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2023 Notary of the Year: Christina Hough

Christina Hough

In 2016 Christina Hough arranged to meet an elderly signer at a Starbucks in the San Diego County, California, city of Escondido to provide the client with free Notary services. The signer was on a tight budget and desperately needed to have time-sensitive estate documents notarized in the presence of a witness. Everything was going as planned until the unthinkable happened: The signer’s witness was a no-show.

“My client was devastated,” said Hough, a California Notary for 17 years who is dedicated to helping those in need. “It was imperative that the notarization happened on that day. So to solve the problem, I asked a few random customers if they would be willing to serve as a witness, and one agreed. We got it done!”

This is just one of Hough’s countless stories demonstrating her commitment to helping the underprivileged in times of need, particularly the terminally ill, elderly, low-income, or those who live in remote areas like Indian reservations where most Notaries won’t travel. The National Notary Association is honored to name Christina Hough as its 2023 Notary of the Year for her commitment to notarial excellence, compassion, and unbound benevolence.

“I can’t even describe how I feel. I’m so honored and surprised because so many Notaries are doing amazing things,” said Hough, of Lakeside, California. “To have been chosen as the Notary of the Year is just beyond amazing. Thank you, NNA.”

The honor is fitting for Hough, who has leveraged her notarial and legal expertise throughout her career for compassionate purposes in her community.

“I have realized that one of my essential purposes in life is to help people in need or with no easy access to resources, and it’s so rewarding,” Hough said in a recent interview, adding that she balances her pro bono work with general Notary work. “It’s so important to make yourself available to help people when you can, especially in our current social climate when kindness isn’t often the topic of headline news.“

A journey rooted in compassion

The professional path that defined her career began in 2006 when her boss at a pre-litigation legal firm asked her to become a Notary to provide expanded service to their clients. She glided through the NNA’s Notary training course, passed the state exam, and immediately began performing notarizations for clients. She quickly realized how rewarding being a Notary was and decided to start providing mobile Notary services with a focus on helping the needy.

During this time, Hough recalled another experience on the Mesa Grande Tribal Reservation in Santa Ysabel, California, that further cemented her passion for giving. A woman had purchased a car for a family member and needed someone to come to the reservation to notarize the title transfer documents. The rub? The woman could not find a Notary willing to travel a long distance across miles of pitted and rocky terrain.

Until she found Hough.

“She was so excited that I was willing to come out, and was even more excited about being able to help her family member,” Hough said, recalling the signing. “If I didn’t come out, they would not have been able to receive the car, which they really needed for basic life needs. They live miles away from the grocery store and other basic services.”

As her career and life developed, Hough decided in 2015 to begin volunteering with the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program’s AIDS/HIV Clinic, where she elevated her services to include terminally ill patients with end-of-life needs like estate documents and advance directives. When called to service, she travels to health clinics, nursing homes, private residences and other locations to serve her clients, all of which are performed at no charge.

Her continuing path of personal growth

While Hough has a long list of accomplishments to be proud of, she’s not done yet. She is studying to become an attorney at the University of San Diego School of Law because the only thing better than being a Notary providing pro-bono services to the needy is being a Notary who is also authorized to practice law.

She has even applied to the school’s Study Abroad program that would send her to Spain this summer, where she would immerse herself in learning and experiencing the Spanish culture and language, which would help her better serve her Spanish-speaking clients. She also looks forward to learning more about the divergent legal aspects surrounding common and civil law notarial practices — a serious issue that often confronts Notaries and confuses immigrant signers in border regions.

As you might assume, continuing Notary education is of monumental importance to Hough, which is why she consistently pursues continuing legal education (CLE) courses that relate to Notary law, is a longtime NNA member, a reader of The National Notary Bulletin, and a staunch advocate of the NNA’s Notary Hotline.

“The NNA Hotline has saved me so many times, and it’s always there when I need it,” Hough said. “It’s extremely important to keep on top of legal and procedural changes because if you don’t, you could find yourself in hot water and can’t effectively help the people in need of your services.”

Editor’s Note: Christina Hough is an inspiration to the entire Notary community. She will be recognized as the 2023 Notary of the Year at the NNA’s annual Conference, themed ‘Shine,” in Scottsdale, Arizona, June 4-6. It’s an event you won’t want to miss. Spots are limited, so register soon if you’re interested.

Phillip Browne is Vice President of Communications for the National Notary Association.


Add your comment

Agatha C W Boyd

19 Apr 2023

Christina: I am very proud of you, your accomplishments, and your unselfish and helpful ways! I can imagine how greatful your clients must feel, after helping them out! I hope you enjoy your working trip to Spain and the NNA Conference in AZ; and, that you come back home safely! Congratulations! And, I have a question, is Ron going to Spain and AZ with you; considering grandmotherly care duties? Talk with you soon! God bless you! Love you, Mom (Agatha C W Boyd) 4/19/2023

Michelle L Riley

22 Apr 2023

Congratulations, Christina! I enjoyed reading about the work you've been doing in California. You're an inspiration! I look forward to meeting you in Arizona in June.

Samantha Smith

23 Apr 2023

Congratulations Christina! Your story of service and selflessness is an example for us all! I look forward to meeting you at this year's conference!!!!

Wanda Moore

25 Apr 2023

Congratulations. You are indeed an inspiration. Look forward to meeting you at the Conference.

Stephanie L Best

28 Apr 2023

Cristina's story is such an inspiration, especially for me. I make my documents yesterday and cannot wait to be an official notary! Congratulations!

Dianna L. Hanson

29 Apr 2023

Congratulations for being a great example of giving beyond just required customer service by being respectful, showing compassion with dignity and integrity!

Christina Arnold

01 May 2023

Congratulations! You are very deserving of this honor. I wish you much success and well wishes in the future!

01 May 2023

Congratulations Christina. I am so proud to be a part of the NNA community. I've been a notary myself for quite some time and looking forward to expanding my services outside of my current job. Kudos' to you for your hard work and service to others.

Pattie Stewart

01 May 2023

Congratulations! You are truly an inspiration to our Notary community. Enjoy your trip to Spain!!

Ebony Locke

01 May 2023

Congratulations 🎊🎉🎈

Catherine May Frazier

01 May 2023

Congrats from a retired and National Notary honoree from 2005. I never excepted money from my 28 years of notary services. Started out with my employer paying for all of my costs of being a notary and it was my form of payment back to the public by offering my services to them when called upon. The only thing I paid for was insurance and membership to the NNA organization. A way to protect them again on making sure that I was doing everything right. You desire this honor and good luck with your future endeavors.

Elizabeth Morgan

01 May 2023

Congratulations! Continued success on your journey.

Kimberly Rogers

01 May 2023

Congratulations Christina! Best of luck in the future.😎

09 May 2023

So inspirational! Congratulations! Well deserved!


09 May 2023

Congratulations! You are an inspiration - travel safely and enjoy your trip abroad.

Theresa Gloria Palma

24 May 2023

Wow! Fascinating acts of service! Congratulations to Christina, she definitely deserves the recognition for her great work!

Kathy Fletcher

25 May 2023

Congratulations! It is such a great honor to receive this award. You will definitely be amazed at the experience you will endeavor. I am the 2013 National Notary of The Year.

Deidre M Moore

05 Jun 2023

What an amazing & motivational story! Your encounters prove that there is an important need for the services we provide as notaries and that those services can be rewarding. I'm encouraged! :-)

07 Jun 2023

It was a pleasure to meet you! You are a great inspiration, Congrats!

22 Jun 2023

Congratulations! 🎉🎊 This is such a a great inspirational story for all of us.

23 Jul 2023

Congrtulations!!! from Phoenix Arizona.

14 Aug 2023

Congratulations! 🎉🎊🍾🎈

19 Aug 2023

Bravo! This is so heartwarming. Thank you for being so kind and compassionate. You inspire me to do more.

11 Sep 2023

Congratulations! This such a great story.

15 Oct 2023

I am just beginning the process of becoming a notary and a Notary Signing Agent. Your journey is an inspiration to me and everyone that reads your story. Congratulations!

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