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Candidates' Statements for ATA's Election

The election this year is to fill three directors’ positions (each a three-year term). The ballots will be mailed in late September.

  1. Kirk Anderson
  2. Kathy Hall Foster
  3. Alexandra Russell-Bitting
  4. Madeleine Velguth
  5. Laura E. Wolfson
  6. Carl Youngblood
  7. Timothy T. Yuan

Kirk Anderson
Paellero@aol.com

I am truly honored to be nominated to serve a second term on ATA’s Board of Directors. My last three years of service to the association have been a vastly enriching–not to mention deeply humbling–professional experience, and have undoubtedly represented the most rewarding volunteer experience of my life. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to serve alongside many of the stars of our craft. I’d like to thank the membership for giving me this opportunity, and to offer some reasons why you should give it to me again.

I was first elected to the ATA Board amid the international accreditation controversy, as one of three freelance translators elected that year, and as its youngest member. Since then, the Board’s makeup has changed considerably and, thanks to you, the members, freelance translators and interpreters now have a significant voice in association affairs.

It’s undeniable that our industry is undergoing radical change, and it’s more important than ever that ATA do everything possible to give our translator and interpreter members the training and resources they need to be the best in the world.

During my past three years on the Board, I spent much of my time chairing the Chapters Committee, meeting with local groups nationwide to discuss their relationships with ATA, support their growth and establishment, provide greater resources for local events, but most of all, to listen. In my three years as Chapters chair, I met hundreds of translators from all over the country, and their comments, concerns, and criticisms have informed my participation on the Board.

Most importantly, I continue to work as a freelance translator and interpreter, in the trenches, making my living by the word. Over the years, I’ve worked in a broader-than-average range of capacities in our industry, from project manager to in-house translator, from telephone interpreter to the deposition circuit, from desktop publisher to published literary translator, and have become ATA-accredited in three language pairs. I also teach translation at Florida International University. Through personal experience in a wide range of industry positions, I believe I can fairly represent a broad cross-section of our members, especially freelance translators and interpreters.

I’m also a firm believer in giving back to our profession. In addition to my service on the Board and as Chapters Committee chair, I’ve also served twice on the Nominating Committee, contributed to several association and industry initiatives, made presentations at annual conferences, and published numerous articles in the ATA Chronicle, various association, division, and chapter publications, and other industry and general-interest periodicals.

If re-elected, I pledge to continue to listen to members’ concerns and criticism, to promote our professions through solid, proactive public relations efforts, to support and promote continuing education and professional development for translators and interpreters, to push for further improvements and transparency in accreditation and association governance, and to provide ATA members with an increasing quantity, and quality, of tangible membership benefits.

I hope you give me the chance to serve you for another three years.


Kathy Hall Foster
kfoster@sh3.com

I am honored to have been selected by this year’s Nominating Committee as a candidate for a position on the ATA Board of Directors. Throughout my 20 years as an ATA member, I have seen many changes in our profession, and ATA has always been there to provide translators and interpreters with a forum to discuss these changes, a structure within which to exchange ideas, and a means to seek guidance and training in order to become better able to prosper in the ever-evolving world of translation and interpretation.

During the past 20 years, I have had the opportunity to be active in ATA at the chapter level, serving my local chapter, the Mid-America Chapter of ATA, as president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, director, and nominating committee chair, as well as editing the chapter newsletter and assisting in preparations for our annual symposium. With this background at the chapter level, along with 25 years of working as a simultaneous interpreter and technical translator, I feel I have a solid foundation of experience which I can bring to the national organization.

Having spent the first half of my career as a simultaneous interpreter, and being currently employed as an in-house translator/editor for a translation agency where I interact with agency personnel, project managers, and freelance translators on a daily basis, I believe I can bring a complementary perspective to the ATA Board; one that is based on understanding the role of each link in the translation/interpretation process and how each is vital to the success of the whole.

In running for national office, I do so not because I have any personal agenda to fulfill, but rather out of a desire to continue to contribute to ATA in any way that I can, and to give back to the organization that has helped me throughout my career.

Alexandra Russell-Bitting
alexandrarb@iadb.org

A translator working from Spanish, French, and Portuguese into English, I have over 20 years of experience, including several as a freelancer. For the past 14 years, I have been a staff translator-reviser at an international organization in Washington, DC. I’ve been actively involved with ATA since 1996, when I attended my first conference. I was so inspired by the chance to be around hundreds of people who actually knew and appreciated what I do for a living that I’ve been coming back ever since.

The ATA has given me a lot: a sense of pride in the profession; opportunities for professional development I could not have found elsewhere, and the chance to share my knowledge and experience with others; business opportunities to recruit prospective freelance translators and summer interns for my organization; a network of like-minded professionals with whom to exchange press clippings about language and translation; and many lasting friendships.

My key interests in professional development and communication have led me to write articles for the ATA Chronicle, deliver papers at the conference, and to join ATA’s Public Relations Committee. I believe these are the strengths that I could use on the ATA Board to get useful information to the membership, enhance the image of the profession, promote learning opportunities, and provide practical support to members.

I would like to work with the Public Relations Committee on several outreach projects we’ve talked about: brochures for client education in different languages, talking points on key issues for the press, and suggested topics for member presentations to various audiences (from grade school to university students).

In terms of professional development, I would like to help work with the divisions, local chapters, and organizers of specialized conferences. It is crucial that we provide these opportunities to the membership if we want to set standards of excellence for translation, which will help us enhance the image of our profession.

Madeleine Velguth
velguth@uwm.edu

It is an honor to be nominated to run for a full term on the ATA Board of Directors. Working with my colleagues during my one-year appointment, I’ve been pleased to contribute and give back to the organization that has given me so much.

These are exciting times for ATA. Over 8,000 members strong, we are moving to further professionalize our organization so that it can better serve its members and to improve the public perception of translation and interpreting. I strongly support last year’s Board decision to implement the recommendations of the Hamm Report. Change is always unsettling. But improvement can’t take place without it, and the recommended changes to the accreditation program will make us better at what we do, enhance our professional image, and strengthen our credential. Decoupling the accreditation exam from membership is crucial to its acceptance as a standard. Eligibility requirements for the exam, ensuring a better fit between the exam itself and the people taking it, will improve the way it is perceived by the public. Implementing continuing education as a requisite for retaining accreditation will not only make visible the fact that we as a profession value the importance of remaining current with new developments in our many fields of expertise, but will also serve the very practical and desirable purpose of making us better translators and interpreters. The successful mentoring program is a prime example of our members’ commitment to excellence, as are the well attended topic-specific seminars like the ones on medical translation and interpreting and the business of translating and interpreting that were held this year in Chicago and Boston. As an educator of translators, I also support broadening student membership eligibility to give more young people interested in languages a chance to rub shoulders with experienced and successful translators and interpreters, and to learn about career possibilities and about the organization that will support them as professionals.

Accredited in French®English translation, I’ve been translating for 12 years and an ATA member since 1996. I direct the graduate certificate program in nonliterary translation at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where I also teach French and French translation. When I have the time, I translate literature, and was awarded the French-American Foundation Translation Prize in 1998. I’ve been active in professional development, helping to organize conferences and giving translation workshops, as well as in increasing the public’s awareness of the nature and importance of our profession through talks in high schools and at a state conference of foreign language teachers. This summer, as part of a Board initiative to reach out to the foreign language community, I gave a presentation on our profession and ATA at the annual convention of the American Association of Teachers of French in Boston.

I ask for your vote so that I can continue to work with my colleagues on the Board to help make our great professional organization even better.


Laura E. Wolfson
lauraesther@cs.com

The year turns, bringing me closer to my 10th anniversary this November as a full-time, freelance language services provider (Russian®English), both interpreter and translator. As the date approaches, I think more and more about the path I have traveled during this decade. At times, it seems to me that I have worked for every conceivable type of client in every conceivable sector (for federal agencies, the courts, some of the major international organizations, law firms, oil companies, dance troupes, publishing houses), and in every conceivable field (nuclear disarmament, diplomacy, education, sports, human rights, agriculture, the media, banking). I have translated books on subjects ranging from Stalinism to slang, for mainstream and academic publishing houses. I have provided consultation on lexicography, cross-cultural communication, and testing and evaluation of court interpreters. I have seen close-up how our professions are practiced in Western and Eastern Europe and in Canada. I have been a mentor to newcomers and written on the profession for a broad public.

Through it all, the ATA has been crucial to my career, providing me with close friends and colleagues and priceless and pleasurable opportunities for professional exchange. I have written numerous articles for the ATA Chronicle, including the popular “Miss Interpreter Speaks” series. I have been a frequent presenter at ATA conferences. For five years, I was an editor of Slavfile, the newsletter of ATA’s Slavic Languages Division, where I was one of the first to push to broaden the scope of the division to serve practitioners in Slavic languages other than Russian, and where I founded a distinguished speaker series.

In running for the ATA Board of Directors, my main concern is for the fate of freelancers. In my years on the market, I have seen conditions worsen. Rates have stagnated and, in some cases, dropped. This is due both to the domination of the market by a few large-volume clients and to the growth of a gray market in language services provided by bilinguals with few credentials and little experience. It is now not uncommon for interpreters to be asked to pay their own way to jobs in other cities and to work alone without a partner, even with large groups. More and more often, interpreters are brought into this country to work at below-market rates or for travel expenses only.  

I know of no sure way to put a halt to these practices, but I believe that progress can be made if they are discussed audibly and often. We must place greater emphasis on training, credentials, and high professional standards. We must urge members of the profession to demand decent pay and working conditions and to refuse to work under unsatisfactory arrangements. The more we respect ourselves and the more clients and the public respect us, the better we will be treated. In me, freelancers, and particularly freelance interpreters, traditionally underrepresented in our organization, will find an advocate on the Board.


Carl Youngblood
carl@youngbloods.org

I feel honored to have been nominated by my colleagues to run for the ATA Board of Directors.  In serving on the Board, my primary objective is to represent the interests of individual, independent and freelance translators and interpreters, who comprise the great majority (approximately 70%) of the Association's members.  The ATA was organized of, by and for translators and interpreters, and ought to preserve its identity as such.  I promise to represent honestly and straightforwardly the interests of qualified translators and interpreters and to make sure that our concerns are addressed by the Board.

I pledge to work to restore our direct mail-in balloting for all voting issues. Mail-in ballots are a perfectly legal right enjoyed and exercised by other NY nonprofit associations, but taken away from ATA members 11 years ago by irregular methods. I shall work to restore the ATA's traditional democratic meritocracy, and expand it to include electronic balloting.

I believe that accreditation continues to be one of the strongest benefits of ATA membership. I will work to make sure that the value of our membership is not diluted by interests alien to our own. Proposals by corporate operators and nontranslators unfamiliar with our profession have obscured the basic function of accreditation, which is to preserve our identity as an American Translators Association and reaffirm our basic committment to quality. I would esteem it a compliment if you would favor me with your vote and your personal influence during the election.

Candidate background: Carl Youngblood has been actively involved in Portuguese translation for the last eight years, both as a freelancer and in academia. He is an active member of the American Translators Association and is ATA-accredited for Portuguese into English translation. While pursuing a B.A. in Portuguese at Brigham Young University, he received an Undergraduate Research Award from the University's Office of Research and Creative Activities for his assistance in translating an eighteenth-century Portuguese treatise on conceptism, entitled A Nova Arte de Conceitos, by Francisco Leytam Ferreyra. During this time he also studied computer science at BYU, and has spent the last six years lending his software development expertise to a variety of corporate and personal ventures. Carl is currently the owner and CEO of Youngblood Consulting Services, LLC, a Utah-based company that offers software consulting and translation services. In addition to his business ventures, Carl is pursuing an M.A. in Portuguese Literature and teaching Portuguese classes at Brigham Young University. He is married to the former Kami Allred of Provo, UT, and has a son, James.


Timothy T. Yuan
yuan@pipeline.com 

I have been a translator and interpreter since 1990 and an ATA member since 1991. I joined ATA’s Portuguese Language Division immediately after joining the association, and became its administrator in 1997. When my term ended in 1999, I ran for, and was elected to, a director’s position on the ATA Board. I have attended all the conferences, except for Austin, made presentations, and contributed to the ATA Chronicle and the PLData newsletter. Outside of ATA, I have attended and made presentations at several conferences abroad, and have lectured in the New York University Translation Certificate program.

During my tenure as an ATA director, I chaired the Divisions Committee for two years. This committee serves as a forum for divisions to coordinate policies and exchange ideas. In addition to establishing ATA’s Chinese Language Division, the committee’s greatest recent accomplishments, with the crucial support of Headquarters staff, include standardizing the division election calendar and procedures, and successfully eliminating the Headquarters division overhead charge (thus increasing division budgets by over 25%).

I have always been a strong supporter of the accreditation program. I am ATA-accredited (Portuguese«English). As the only such credential in the U.S., ATA accreditation has helped me tremendously in my career. Whenever I fill out a translation company registration form, I proudly check the “ATA-accredited” box. Rarely do these forms not ask for ATA accreditation information, which indicates the credential’s acceptance in the market.

I applaud the ongoing effort to turn ATA accreditation into an even stronger credential and a standard of excellence in the industry. ATA members, and indeed the entire industry, will only benefit from these improvements. The Accreditation Committee and ATA Board have been responding to suggestions from the membership, including the use of computers, increasing exam security, fine-tuning grading criteria and the selection of exam passages, as well as looking into eligibility and continuing education requirements for maintaining accreditation. Some members disagree with opening the program up to nonmembers. I am persuaded that disassociating the credential from membership requirements, after improvements to the program have been introduced, will increase its credibility in the market and benefit us all.

The Board is forward-looking, and I am proud to have been a part of it for the past three years. It is representative of all segments of the association, and has worked hard and collegially to bring many new benefits to all of us. Ever-improving membership numbers and attrition rates, and finances, are an indication of our success.

If elected, I intend to focus on promoting improvements to the ATA website. I have recently been appointed to chair an ad-hoc committee that will make recommendations to the Board with regard to the Internet. An effective web presence will depend on the involvement of all ATA members, including our exciting new Public Relations initiatives, so that the site contents are complete, up-to-date, and easy to navigate. In addition, I will continue to serve as liaison between the Board and our divisions.