National Notary Association Chairman Milt Valera received a surprise honor during NNA 2013 Conference in Austin, Texas, last week when he was presented with a “Lifetime Achievement Award.” This was only the third time in NNA history the award has been conferred. Valera, who was unaware that NNA executives and editors had conspired to bestow this honor upon him, reacted with shock and disbelief when President and CEO Tom Heymann made the announcement. The presentation featured a video summarizing Valera’s years of leadership with accolades provided by former Governor of Vermont Jim Douglas, North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, NNA Vice President of Notary Affairs Chuck Faerber, and previous NNA Lifetime Achievement Award recipients Malcolm Morris and Michael Closen, along with several others. Valera joined the NNA in 1969, rising to President and CEO in 1982. During the past three decades, he has transformed the Association into the nation’s leader in best practices serving and advocating for the nation’s community of 4.4 million Notaries. His list of accomplishments is extensive, including his leadership in the creation of two influential sets of standards for Notaries: The Model Notary Act and The Notary Public Code of Professional Responsibility. Valera also founded the Association’s two major publications: The National Notary magazine and the Notary Bulletin, the weekly online newsletter. He initiated almost all of the Association’s major programs and created the most comprehensive Notary education platform in the country. He has also helped to facilitate legislation and rules of ethical conduct, the foundations of Notary best practices. Today, in addition to supporting the NNA with his expertise and innovative ideas, Valera serves as the President of the National Notary Foundation, which supports cancer research, educational programs and disaster relief efforts. He also is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation. For more coverage of NNA 2013, check out the NNA’s Facebook page and the July issue of The National Notary magazine. Phillip Browne is Director of Communications with the National Notary Association.