In the legal profession for over 50 years and a Notary for nearly as long, Shirley Burgess Vanderbeck is known in her legal community as the lucky charm for attorneys. She has worked for five different attorneys during her career, all of whom were later appointed to the bench. Perhaps her own passion for education and self-improvement inspired her former employers to rise above attorney status and become judges.
Shirley currently holds numerous credentials, including Certified Litigation Secretary Specialist (CLSS); Certified Legal Assistant (CLA); Certified Professional Legal Secretary (PLS); Certified Paralegal (PP); Certified Notary Public (NP); Certified Notary Signing Agent (CNSA); Certified California Mediator (CMM); and Registered Parliamentarian (RP). She also has a lifetime teaching credential from UCLA. In the late 1980s, while working three separate jobs, she enrolled at Mt. San Antonio College at age 50 and received her Associate degree in legal studies, graduating magna cum laude. All of this education is not just for her personal benefit. She has shared her knowledge with other legal professionals for decades. The list of Shirley's academic and personal accomplishments is beyond belief. She was selected by an independent panel of judges in 2004 as the National Association of Legal Professionals-Award of Excellence recipient.
Vanderbeck's dedication to helping her community extends beyond her profession. She contributes a considerable amount of her free time volunteering for an array of lineage organizations (notarizing applications for membership free of charge), including the Los Angeles Food Bank; Ronald McDonald House, House of Ruth for Battered Women & Victims of Domestic Violence, USO Ontario Airport, providing toiletries for men and women being deployed for military service.
At the law office where Shirley works, her attorney, Sandra Baldonado describes her as “indispensable” because she goes out of her way to accommodate the needs of her employer and all of the attorney's clients.
In Shirley's spare time, she pursues her interest in genealogy. Her own roots can be traced back to the first settlers of Jamestown, Virginia, as well as ancestors who came to America on the “Mayflower.” Through her mother's lineage, Shirley is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and can trace her Native American ancestry to Chief Pushmataha, who served as chief of the Nation from 1800 to his death in 1824. He fought in the war against the Creeks and the British in the War of 1812. He negotiated the “Treaty of Mount Dexter” with the United States on November 16, 1805, and met Thomas Jefferson during his term as President. He was elevated to a Brigadier General status and is the only Native American buried in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. The list of accomplishments in Shirley's family is apparently embedded in her genes. Her sixth great grandfather was George Ross, lawyer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The National Notary Association is proud to announce that Shirley has been selected as a National Notary of the Year Honoree.
If all of the above and more is not enough, Shirley was also a competitive roller skater in the 1950s and won numerous medals and trophies for her dance skating ability.
Pictured above: Shirley Vanderbeck with Thomas Heymann, President and Milt Valera, Founding Editor & Publisher of the NNA Magazine taken on June 7, 2016 at NNA's Annual Convention in Anaheim, California. I was one of four national finalists for National Notary of the Year.