Your Certified Notary Instructor
Gerrie Pierre-Fleurimond, CNSA
"National Notary of the Year 2003"
Education, Motivation Are Keys to Her Success
By: Armando Aguirre
(National Notary Magazine)
Gerrie Pierre-Fleurimond's life is a whirlwind of activity. In it she combines an ambitious "can do" attitude with kindness and compassion.
A native of Haiti, and now a resident of New Jersey, she teaches Notary Signing Agent classes and a Notary Public law program she developed for her home state as well as neighboring New York. She works late into the night either maintaining her own Notary Signing Agent Agency and NotaryTrainer.com training school or helping an anxious Notary navigate the sometimes complicated waters of the profession.
For her compassionate and positive work ethic and her ability to show others how they can succeed as highly competent Notaries, Gerrie Pierre-Fleurimond has been named the National Notary Association's Notary of the Year for 2003.
Pierre-Fleurimond not only serves as a motivator and a nurturer for the Notary Signing Agent profession, she also provides technical assistance with Notary Web site creation.
"I'm a teacher at heart and I love interacting with people,” Pierre-
Fleurimond said. "Sharing what I've learned is a great motivation for me. It's helped me succeed."
A Notary for 12 years and a successful Notary Signing Agent for six years,
Pierre-Fleurimond originally settled in New York, but chose to relocate to the Sunshine State to attend Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. The move was not permanent, however.
"I liked the weather and I liked the people, so I decided to stay. But I also found the job market in Florida to be very unstable," she said. "It seemed that about every two years I would have to look for another job because of downsizing or corporate buyouts."
Fortunately for Pierre-Fleurimond, her reputation as a skilled Human Resources specialist was well known and she was never out of work for long. In 1999, a corporate headhunter looking for someone with her expertise in International Human Resources facilitated her return to the Northeast. So began her tenure as Manager of Global Assignment Services for International Flavors and Fragrances Inc., a corporation with employees in more than 90 countries.
As an international Human Resources Specialist at Sensormatic Electronics in Florida and later a Manager of International Human Resources in New Jersey & New York. Ms. Pierre-Fleurimond applied for visas and international work permits for employees from more than sixty (60) countries.
"After a lot of studying, I became a specialist in apostilles and authentication of notarized documents sent abroad," she said. There was no information available so I had to gather it myself.
Upon moving to New Jersey after 12 years in Florida, Pierre-Fleurimond continued to supplement her income as a Mortgage Notary Signing Agent, and after two (2) years decided to start her own Notary business. Because of lay-offs, mergers, and acquisitions; she had changed jobs so often as an employee that she felt no fear stepping out on her own. She also found that although working for herself meant many more hours, those hours were much more rewarding.
With years of corporate management experience under her belt, Pierre-Fleurimond educated and inspired many other Notaries, emphasizing to them not only the professional demands of the Notary office but also its personal rewards - and particularly the rewards of the new Notary Signing Agent career field.
She saw the need for Notary education in the Tri-State area and created NotaryTrainer.com, an informative Web site to help New Jersey and New York Notaries obtain their Notary commissions and learn their job functions as a Notary. Pierre-Fleurimond said she was inspired and encouraged to become an NNA Notary Ambassador® by Ambassadors Bobbie Scherrer of California, Belinda Fargher of Montana and Bobbie Shorthouse of Connecticut at the NNA's annual Conference in Montreal in 2001. The Conference offered a chance to network with other Notaries and also help the NNA effect change in New Jersey.
"I always create a niche for myself in whatever I attempt. While in Florida, I learned to be on the lookout for the next opportunity because the job market was so unstable," Pierre-Fleurimond said. "I've succeeded out of necessity."
Her charisma, energy and leadership serve her well as owner of Notary Public Seminars and Mobile Notary Services, for which she subcontracts more than 300 Notaries in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.
Despite her flourishing business, she's encountered many challenging situations along the way, many of them caused by Notaries who didn’t follow proper procedure.
"I can't stress enough the importance of new and longtime Notaries keeping up with the changes in the profession," Pierre-Fleurimond said. "Notaries should arm themselves with as much education as possible to ensure that they minimize their chances of getting sued and their exposure to fraud."
Pierre-Fleurimond is well aware of her role as a business owner and leader and wants to serve as a model for other Notaries. Her operating principle is to "take no shortcuts, ever" and she refuses to compromise her integrity as a Notary.
She keeps a detailed journal of her official acts, requiring thumbprints of deed signers and using both inking and embossing seals, even though New Jersey does not require Notaries to do so.
Pierre-Fleurimond's expertise is also sought out by county officials. She is scheduled to make a presentation on proper notarization to the employees of New Jersey's Middlesex County Recorder's Office, said Senior Data Control Clerk Tracy Ventimiglia.
"We've bombarded Gerrie with questions about proper notarization. We wanted her to be available for a session on the do's and don’ts of notarization," Ventimiglia said. "She's very professional and very patient when answering our questions. We figured the best way to answer our questions is with this presentation."
Pierre-Fleurimond has been driven by her need to succeed and goes out of her way to see that others do the same, said her friend and student Tanya Mathieu, who has attended several signing appointments with her.
"She impressed on me the importance of being professional and being cordial," Mathieu said. "She is thorough in all her instructions and techniques. Gerrie does not give her name or business to any work or project which she knows does not have her full effort."
Pierre-Fleurimond has traveled all over the country teaching classes and has become a Notary law expert in not only New Jersey and New York but other states as well.
She is a "human hotline" and support service for fledgling Notaries around the nation, building their confidence to go into business for themselves as Mortgage Notary Signing Agent.
"She's honest and patient. Whenever I call her, she's always willing to answer my questions," said Florida Notary Marie Gina Brundage. "Her confidence in me helped me become a Notary."
As an NNA Notary Ambassador®, Pierre-Fleurimond has also written letters to her local lawmakers seeking legislation to require journals, stamps and seals in New Jersey.
Pierre-Fleurimond's reputation as an authority on Notary Signing Agent procedure and Notary practices is well known in her area, and she enjoys the freedom of her current career.
"The best things about being a Notary Signing Agent are the flexible hours, the earning potential and the people that you meet," she said.
Pierre-Fleurimond speaks five (5) languages and is able to perform loan signings in four without any problems: French, Haitian Creole, Spanish and English.
"She has this ability to put a person in a stressful situation at ease with her professionalism and friendliness," said Rich Porter, her former supervisor at New York's IFF. "She did a magnificent job in handling immigration and relocation issues for us. She was given tasks in which many things could go wrong and she made sure they went right."
Occasionally, a signer will not understand her role in the signing process, Pierre-Fleurimond said.
"I explain up front what I can and can't do. But inevitably, they’ll ask questions and I always refer them back to the lender," she said. "You have to be very careful about the unauthorized practice of law (UPL) violations."
Mortgage Notary Signings can be an intimidating experience for novice Notary Signing Agents, but Pierre-Fleurimond's seminars shows them how they can succeed, said Rosheda Laure Honorat of Valley Stream, New York.
"Ms. Fleurimond took me under her wing and has nurtured my growth in becoming aware of all that's needed to be well organized and focused," Honarat said. "I see her as a role model for all who not only aspire to be New York Notaries Public but for those who are driven by success."
A Matter of Selection
Choosing a National Notary of the Year for 2003 and four Special Honorees from the many high-caliber nominees was not an easy task.
Nonetheless, the National Notary Association selection panel persisted, focusing on nominees whose penchant for serving their communities distinguished their private and professional lives. The panel was particularly attentive to excellence in the following areas:
• Making notarial services available to the less fortunate
• Conforming to high ethical standards
• Unusual dedication and conscientiousness in performing notarial acts
• Working for legislative reform
The search begins today for a distinguished Notary whose special brand of notarial service can be an inspiring example for others.