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Featured Article from The ATA Chronicle (March 2006)

Planning, Public Relations, and Promoting New Ties

Marian S. Greenfield, ATA President

This past month has certainly been a busy and high mileage one...

The ATA Board of Directors held its quarterly Board meeting plus a Planning Day in Orlando, Florida. Next, the Public Relations Committee leadership met for a strategy meeting in Alexandria, Virginia. Finally, representing ATA, I was the keynote speaker at the Israeli Translators' Association Annual Conference in Jerusalem.

ATA Board Meeting and Planning Day

For the past decade or so, at the first Board meeting after the conference where the new president takes office, the Board has also met for an informal Planning Day. This gives the new Board time to get to know each other and the opportunity to step back and look at the organization overall and its longer range goals. One of the activities has been to determine the association's top three priorities for the next two to three years. Not surprisingly, the certification program continues to be the top priority for ATA. This year, we talked a lot about the certification continuing education requirements, which we all agreed are important for the credential and the program overall, acknowledging that they are also a work in progress. During the Board meeting we charged the Continuing Education Requirements Committee with a general review of the program, to propose additions and changes to the requirements grid and the various points assigned to each category. Committee Chair Arlene Kelly will be soliciting input for her April report to the Board, so you can e-mail any suggestions to the committee at CERcomm@atanet.org .

Another area we all felt needed more attention was internal communications with members. We are trying to address this in many ways, from the new Headquarters phone system, to columns in The Chronicle , to our newly redesigned website. While we are very pleased with the website redesign, we realize that we need to review the actual website content as well. Obviously, we made some changes with the redesign, but the feeling was that more work is needed in this area. To this end, the Board established an Ad Hoc Website Review Committee, chaired by ATA Director Jean Leblon. Jean will be soliciting your input on the website copy and navigation. Please let him know about text that needs to be clarified or reworded plus, of course, any typos, bugs, or bad links. (For more on this initiative, please see the announcement at the end of this column.)

The internal communications discussion was the prelude to the Board establishing a Governance and Communications Committee, which will be chaired by Director Nick Hartmann.

The third priority is to focus on adding and enhancing member benefits. The Board and Headquarters staff have several ideas on this matter. I will share them with you as they develop.

One that came out of the planning meeting is to have a professional designation for ATA-certified translators, along the lines of the CAE designation that appears after ATA Executive Director Walter Bacak's name (Certified Association Executive, awarded by the American Society of Association Executives). We are currently exploring the feasibility of creating such a designation for our profession.

The Board felt that the Planning Day was so successful in integrating the new Board members into the fold and so productive that it should be an annual activity. Therefore, we will schedule a Planning Day in conjunction with the first Board meeting following each Annual Conference.

ATA Public Relations Committee Meeting

There is lots of hot news from the Public Relations Committee. Co-chair Chris Durban has stepped down due to the added responsibilities of her election as president of the Société française des traducteurs, but we are happy to report that she will continue to serve on the committee. Former ATA Director Kirk Anderson will step in as the new co-chair to serve alongside co-chair Kevin Hendzel. The objective of the meeting was to look at what the committee has accomplished thus far and what areas need to be addressed. There will be an increased focus on translation and interpreting issues at the local level?such as medical interpreting?and on communicating with the business press. Of course, we will continue our efforts in working with the national media.

A recent PR effort resulted in ATA being featured on an Internet radio show, which led to a six-part series on ATA and the translation and interpreting professions. For more information, please check out the MyTechnologyLawyer radio show at www.atanet.org/pressroom/ata_in_the_news.php (click on ATA on the Radio).

Israeli Translators' Association Annual Conference

Last summer at the Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs Congress, ATA President-elect Jiri Stejskal and I met Sarah Yarkoni, the chair of the Israeli Translators' Association (ITA), who asked us both to speak at this year's ITA Annual Conference, its first international conference. My keynote address focused on ATA's message of abandoning the poverty cult (thank you to Neil Inglis and Kevin Hendzel), producing a quality product, educating your clients, and promoting enlightened self-interest in the form of serving one's professional association and the translation community in general. Jiri spoke about certification.

Our trip to Israel was a truly memorable experience, for the quality and organization of the conference, but most especially for the incredibly warm welcome we received. We were thrilled to have a breakfast meeting with local ATA members (and some members who had come from the U.S.). We are grateful to the ITA members who took such pride in showing us their cuisine, their cities, their country, and even their homes.

I look forward to seeing many of our newfound ITA friends in New Orleans and to continuing to share my efforts to promote ATA and all the great work done by volunteers to enhance our association and promote translation and interpreting.

A Look at the New Website

N ow that the new ATA website is online, we want to know how you like it. The ATA Board of Directors is always seeking ways to augment and improve the information that members and the public at large will find concerning ATA. The website is our most visible channel of communication. For that reason, we want to make it as complete and reader-friendly as possible. On the one hand, we hope that you will find that navigating through the new site is smooth and intuitive. On the other hand, ATA President Marian

S. Greenfield has charged an ad hoc committee with the review of the content of the new website. Our committee will make recommendations for applicable modifications.

In the past, from the results of surveys of the membership and in several other ways, we have received messages of dissatisfaction and suggestions about the current website from a number of members. In order to ensure that we consider in the new website as wide a range of problems as possible, we are asking all ATA members to communicate to us their remarks and suggestions for improvement of the content.

Please visit the new website often in the near future and tell us frankly what you think of the content. Are the sections clearly delineated? Is the language direct and easy to understand? Very importantly, are the indicated links taking you to the pertinent sections, avoiding "dead ends" in the text? Do you find inconsistencies between the various sections? What, in your opinion, do you find is unnecessary or repetitious? What would you like to find that is not on the website now? What information is hard to find?

We hope that you will help us to enhance the content of the website in every way you think it could be improved. We, in turn, will consider your remarks, suggestions, and complaints, and disclose those we believe relevant and applicable in our recommendations to the text writers.

Please address your mail to Jean Leblon at jean_leblon@msn.com any time before May 1, 2006, but the sooner the better. Thank you.