Kelli C. Baxter
In this year of firsts and the return to in-person meetings and events, I’m honored to serve as your new executive director. I couldn’t be more thrilled to join such a warm and welcoming team of professionals who serve as your ATA Headquarters staff. They spend their days researching, creating, and driving the strategic mission of ATA and are the true heartbeat of the Association.
My first introduction to ATA was in Los Angeles at ATA63. As a native of Los Angeles, it felt good to be “back home” as I embarked on a new journey in a new industry. The conference was the perfect way to start my tenure, and I was greeted by the Headquarters staff and the Board with open arms. I was impressed with the attendance of the first fully in-person conference since 2019. Being able to attract 1,100 attendees is not an easy feat, particularly when associations are still adapting their events to the challenges of our “new normal,” but the staff and conference planning team made it look seamless!
As I met with attendees and volunteer leaders, I felt the energy generated by everyone being back together and witnessed the passion our members have for their profession and the industry. I experienced the best of both worlds, gaining fresh perspective from those new to the profession and a sense of the professional legacy those with years of experience bring to ATA. In those five short days, I was able to soak up the vast knowledge and expansive ideas from attendees that flowed through the meeting rooms and into the evening networking events, where I felt the true sense of family that lies within this Association. I carried that experience back to the office in Alexandria and hit the ground running.
As we prepare for 2023, the anticipation for an even bigger and better ATA is looming. ATA members are the best and brightest in the industry, and I’m in awe of the work you do. ATA has successfully navigated a pandemic, the challenges of organizing virtual/hybrid conferences, a successful return to in-person events, and now the “changing of the guard” with a new executive director. By now we all must know that change is sometimes inevitable, and with change come new possibilities and new perspectives. I would be remiss if I didn’t applaud the hard work, guidance, and leadership of my predecessor, Walter “Mooch” Bacak. His leadership and passion for ATA members and volunteers will carry on in the staff and all that he accomplished in his 28 years of service to the industry.
As I embark on these first few months, I plan to be on a listening tour. While that tour started in Los Angeles, it will make many stops along the way through to ATA64 in Miami next year. My priority is in the strategic goals and initiatives set by ATA’s Board, and my primary goal will be getting to know more members by sitting in on committee calls and listening to what you, the members, want to see in 2023. Some of those areas of concentration will include:
- Expanded membership growth and development.
- Enhanced marketing and communications, creating broader visibility through the current ATA brand.
- Creating new alliance partnerships that will further advance the Board’s strategic goals and initiatives while also continuing to build on existing relationships within the industry.
With the help of the Headquarters staff, I want to help connect what you do now in your day-to-day work to what ATA can do for your business. ATA members share a vision of promoting the recognition of professional translators and interpreters, and I couldn’t be prouder and more excited to be part of such a rich and robust group of professionals. In closing out this year, I hope you’ll be able to reflect on all that ATA has accomplished and get excited about what’s still to come. I look forward to serving the Association and taking us to new heights.