ATA 2014 Election: Candidate Statements

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ATA 2014 Election: Candidate Statements

ATA will hold its regularly scheduled election at the upcoming 2014 ATA Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois, to elect three directors for three-year terms.

Director (three-year term)
Anne Connor

It is a great honor to be nominated to run for a position on ATA’s Board of Directors.

I started out as an in-house interpreter and translator in the export and medical fields after graduating from Temple University in 1982. After launching my freelance translation career in 1991, I immediately joined both ATA and the Delaware Valley
Translators Association (DVTA). Elected to DVTA’s board of directors in 1994, I served as the liaison to the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and helped plan DVTA’s workshops and social events. Along with other board members, I lobbied
to get enough signatures from our membership to have DVTA--the first chapter chartered by ATA in 1961--regain the chapter status that it somehow lost over the years. (This finally occurred in 2004.)

In 2005, I spearheaded DVTA’s efforts to have a professional website created, complete with an online membership directory and a portal for receiving event payments and membership dues. Revamped in 2011, the website now includes a corporate members’ page, a blog, and Facebook and Twitter links. I continue to serve DVTA on its Membership, Programming, and Website Committees.

From early 2006 until the end of 2011, I served as DVTA’s president. During my presidential tenure, our recognition and membership in the Philadelphia region increased by 19%, and we incorporated as a 501(c)(6) Business League. As the current DVTA secretary, I field phone and e-mail inquiries both from potential clients for our members and those looking to join our association.

In 2009, I worked with board members from the New York Circle of Translators and the National Capital Area Translators Association to organize the third East Coast Regional Conference. The conference, which was held at LaSalle University in Philadelphia from June 12-14, was a great success, drawing participants from the entire Northeast region and beyond.

In addition to my DVTA activities, I belong to ATA’s Italian, Medical, and Spanish Divisions. I am a member of the Medical Division’s Leadership Council and have served on the Nominating Committee of the Spanish Division.

Although I still work as a sole proprietor under the name of Anbrec Translations with my language services provider clients, I incorporated as Virgo Maria Translations, LLC in 2013 for my direct client translation work.

I have always enjoyed helping students choose the appropriate classes for a career as a professional linguist, and have done several school outreach presentations over the years. If elected to ATA’s Board, I hope to help with school and client outreach, since we are such a large and vibrant group, and would look to leverage support from ATA Headquarters to promote such efforts further. Having served on the board of a local ATA chapter for 20 years, I would bring to ATA’s Board my ability to collaborate on and follow through with ideas and projects, my lifelong passion for the fields of translation and interpreting, my extensive experience in organizing professional development events, and my zeal for advancing the recognition of our profession worldwide.

(three-year term)
Chris Durban

It’s a pleasure and honor to run as a candidate for ATA’s Board of Directors, because I think some of the skills I bring to the table might be usefully combined with those already on tap within our Association.

I’ve spent most of my adult life outside of the U.S., working as a freelance French>English translator in Paris and specializing in corporate and financial communications.

From the start, I’ve been an enthusiastic supporter of professional associations. The reason is simple: in an industry as fragmented as translation, they’re essential. At their best, associations circulate information, promote best practices, raise awareness of what translators and interpreters do, lobby on behalf of our professions, and generally raise the bar. I’ve thus been a member of ATA for many years, am a fellow of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (U.K.), and have served as a regional delegate and director, then president, of the Société française des traducteurs (SFT) in France.

If elected, I would like to focus on three areas:

1) Finance: Translators are literate but not always numerate. Yet without sound finances, our Association’s scope for action will always be limited (in some cases severely limited). I support fully the efforts of ATA Treasurer Ted Wozniak and would like to work with him to strengthen ATA’s finances.

2) Public Relations: “The voice of interpreters and translators” must be heard--by clients seeking reliable solutions, of course, but also in the interest of our members and their livelihoods, to ensure that the role of expert human translators is not sold short by aggressive vendors pitching low-cost, purely tech-driven visions of “translation.”

I’ve helped to promote professional translators and interpreters in the past and have written documents that have shaped the debate, including Translation, Getting it Right and its companion piece Interpreting, Getting it Right, now distributed in 15 languages around the world. I am also a co-author of ATA’s Client Outreach Kit, which empowers ATA members to make their own presentations to local businesses. I’ve provided content and commentary to the national and international media for their coverage of our industry, and have made business users aware of translators’ expertise at sector-specific events. If elected, I would be delighted to work with ATA’s reborn Public Relations Committee on these and other fronts.

3) Raising the Bar: It is only natural that ATA help new translators get off to a sound start. But given the blistering pace of change across all markets, all of us will have to up our game. Talking alone won’t get us there; public hand-wringing even less. I’ve written and presented extensively on concrete ways ahead for individuals and groups. I’ve also organized and co-organized events to hone specialized skills, including Translate in the Catskills (writing) and SFT’s biennial Summer School for Financial Translators, held in conjunction with the Paris and Brussels stock exchanges. There are many more areas where advanced training will not only equip mid-level translators to capture new markets at more attractive rates, but also generate revenue for ATA (see Point 1). I want to help make these happen and make ATA a part of them.

(three-year term)
Melinda Gonzalez-Hibner

Like many an interpreter, I came into the profession by pure chance. Fortunately, I began my career surrounded by highly qualified colleagues who valued training, ethics, and high professional standards--and who led me directly to ATA. From the beginning of my career, ATA validated my understanding of interpreting and translation as serious professional and academic endeavors. Likewise, its efficient leadership and long-term perspective framed my expectations for professional organizations.

My nomination to run for the Board of Directors, then, is an absolute honor. The prospect of serving interpreters and translators on such a large stage is both humbling and energizing, and I am up for the challenge! I offer more than 10 years of leadership experience in professional organizations at the local and national levels, a pragmatic bent, and the ability to collaborate across fields of specialization. As an interpreter, I think that I bring a perspective that our members want, need, and deserve, particularly as we continue to encourage the full and active participation of interpreters in ATA.

My service to the profession began as a founding member of the Colorado Association of Professional Interpreters CAPI) in 2003. I served CAPI as co-chair and, later, as director. From 2004 to 2008, I served on the board of the Society for the Study of Translation and Interpretation, a national organization. Currently, I serve on the board of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators and on the Language Interpreting Subcommittee of ASTM International, which is working on a new Standard Guide for Language Interpretation Services. I also serve ATA as a member of the Interpretation Policy Advisory Committee and the Active Membership Review Committee. As you can imagine, I have organized trainings, written letters, recruited members and allies, made presentations, attended many meetings, and advocated on behalf of the profession from all angles.

In terms of my professional experience, I am a state and federally certified court interpreter, and I am qualified as a seminar level interpreter by the U.S. Department of State. I work in court, conference and community settings, and I train court interpreters across the United States. From 2004 to 2006, I directed the Court Interpreter Program for the Colorado State Courts.

I feel strongly about the role that ATA has played and must continue to play to bolster and promote the work of interpreters and translators. In addition to the practical benefits that ATA delivers so well, we must keep abreast of new challenges and developments in the field. New technologies mean that interpreting and translation services are being delivered in novel and sometimes less than ideal ways. Interpreters and translators working in languages other than Spanish still have precious few opportunities for language-specific training. And the evolution and professionalization of community and medical interpreting have brought new practitioners and issues to the fore.

ATA is uniquely poised to represent translation and interpreting professionals working in all sectors. I believe that my experience, knowledge of the field, and passion for our profession would be a positive contribution to ATA’s Board. I hope you agree.

(three-year term)
Geoff Koby

It is an honor to be a candidate for ATA’s Board of Directors. As a full-time professor of translation studies and a part-time freelancer, as well as the chair of ATA’s Certification Committee, I can contribute a variety of experience.

My first ATA conference was in 1994 in Austin, where I got to know ATA as an organization in which volunteers consistently make a real difference in promoting our profession. Over the past 20 years, I have worked full-time training translators and researching translation pedagogy, assessment, and quality, while working part-time as a freelance legal, business, and financial translator. I have presented at high schools, created an ATA webinar on translation careers, worked in the conference exhibit hall, presented at the conference (including “Orientation to the Certification Exam”), written articles for The ATA Chronicle and ATA’s German Language Division, and helped ATA make a presentation to the U.S. Interagency Language Roundtable. I also organized the first conference of the American Translation and Interpreting Studies Association, a research organization with a conference and a scholarly journal, and served eight years as its president as we developed the organization’s programs.

Back in 1994, my colleagues told me that in the translation profession, ATA was the place to be and that certification was important. After passing the certification exam, I started freelancing, since I did not find it responsible to train translators without knowing the industry. Later, my interest in certification led me to become a German>English grader and learn the tools and techniques of ATA grading. When the position of secretary of the Certification Committee became available, I volunteered. It was exciting to be at the focus of certification testing in the U.S., and my background in translation research and practice provided ideas for continuous improvement. I was surprised and honored when, after only two years on the Certification Committee, I was invited to become its chair. Since then, it has been stimulating to lead ATA’s Certification Program and its hardworking graders. One major project has been working with Alan Melby to implement the keyboarded certification exam, where we are currently working on developing a way to provide limited Internet access for exam candidates. This will make the certification exam more closely reflect the true working conditions of the professional translator in the 21st century!

If elected, I will still focus on translator education and certification. But I see Board membership as representing the interests of all ATA members. We must advocate for the entire range of professional translation and interpreting activity across the spectrum, including high-quality working conditions, the deadlines/splitting documents issue, a rate survey, and public relations. Also, since divisions and chapters are an important “home” for many of us, part of the Board’s role is supporting their activities, including appropriate regional conferences. Finally, with my background in financial translation and membership on other boards, I understand finance, and it is one of the Board’s highest duties to handle the Association’s funds with great care.

I would be honored to serve on ATA’s Board and look forward to contributing my organizational experience, attention to detail, and enthusiasm to its work.

Director(three-year term)
Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo

It is such an incredible honor to have been nominated to run for a position on ATA’s Board of Directors.

Having started my career as a contract interpreter, I spent the majority of my time interpreting in medical settings. Soon after, I worked as a project manager and translator specializing in life sciences. I opened my business in 2010, and have had the pleasure of working with many exceptionally skilled professionals, many of whom I met through ATA. Until I became more involved in the Association, I never realized how much a professional organization would mean to me in my everyday work.

In 2011, I began serving the first of two terms as the administrator of ATA’s Medical Division (MD), which has proven to be one of the most rewarding experiences in my career. Now serving my second term, I am pleased to see the progress we have made in the division. This year, I have worked diligently with MD Assistant Administrator Antonio Guerra and the Interpreters Division on a new medical interpreter information initiative, in which we intend to provide medical interpreters with the opportunity to share in a forum to support one another in the profession. We also see this initiative serving as a guide for new buyers of interpreting services and individuals who are considering a career in medical interpreting. As I mentioned, I began my career as a medical interpreter. Therefore, I understand the concerns of medical interpreters who desire to feel more support and representation in ATA. With the new initiative, the goal is to provide interpreters with a channel through which their voices can be heard, inspired by ATA’s tagline “The Voice of Interpreters and Translators.”

Having joined ATA’s Public Relations Committee in 2012, and recently having stepped up as the committee chair, I have had the opportunity to volunteer on various projects to continue working toward outreach that will inform new translation and interpreting clients about working with professional translators and interpreters. This outreach will benefit the members of our fine organization directly, as well as bring more public awareness to our professions and industry.

I believe that being part of a professional organization means contributing to it, getting to know colleagues, and collaborating with them in order to continue to move our industry and professions forward. I have felt energized and inspired to contribute my time, as evidenced by my track record, and I have much more to offer. If elected to serve on ATA’s Board of Directors, I plan to continue my work in support of giving interpreters a stronger voice. I also intend to work with members and leadership to find opportunities for further networking, continued education, and cooperation that span beyond the week of ATA’s Annual Conference and focus on issues our members face at a regional level. This can be achieved in the form of mini conferences or virtual meetings.

I look forward to the endless number of possibilities we have to work together and to continuing that work with you.

(three-year term)
Robert Sette

I am a full-time freelance translator working in Romance languages, and I hold ATA certification in Spanish, French, and Portuguese into English. I am proud to say that I have been an ATA member since 1988, the year I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and began working in this industry. I welcome this opportunity to contribute to the profession from which I have gained not only my livelihood, but also many interesting, wonderful, and enriching friendships. So, I am honored to accept the nomination to be added to the slate of candidates for ATA’s Board of Directors.

I bring to the table my experience from one previous term on ATA’s Board and service for three years on ATA’s Nominating Committee, as well as experience with community and local nonprofit organizations. If I am elected to the Board, I have five specific areas to which I hope to contribute:

1) Sound Fiscal Management: I support the efforts of recent Boards to exercise good financial management and to secure the financial stability of our Association. By keeping dues and conference registration fees reasonable, we can ensure ATA’s health and ability to serve future generations of translation and interpreting professionals.

2) Client Outreach/Public Relations: As the premier association for translators and interpreters in the U.S., I will propose the creation of an ATA Speakers Bureau patterned on the success of our School Outreach Program. By equipping ATA members across the country with presentations on varied topics that are relevant to decision-makers in the business world, ATA can facilitate client education by reaching out to chambers of commerce, technology organizations, world trade centers, and similar groups. This initiative would help to promote the use of professional translators and interpreters and dispel misperceptions about our industry. These efforts can have the added benefit of expanding membership as well.

3) Continued Inclusion and Expansion of Opportunities for Interpreters: Interpreters and the work they do are an integral part of ATA. I support continued outreach to the community of interpreters and collaboration with interpreter organizations such as the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators.

4) Leadership Development: I support the dissemination of leadership best practices from the national organization to our regional chapters. The best way to develop good leadership and volunteerism within ATA is to foster it at the local level. Formalizing this by providing effective leadership training will help to develop the health and vitality of chapters as well as the entire Association.

5) Education: The common thread that unites all translators and interpreters is a voracious appetite for knowledge. By providing ongoing continuing education opportunities (in the form of webinars and other virtual events as well as conferences and seminars), we raise the level of our professionalism and credibility with decision-makers from outside of our profession.

I look forward to receiving your input on these and other relevant topics and to seeing many of you in Chicago at our 55th Annual Conference!

(three-year term)
Marjon van den Bosch

First, I am honored to run as a candidate for ATA’s Board of Directors.

By way of introduction, I was born and raised in Amsterdam. I immigrated to the U.S. and received my MA in telecommunications from Michigan State University. I went on to a 20-year career in public radio--as a development director, then as a public radio station manager, and as executive director of a regional public radio organization.

As a teenager in The Netherlands, with an education in Dutch, English, French, German, Latin, and Ancient Greek, I always dreamed of becoming a translator and interpreter (at the UN, no less, but little did I know then that the UN only has six official languages--and Dutch was certainly not one of them!). Well, I am not at the UN, but I had the opportunity to work full-time at a patent law firm office for four months in 2004 translating Dutch documents. I was totally hooked and soon thereafter joined ATA. Since then, I have developed a full-time translation practice (Dutch, Flemish, and Afrikaans), specializing in legal and life sciences, with occasional interpreting work for federal agencies, Washington, DC law firms, and various translation agencies.

Shortly after joining ATA, I became involved with the National Capital Area Translators Association (NCATA), an ATA chapter. For the past four years, I have served as NCATA president. This is a role that has been incredibly rewarding. NCATA’s board has delivered valuable services to its members in the Washington, DC area, including a great website and online directory (, weekly e-mail blasts about job and educational opportunities, cultural events, and monthly member meet-ups around the DC area.

Like ATA, NCATA loses members every year. But thanks to our board’s collective efforts, we always hit our membership target by the end of the year. NCATA has promoted ATA at every opportunity, and this is just one of the many things I hope all ATA chapters, affiliates, and divisions will continue to do.

Among other priorities for ATA, I would like to see some redirection of the Association’s financial resources to once again make public relations/advocacy a high priority.

Our industry is undergoing transformation. We also have to stay on top of the needs of the younger colleagues coming after us. Their needs and expectations are quite different from those of us who are a tad older.

ATA needs to be more of a player when the translation and interpreting industry has the opportunity to have a seat at the table--locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally, and in the press.

ATA delivers many valuable membership services, but it could do a better job as an aggressive industry advocate and spokesperson. We need to be more than “the invisibles.” Setting priorities--especially financial ones--is the most challenging issue any membership organization faces constantly. But no membership organization can afford to
get stuck in a trap of “this is how we have always done it.”

I hope you will give me an opportunity to serve our ATA.