Amid a week full of engaging sessions focused on “Managing Risks in Today’s World,” Notaries attending the NNA’s 33rd annual Conference heard directly from the Presidents-Elect of two of the most influential organizations of state officials. Their message: the valuable protections Notaries provide to consumers and businesses remain vitally important in today’s economic and business climate. “The Notary is the gatekeeper to honesty and integrity,” said Alabama Secretary of State Beth Chapman during the Conference 2011 Keynote Address. “We must always hold that responsibility very close.” Chapman, who becomes president of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) next month, further emphasized the importance of the fundamentals of notarization — embodied by the NNA’s Recommended Notary Practices and The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility. She said the fundamentals are important because Notaries are “the backbone” to a “highly esteemed profession that protects consumers.” In his Welcome Reception address to more than 500 attendees from 35 states, Maryland Attorney General and President-Elect of the National Association of Attorneys General Douglas Gansler said the Notary’s importance to the economy and American business has never been greater. “You have to be honest and preserve your integrity because you are the guarantors of trust,” he said. Gansler added that, because the days when business was conducted with a handshake are gone, Notaries are essential to establishing trust in America’s daily transactions. “Today you are that handshake. The reliability of the literal and proverbial stamp of approval is what seals the integrity of agreements and contracts.” Chapman and Gansler both reported to Conference attendees that — in their state and national capacities — they remain committed to strengthening the ability of Notaries to protect the public against fraud.