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Introducing Our 2017 Notary Of The Year Honorees

Every year we honor  an extraordinary group of Notaries who go above and beyond their duties as public officials. They demonstrate a profound commitment to serving their communities. Join us at the NNA 2017 Conference in Dallas, Texas, this June to honor these dedicated individuals and find out who will be named Notary of the Year. 

Alisha Allen

Alisha Allen

Home: Wingate, North Carolina
Occupation: Mobile Notary, Notary Law Instructor
Years She Has Been a Notary: 8

It’s one thing to become a Notary because you have a passion for community service and consumer protection. But when you take that skill and use it to train, enlighten and inspire other prospective Notaries, you’ve reached a whole new level.

That’s the journey Alisha Allen embarked upon eight years ago when she first became a Notary. Her motivation at the time was to give back to her community by helping people get their documents notarized at no charge. She also waded into the waters of the Notary Signing Agent business as demand for trained, certified and background screened professionals increased in her county. But along the way she became so intrigued by Notary law and practice that she took the initiative to become a Notary Law Instructor, certified by the North Carolina Secretary of State.

Today Allen teaches mandatory education classes for North Carolina Notary applicants at Richmond County Community College, and is working on making her curriculum available at two other colleges.

“What’s most rewarding for me is that I teach people to not just be a Notary, but to be a Notary professional,” Allen said. “I make sure they understand they must be fair, unbiased and have integrity. Doing anything else goes against what a Notary stands for.”

Allen continues to operate as a mobile Notary, offering 24-hour service and waiving notarization fees for all members of the public. She is also a member of the North Carolina Notary Association where she serves on various committees to promote Notary legislation.

Brenda Charles-Edwards

Brenda Charles-Edwards

Home: Seattle, Washington
Occupation: Founder and CEO, Black Orchid Notary
Years She Has Been a Notary: 25

When you’ve been a Notary for a quarter-century, you learn a great deal about the people in your community, the issues they face, and the hurdles they encounter handling their important personal matters.

Brenda Charles-Edwards, founder and CEO of Black Orchid Notary in Seattle, Washington, has just about seen it all. But one issue has always affected her deeply: financial abuse of the elderly. So as Notary who built her career on the cornerstones of public service and advocacy, and as a businesswoman with a reputation for action, Charles-Edwards did what she does best: she got involved.

She travels to senior centers, nursing homes, hospitals and other venues throughout the greater Seattle area to speak to seniors about the importance of preparing their estates (powers of attorney, advance directives, living trusts, etc.) and maintaining valid identification. “I speak to a lot of different elder groups because they don’t know how to protect themselves, especially since a lot of the danger they face comes from their own family,” Charles-Edwards said.

Charles-Edwards is particularly interested in helping the elderly maintain valid identification documents. Many seniors are denied Notary services because they lack acceptable ID, raising their stress level and vulnerability. So she’s also advocating for changes to the state’s Notary code to allow for loosened satisfactory evidence standards for seniors.

She is no stranger to legislative victories. In 2006 Charles-Edwards testified before the Washington legislature on Notary fee issues, which led to the state doubling the minimum fees for notarization to $10. An expert in general Notary and Notary Signing Agent work, Charles-Edwards is also a mentor for new Notaries in her state, an NNA Notary Ambassador, and is training to be an AARP tax counselor. She will also be a featured presenter at the NNA 2017 Conference this June.

Lorraine Gabryelski

Lorraine Gabryelski

Home: San Diego, California
Occupation: Lead Notary, Qualcomm, Inc.
Years She Has Been a Notary: 15

Just about the last place you’d expect to find a Notary is at the corporate headquarters of a global mobile technology company. But if you look a little deeper at Qualcomm — the San Diego-based mobile innovations firm — you’ll find scores of Notaries across several states handling a wide variety of corporate and employee notarizations. At the core of this team is Lorraine Gabryelski, the company’s lead Notary.

She recruits, trains and mentors Notaries for the company’s offices in California, Texas and North Carolina; and she is the “go to” person for all Qualcomm Notaries who need mentorship, advice on handling employees or guidance on how to handle tricky notarizations.

To boot, Gabryelski’s own workload is fierce. In 2016 she personally performed more than 1,000 corporate notarizations, many of which required multiple signatures and other special handling.

“Most notarizations we handle are for international documents, passport renewals, relocation paperwork and other immigration-related documents used to maintain a person’s ability to work in the U.S.,” Gabryelski said. “We also handle a lot of patent-related notarizations for processor technology and chipsets. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s very rewarding to perform a vital function that helps keep our company moving.”

A big part of Gabryelski’s job is ensuring that Qualcomm’s Notaries are properly commissioned, trained, insured and maintain an NNA membership. She runs quarterly meetings with the Notary team across states, and ensures that the company’s Notary practices and policies are compliant with state and federal regulations.

In her other activities, she participates in fundraising for the American Cancer Society, is a regular volunteer at American Red Cross blood drives, and is getting involved with the Wounded Warrior Project with hopes of being able to provide notarizations for vets at no cost. She also volunteered to be a docent for the Qualcomm museum.

Tracee Jordan

Tracee Jordan

Home: Houston, Texas
Occupation: Founder, 24 Hour Notary Houston
Years She Has Been a Notary: 9

A fiery freeway crash. A hero 5-year-old boy who rescued his 2-year-old brother from the burning wreckage. A deceased stepfather, a devastated mother and a frantic grandmother who desperately needed to gain temporary custody of the boys.

This harrowing tale of tragedy and survival is not Tracee Jordan’s story. But the Houston, Texas, mobile Notary went above-and-beyond for the family, becoming their “angel” as they continue their slow, but steady recovery.

“When this family came to me for a notarization, I knew I was going to do everything I could to help. They had been through so much it absolutely broke my heart,” said, Jordan, founder of 24 Hour Notary Houston. “The family was moving cross-country from Michigan to Galveston, Texas, when the moving truck, driven by the boys’ stepfather, crashed on a Houston-area freeway. 5-year-old Isiah Church, who was thrown from the truck when it rolled over, pulled his severely burned 2-year-old brother, Jeremiah, to safety. The stepfather perished in the wreck.

The boys’ grandmother, Sandi Watkins, immediately traveled from Michigan to Houston to get temporary custody of the boys. She needed a Notary to file the paperwork, and found Jordan. “We received the most amazing support from Tracee,” Watkins told ABC-7 in Houston. “She was a total stranger, but now we’re friends for life.”

Jordan started a GoFundMe account and began community fundraising drives at businesses and churches to help the family recover. Jordan has a history of doing things for people in need. She makes herself available 24 hours so people can find a Notary when they need one. She closes her business once a year to host a “Will-A-Thon” where she performs no-cost notarizations for vets, seniors and low income people. And she routinely visits local hospitals to perform no-cost notarizations for patients, employees and social workers.




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1 Comment

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Ralph L. Howell

07 Nov 2018

Congratulations to all of you as Public Notaries. I have been a Public Notary for 35 years and I still enjoy the work.

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