a hammer to remake your portfolio if what you really need is a screwdriver to make minor adjustments. Don't randomly abandon one investment for another unless you know its intended role in your portfolio, whether that role is still appropriate, and the pros and cons of any replacement you're considering.
Remember that diversification can help offset the risks of certain holdings with those of others. When one type of investment is losing ground, another may be gaining or holding steady.
Diversification and asset allocation cannot ensure a profit or guarantee against a loss, but they can help you understand and manage investment risk.
Could this be a chance to rebalance at a discount?
In a volatile market, it's easy to allow your emotions to influence your investment decisions. But if you can keep your cool while those around you are losing theirs, you may be able to take advantage of potential opportunities.
One way to do that is by reviewing your portfolio to determine if it's time to rebalance your asset allocation or modify your level of diversification.
Rebalancing means adjusting your portfolio to get it back to your original target allocation. In today's market, it often makes sense to first determine whether that original target is still appropriate for your needs. If it makes sense to return to your original allocation or establish a new one, there are two ways to proceed. You can sell securities in some asset classes and invest the proceeds in others, and/or redirect new investment dollars into selected asset classes until the target allocation is reached.
If your current allocation is appropriate, but there are concerns with your overall level of diversification, it's possible to shift some investments within a given asset class.
Asset allocation and diversification can help manage investment risk and might better position your portfolio for the future. The silver lining to broad-based market turmoil is that you may be able to acquire some investments at a discount relative to what you would have paid when the market was up.
Continuing to invest may help you stay on course
In the current market environment, the value of your holdings may be fluctuating widely — and it's natural to feel tentative about further investment. However, regularly adding to an account that's designed for a long-term goal may cushion the emotional impact of market swings. If losses are offset even in part by new savings, the bottom-line number on your statement might not be quite so discouraging. And a basic principle of investing is that buying during a down market may help your portfolio grow when the market turns upward again.
If you are investing a specific amount regularly regardless of fluctuating price levels (as in a typical workplace retirement plan), you are practicing dollar-cost averaging. Using this approach, you may be getting a bargain by continuing to buy when prices are down. However, you should consider your financial and psychological ability to continue purchases through periods of fluctuating price levels or economic distress; dollar-cost averaging loses much of its benefit if you stop just when prices are reduced, and it can't guarantee a profit or protect against a loss.
If you can't bring yourself to invest during this period of uncertainty, try not to let the volatility derail your savings program completely. If necessary, to help address your concerns, you could continue to save, but direct new savings into a cash-alternative investment until your comfort level rises. Though you might not be buying at a discount, you could be accumulating cash reserves that could be invested when you are ready. The key is not to let short-term anxiety make you forget your long-term plan. If you have questions or would like to discuss your situation in more detail, feel free to email me.
All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal, and there is no guarantee that any investment strategy will be successful.
The return and principal value of stocks fluctuate with changes in market conditions. Shares, when sold, may be worth more or less than their original cost. Asset allocation and diversification are methods used to help manage investment risk; they do not guarantee a profit or protect against investment loss.
James De La Torre has conducted federal benefit and financial planning seminars all over the country. He has been a keynote speaker at federal conferences and works with federal professional organizations on ways to improve the communication of federal benefits to their membership. Jim has appeared as a guest on “Fed Talk” on the Federal News Radio Network, discussing the gaps in federal benefits and the financial impacts employees face. Jim holds a Charter Retirement Planning Counselor’s (CRPC) designation from the College of Financial Planning, and is a member of the Financial Planning Association. Please direct questions or comments directly to James at email@example.com.
I was extremely fortunate to be selected as one of the recipients for the NCBC Scholarship/Tuition Assistance program to attend the annual conference in Chicago last August. I was able to put my scholarship to good use to pay for the conference registration fee so I could attend the conference and participate in the MSU graduation ceremony. Yes, I’m an MSU graduate….woohoo!
I enjoyed the opening plenary speakers at the conference. They were very entertaining with their singing talent and comedy sketches about the everyday challenges we all face at work. I also enjoyed and learned a lot from one of the breakout sessions I attended called, “The Power of Empathy: The New Superpower,” by Julie Owen. I can definitely apply what I learned not only in the workplace, but also in my personal life. I also had fun meeting new people when I volunteered to help staff the Awards and Scholarships Program table during InfoShare. I was able to share my experience with conference attendees to let them know how simple the scholarship application process is, and that they can nominate a co-worker for their outstanding public service, administrative excellence, or distinguished achievements through the Awards Program. I have had valuable learning experiences and have enjoyed meeting and networking with both new and familiar faces from across the judiciary. I have learned a lot from the information that they have shared with me, and I have been able to share my own experiences as well. It is interesting to see how the other courts do their work! Attending the NCBC conferences has also strengthened the bonds that I have with staff from my own court.
Overall, the conference was educational and a very valuable experience for me. I would like to thank the NCBC once again for giving me this wonderful opportunity, and I encourage my fellow NCBC members to take advantage of all the wonderful opportunities that NCBC has to offer!
IT Security Office Telework Guidance: Working Securely from Home - From: Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
As the judiciary continues its adoption of telework, one goal to keep in mind is ensuring all work is completed securely. On the pages that follow are several key elements to consider when keeping your home office and work as safe as possible.
If you have any additional questions about teleworking safely, please contact your local help desk, Circuit IT Security Officer, or ITSO for more information.
Beware of Social Engineering
Scammers can use email, phone calls, and even text messages in their attempts to gain access to your systems and information. Be sure you know how to spot common social engineering techniques, and what to do when you see them!
Secure Your Home Network
Take the time to secure your home network, and all devices attached to it. Keeping all your devices current with patches and changing your router’s default administrator password will go a long way toward fortifying your home office!
Use Strong Passwords/Authentication
Using strong passwords and other authentication is essential to keeping your systems, accounts, and information safe from prying eyes. Given the additional risks associated with remote access, consider using passphrases and two-factor authentication for all your accounts. If passphrases are not an option, your passwords should be at least 8 characters long and complex (i.e., with a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters). Don’t write your passwords down and change them at least every 90 days.
Restrict Work Systems to Work
The judiciary issued you devices for work. Discourage your family and significant others from using your laptop or other work devices for personal use. When not using them, secure your judiciary devices so they are not immediately accessible by anyone who should not otherwise have access.
Using a Personal Device? Use Antivirus Software
Cyber threats and criminals often use malware to gain access to systems, accounts, and information they shouldn’t have. If using a personally owned device for judiciary business, install antivirus software to keep your system free of malware. Be sure to configure this software to update automatically and to scan your system daily, so you’re always protected from the latest threats.
Using a Personal Device? Keep Your System Patched and Up-to-Date
Apply the most recent updates from software and system manufacturers so your system has the latest security protections available. This is particularly important when using your personal device for judiciary business. Just like with AV software, set your system to download and install updates automatically and never miss a single patch!
Using a Personal Device? Use Care if You Share
If you are using a family computer to telework, your entire family’s computing habits can now impact the judiciary. Be on the safe side. Delete any sensitive judiciary data from your computer at the end of each workday. Doing so helps prevent a family member’s online mistake from becoming a judiciary security incident!
Have Back-up Contact Information
When working from home, it’s best to expect the unexpected. Make sure you can contact the National Support Desk, your local help desk, and your supervisor if you lose access to your judiciary email or other judiciary resources. Also ensure you can contact the Security Operations Center with security-related concerns. Make a list for your desk and keep it somewhere where you can find it easily, or input these numbers into your phone. Make sure to include the following contacts:
FJC Webinar on Leading During a Pandemic: Science-Informed Techniques - From: Federal Judicial Center
The Federal Judicial Center, in partnership with the NeuroLeadership Institute conducted a 60-minute webinar focused on leadership decision-making and actions during this time of great uncertainty. A recording of this webinar is available to all judiciary staff until June 12, 2020.
Dr. David Rock, co-founder and CEO of the NeuroLeadership Institute, addressed the psychological impact this pandemic is having on leaders and staff, identified the big decisions leaders need to make, discussed how to offset threats and keep staff engaged, and proposed opportunities that exist to make virtual work better for everyone.
For more information about this webinar, please contact Education Specialist Jessie Folk at 202-450-0963 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For general information on leadership and management education for judiciary executives, visit the Center’s Executive Education webpage.
Teleworking, when utilized correctly, can be an effective tool for high productivity and positive results, no matter your title or position in your court! For many of us, teleworking has been a brand new experience, and is something that may not be easy or intuitive—especially since many of us have gotten used to completing our work and going about our work day in a similar way and in a familiar environment for 10, 20, or 30 or more years! Many of us have recently begun teleworking. As we get into the swing of things with regards to telework, we will share some simple tips and tricks to make the transition into your new virtual office just a little bit easier.
Get “Ready” for Work
Separate Work Life from Home Life
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Take Regular Breaks
Make Your Home Setup as Ergonomic as Possible
Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned teleworker, you have your own way of working outside the office. It’s also essential for managers to know their team members and to know how to best support the unique needs of each of their employees. Each type of worker has their own set of characteristics and along with that, their own unique challenges and way to maintain productivity. Which one do you identify with most?
• This employee loves to work independently and thrives outside the structure and confinement of a traditional office. However, they still need critical resources to continue their performance of producing great work.
• Managers: PRO TIP – The key to their optimal support is effective communication. Get their feedback on what can you do to support them, which in turn will help you create the most beneficial work experience for everyone.
• This remote worker really doesn’t have a preference either way they work, they enjoy a mix of remote and in-office work.
• Managers: PRO TIP – They maybe be somewhat of a challenge to keep engaged, but create a bit of structure for them with monthly check-ins to reevaluate their schedule and stay flexible.
• This is a seasoned veteran employee, but a newbie to the remote work scene. Working from home is a novelty, and the newness wears off once the anticipation of facing new challenges of work/life balance sets in.
• Managers: PRO TIP – It may be hard to foresee how well this employee will acclimate and
perform with added potential pressures of homeschooling or childcare and teleworking.
Having open communication is a critical component to keeping them engaged. It may be
helpful to match them up with a fellow remote worker who’s savvy and seasoned in the ins and outs
of the remote work world.
• This employee is super successful and productive working remotely, although they
are extremely focused no matter what the work environment. Alternatively, they may get
burned out in trying to find the right work-life balance. It’s important for them to set
regular working hours.
• Managers: PRO TIP – Reassure and communicate to these employees their value and contribution
to the team while keeping them aware of normal business hours.
The Solo Act:
• Just as the name suggests, this person works best on solo projects. Not requiring a lot of
supervision, this does come with a bit of a downside that innovation may be missing in some of
their work product. This employee should keep open opportunities to collaborate with other team
• Managers: PRO TIP – Encourage and support working on collaborating with others
while still acknowledging their strengths. Promote the benefits of bringing others on board to
their projects, such as gaining different perspectives and increased success, which in turn, will
make work more meaningful.
• Not one to mix in with office gossip or banter, they are more reserved and inclined to thrive
while working remotely. They can, however, tend to be forgotten if they don’t have the
normal face time with in-person interaction with their coworkers and managers.
• Manager: PRO TIP - Keep interaction with these employees with Skype meetings and regular
check-ins, making them feel included and engaged.
The Creature of Habit:
• Likes to have every hour down the minute planned out during their day. This gives them a
sense of perfect balance between any personal tasks and accomplishing their work tasks
smoothly, without any hiccups. Any last-minute meetings may cause a bit of stress for this
creature of habit.
• Managers: PRO TIP - If you embrace their need for structure by assigning tasks
and projects based on repetition;
facilitating in their routine will assist in their successful work environment.
With a large portion of the judiciary teleworking due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to share some tips for staying healthy while working from home. While similar lists have been circulated for staying productive, this list will focus primarily on staying healthy. There is some overlap.
1. Create a Designated Work Area (Avoid the Kitchen).
Designating a work area in your home helps to keep you organized, puts you in a working mindset, and signals to others in your home when you are working. For most people, the couch is not sufficient. Another place to avoid: the kitchen.
If you set up your home office in an area generally reserved for eating, you may be tempted to eat more often. Keep the refrigerator and pantry out of your line of sight. Try to only make trips to the kitchen for scheduled meals, snacks, and other legitimate reasons.
If you find it hard to walk by the breakroom knowing that doughnuts are sitting on the table, chances are you will find it equally difficult to have your refrigerator in constant view just beyond your computer monitor.
2. Drink Plenty of Water. Avoid Excessive Caffeine.
We all know the importance of drinking plenty of water. Just because you may not have a water cooler at your house does not mean you should slack off on staying hydrated. More on water cooler talk later.
An extra cup (or two) of coffee may seem like a good way to pass the time, but caffeine can make you dehydrated due to its diuretic effects. Additionally, excessive caffeine can cause anxiety, fatigue, and sleeplessness.
3. Set a Schedule and Stick to It.
File this one under “mental health.” One of the crucial things you can do while working from home is to set a schedule and stick to it. Get up at the same time each day and go through your regular morning routines. Schedule meals, snacks, and workouts, just like you schedule your meetings.
Sign off for the day when it is time to sign off. For some, this may seem like a no-brainer. However, for others (myself included), it is tempting to work longer hours from home than you would typically work at the office. After all, you are already home. There is no commute or traffic. Why not put in an extra hour or two (or three, or four). As productive as this may sound, it is not healthy. You must maintain a healthy work-life balance. When your work hours are over, call it a day. That work will still be waiting for you tomorrow morning.
4. Plan Your Meals and Snacks. Eat Healthily.
Plan your meals and snacks. If you usually pack your lunch and snacks for the office, do the same at home. Then limit yourself to eating only the meals and snacks you have prepared in advance.
Stay away from junk food. Try to keep it out of your house by not buying it in the first place. Otherwise, you may end up eating just because you can. Keep food in the kitchen and work in your designated work area. Having a bag of chips and a bottle of soda by your workstation is a bad idea for several reasons.
5. Stay Connected to Your Co-Workers.
Earlier, I mentioned the water cooler. Water cooler conversations and other casual interactions with your co- workers are essential. A lot of creativity and problem-solving happens during informal exchanges with your colleagues. Also, during this time of uncertainty, we should periodically check in with one another and make sure our colleagues are doing OK. They may feel isolated inside. You may feel isolated inside.
Pick up the phone and call. Instant messages are OK, but phone conversations are better. You should talk to one or more of your co-workers each day. They may appreciate that call more than you know.
Make your workout part of your schedule. Get up at least once an hour and move around for five minutes. Many smartwatches have features that will remind you to do this. You can also find apps for your phone or computer. If all else fails, set an alarm.
Go outside. Those stay-at-home orders are not “remain- indoors orders.” It is vital to get outdoors. Your body needs fresh air and sunshine. This will contribute both to your physical and mental health.
Springtime is here. Go outside and enjoy it. You can do so while still practicing social distancing. Now more than ever, you should be taking steps to keep your body and mind healthy.
7 Steps to Turn your Goals into Reality (Article from WorkLife4YOU) - By: Cristina Querubin Rogers, NCBC Benefits Committee
How many times have you set a goal with complete earnestness: you are “going to be more organized and productive,” “make a real effort to exercise,” or “start a diet tomorrow.” Only to find that, at some point (sometimes sooner rather than later), your enthusiasm fades away, and your good intentions amount to nothing.
It’s the most common scenario in the world — the initial honest and whole-hearted ambition to achieve a goal; followed by inaction, not enough action, or getting side- tracked; and ending with guilt or giving up (or both). It happens to the best of us. It’s inertia at work, mixed with a bit of laziness as well as the very human trait of giving in to desires despite good intentions.
So how do you go from the theory of achieving goals to action and success? Here are seven simple steps that you can follow today.
• Make a date. Right now. Inertia is beat only by movement. Once you get going, momentum builds up and inertia is no longer a factor. The key is to get started. Take action. Not tomorrow, not later today, not in an hour, not when you finish reading this article. Right now! Decide to take the first step to make your goal a reality and make an appointment to do it. Then make that appointment the most important appointment on your schedule, more important than a doctor’s appointment or a meeting with your boss.
• Set a small, achievable goal. It can be intimidating to get started and hard to keep going, especially if you set a goal that is very challenging. Set yourself up for success by setting a realistic, very, very doable goal. It’s the only way to beat inertia. If you haven’t exercised in years, setting a goal of exercising 45 minutes a day 7 days a week may not be realistically achievable. In fact, you might injure yourself, which would really derail you from achieving your goal. Walking for 10 minutes a day, five days a week, however, is probably very achievable.
• Commit yourself, big time. It’s this commitment that will keep you going after you overcome inertia. Your enthusiasm may get you started, but when that enthusiasm wanes, you’re going to need determination to make your goal a reality. Make a commitment, and do it publicly. Make sure as many people as possible are aware of your goal.
• Baby steps, baby. The best way to change is through one small step at a time. Start with a small change and build on it consistently to move towards your goal. How is this different from the above step, setting a small and achievable goal? It’s the same concept, but extended beyond the initial goal. For example, say you want to be more active, but you haven’t exercised in years. You start by walking 10 minutes a day. In a few weeks when that becomes a habit and feels easy, add five minutes, then five minutes more, and so on. Then walk five minutes to warm up, then jog a minute, walk a couple minutes, jog a minute, and so on. Then jog two minutes and walk one minute. Take a new, small, step towards your goal each week or two. You will barely notice the progression, but it will add up, and soon enough you’ll see some serious progress.
• Hold yourself accountable. You’ve committed yourself publicly, but it’s not enough to just tell people your goal. You must ask them to support you by holding you accountable. Then report your progress to them regularly. Daily is better than weekly. Reporting to them makes sure that you will think twice about being lazy and forgoing your action plan.
• Motivate yourself. Accountability and commitment are ways to put positive pressure on yourself -- a form of motivation. If pressure gives you the push toward your goal, motivation gives you the pull. It’s not enough to feel pressure to do something, that it’s something you should do, or that you’ll be a better person for doing it. You must really desire it. You will also want other types of motivation, ways to reward yourself for your progress, and the more the better! Incorporate these into your plan. Tell people about them. Let them help push you along.
• Just keep doing it, no matter what. No one is perfect. You’ll encounter obstacles and temptations. You’ll falter and fall. You’ll make mistakes and get discouraged. Plan for it, accept it, then move on. Keep going towards your goal. No matter what happens, keep going. If you’re taking baby steps, you’re holding yourself accountable, and if you’re actually doing something, you’ll get there!
Hello fellow NCBC members. During these tumultuous times, we are all faced with uncertainties. We are, I hope, all staying home and working remotely, if possible. We are practicing social distancing. I am sure some of us are even hoarding toilet paper, paper towels, Purell and Lysol wipes. Some of us are even making homemade masks and wearing them if we need to go to the store to purchase supplies.
Personally, I am sad for my son who should be playing baseball for the last time as a high school senior, for probably missing out on his senior prom, and possibly, graduation. These kids have worked hard for 12 years and have been looking forward to all the senior events and privileges that are awarded to them. This year, these events are unlikely to happen. Some have plans to start college in the fall, and some schools are talking about not starting their school year until January. I am also sad for my 88-year-old mother who has had to stay home. She does not drive, so she has always taken public transit wherever she needs to go, or she has called one of her children or grandchildren to drive her someplace. But now, most of us do not want to go near her in fear that she will get sick. I have seen her in person twice since this has all started, and each time, my family and I stay in the backyard while she sits on the porch more than six feet away. The traditional Mother’s Day celebrations that my sister and I share with our mother did not look quite the same this year, as we were not able to gather at a restaurant for brunch, but we still took the time to celebrate in the best way we could.
I am sure there are some of you who may have been directly impacted by this virus, whether you or a loved one has been sick. Just know that I hope that you and/or your loved ones are on the mend. I am thinking that the way we have all lived our lives may be altered by all that is going on around the world. I hope that I come away from this experience appreciating people even more, and I can tell you that I will show even more heartfelt appreciation to the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals next time I go to the hospital or see the doctor for an appointment.
I sincerely hope that all of my fellow NCBC and court colleagues are doing well, and my fingers are crossed that we will be seeing one another at our next conference in my court’s hometown, Boston, in 2021. I would love to give a shoutout to the California Central Bankruptcy Court, and all of their staff for planning what would have been a great conference. Much love to you all!
Award Nominations due by June 1, 2020 - By: Mona Sparks, NCBC Treasurer and Awards and Scholarship Committee Chair
Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, … it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Some 160 years ago, Dickens used these opening words as he wrote A Tale of Two Cities.
Often during the worst of times, we see evidence of the best in people. As our hectic worlds have collectively slowed pace, I challenge you to think of those you have witnessed stepping up, stepping out, and impacting the bankruptcy community in a positive way. Annually, the NCBC recognizes individuals and groups of people who have made significant contributions, BUT we need your help to identify the influencers. Won’t you consider nominating someone today? The award criteria and the link for submitting nominations will be available until June 1, 2020 at http://www.ncbcweb.com/awards. I can’t wait to read your nominations.
As I sit here in my home office in mid-April, I find myself reflective. I’m thankful the pandemic is seeming it might be beginning to loosen its grip on my community, my county, my commonwealth and my country. I wish the same for you and your neighborhood. I long for Dickens’ season of hope to begin soon. I sincerely hope you and those you love most are safe and well. May we all exit this season of darkness with a new appreciation for life and thankfulness for those around us.
This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the NCBC! After a group of clerks formed a committee in February of 1980 to explore organizing, for the betterment of the bankruptcy clerk community, NCBC was incorporated in the State of North Carolina later that year. The Articles of Incorporation set forth six purposes for incorporation: to promote higher business standards and better business methods within the bankruptcy court; to secure for the court greater resources so that the public can be better served; to serve as a liaison with agencies, councils, and other organizations within the three branches of government that can have an impact on the bankruptcy court; to develop, implement, and support educational programs designed to assist members with understanding and carrying out their responsibilities; to provide an organization for the exchange of information; and to represent the interest and concerns of the United States Bankruptcy Court Clerks. NCBC has stayed true to its original purpose and has a mission focused on four categories: Leadership, Education, Advocacy, and Solutions.