ATA 2017 Elections: Candidate Statements

ATA will hold its regularly scheduled elections at the upcoming ATA Annual Conference in Washington, DC, to elect a president-elect, secretary, and treasurer for a two-year term, as well as three directors for a three-year term. In addition, members will vote on proposed revisions to ATA’s bylaws and a resolution supporting diversity.

President-elect (Two-year Term)

Ted Wozniak

WozniakFirst, I would like to thank the Nominating and Leadership Development Committee for selecting me as a candidate for president-elect. I am truly honored.

As most of you know, the primary duty of the president-elect is to serve as the organizer for ATA’s Annual Conference. Our Annual Conference is the “go to” event for translators and interpreters from around the globe. It is also the largest professional event for translators and interpreters in the world. As conference organizer, I will endeavor to ensure that ATA59 and ATA60 live up to the high standards expected of the conference, that the sessions provide top quality professional development, and that attendees get the most “bang for their buck.”

While my primary focus will be to ensure the quality of the sessions, I will also seek to increase the other benefits of attending to give attendees the best possible cost/benefit ratio. ATA59 will be held in my hometown of New Orleans, one of the most popular destinations in the U.S. for “foodies,” and where we can certainly “let the good times roll.” Organizing ATA60 in Palm Springs, California, may be challenging, as this will be the first time ATA will hold its Annual Conference in a convention center. A successful ATA60 would expand our options in terms of possible locations for future conferences, many of which could result in a lower overall cost to attendees thanks to lower travel and hotel costs.

But organizing the conference will not be my sole focus as president-elect. I will continue to work closely with the other officers and directors on all issues affecting ATA. I will ensure that the new treasurer has a smooth transition and can hit the road running. I will continue to keep an eye on the Association’s finances and will work closely with the president to improve ATA on behalf of its members.

As president, I hope to have but a single overarching focus—membership. Our membership numbers have stagnated in recent years, even as the number of translators and interpreters in the industry has reportedly grown. ATA needs to improve its message to translators and interpreters about the benefits of membership and have a more convincing selling proposition. But improving the message and delivering it more effectively is not the only solution to increasing membership numbers. We also need to provide additional benefits, both tangible and intangible, to demonstrate to professional translators and interpreters that paying dues to ATA is money well spent.

For several years, I have advocated bringing back what I call “COTAs” (Conferences Other than Annual). Such conferences, be they focused on a geographic region, high-level professional development in particular specialties, or specific divisions or languages, can and should offer top quality professional development at a much lower cost than the Annual Conference. We should also look at other tangible benefits that might be provided, such as discounts on software and group rates on other necessary services such as insurance (including health care if the legal environment changes) and legal and accounting services.

Thanks for the opportunity to serve our Association.

Secretary (Two-year Term)

Karen Tkaczyk

TkaczykI am honored to be nominated to run as secretary and welcome the opportunity to expand my contribution to ATA.

I have volunteered extensively for our profession since I became a freelance translator in 2005. Within ATA, I started with divisions. I was one of three people who re-established the Science and Technology Division in 2010, and I served as its administrator from then until 2015. I’ve chaired Nominating Committees for the French Language Division and Language Technology Division. I was chair of the Divisions Committee from 2011–2015, so I worked extensively with all divisions. One of my achievements during that time was to lead a project to revamp and restructure the existing Divisions Handbook, a guide for leaders on how to get things done, and then update it annually. I served on ATA’s Nominating and Leadership Development Committee from 2011–2015. That role gave me insight into what it takes to be an effective ATA leader. Currently, I’m on the Professional Development Committee, for which I run ATA’s webinar program. I also chair the newly-formed ad hoc Website Committee, which is focusing on how we should restructure ATA’s website.

I was vice president and then president of the Nevada Interpreters and Translators Association from 2007–2011. During that time, opportunities for progress and change abounded. Among other achievements, we grew the membership and became an ATA Affiliate. I now live in Colorado, where I am an active member of the Colorado Translators Association.

My volunteer experience has covered everything from policy and procedural matters to event planning and motivating other volunteers. I often hold the secretary position in committees (in my community, for instance). I am well-practiced at taking effective notes and producing minutes while still participating in discussions. I am confident that I would work well with the other incoming officer candidates and that we would be a productive team for the next two years. If I am not elected secretary, I will be pleased to continue to serve the rest of my term as director. If I am elected, my focus will be to carefully capture and convey Board activity and decisions so that ATA’s written records are clear and precise. I will also still continue to work in other areas that the Board handles and that I care about. I particularly enjoy improving the processes that the Board, other volunteers, and Headquarters use to work together. I aim for increased transparency and consistency.

I look forward to using my calm temperament and orderly approach to tasks to work productively with everyone involved. Thank you for considering me.

Treasurer (Two-year Term)

John M. Milan

MilanI have served on ATA’s Finance and Audit Committee (FAC) for the past three years, working closely with the president, president-elect, executive director, treasurer, and other Board members. The FAC oversees the Association’s finances and ensures accurate financial reporting. This experience has given me a clear view of ATA’s potential, along with the challenges we face.

During this time, I have also worked with ATA Director Evelyn Yang Garland and Treasurer Ted R. Wozniak on developing a conference-costing tool that analyzes our past revenue and expenses and uses that information to help the Board plan and budget for future conferences. If elected treasurer, I shall continue to work closely with the FAC, seeking out areas to improve the stewardship of ATA’s resources and ensuring that ATA remains financially sound, transparent, and duly audited.

For those who don’t know me, I am an ATA-certified Portuguese>English translator with over 20 years of experience in our industry. I have an MS in applied microeconomics from Ohio State University, where I was a foreign-language fellow specializing in Portuguese translation and linguistics. I also have degrees in international political economy and Spanish from Indiana University, and I studied at the Institute of European Studies in Madrid, Spain. I spent 11 years in Brazil on the faculty of a university in São Paulo, as an adjunct professor of economics, while concomitantly working as a freelance translator, interpreter, editor, and consultant. Among other relevant experience, I was the financial administrator of a nonprofit organization employing eight people with a $1 million budget, in addition to being the managing director of three businesses, one of which had 45 people on staff and a $3 million budget.

From 2009–2016, I served on the board of the Carolina Association of Translators and Interpreters (CATI), as a director, vice president, and then president. During my time at CATI, we developed a local mentoring program, expanded outreach efforts to universities and other professional associations, held quarterly meetups for translators and interpreters in cities throughout the Carolinas, updated and digitized our operating procedures, and took the chapter paperless. The most significant accomplishment was helping to organize well-attended annual conferences in partnership with foreign-language and interpreter training programs in the region.

I shall draw on all this experience to make sure that ATA has a solid budget, sufficient funding, accurate financial statements, and an open channel of communication with the membership.

I look forward to this opportunity and am honored to be considered for this position.

Director (Three-year term)

Jennifer Guernsey

GuernseyAs I celebrate 20 years of ATA membership, I am honored to have been nominated to serve as an ATA director.

Though I first put my Russian degree to use running tour groups in the USSR, processing refugee applications, and assisting in biological defense research, translating was my side gig throughout. It became my primary occupation in 2003, the same year I attended my first ATA conference in Phoenix. From that first conference, I was hooked. I had found my tribe! Through ATA, I have gained knowledge, clients, trusted colleagues, and close friends. ATA’s Slavic Languages Division (SLD) promptly recruited me as a newsletter copy editor, and I subsequently served the SLD as assistant division administrator, as a member of its Leadership Council, and as a presenter at ATA Annual Conferences.

ATA has amazingly diverse stakeholders: translators, interpreters, company owners, instructors, researchers, project managers, and freelancers. No two members fill the same niche. It can be challenging to meet the sometimes conflicting needs of these groups. My colleagues describe me as a good communicator, a good listener, and a team player who is flexible and open to good ideas from any source. My particular passion in the SLD has been welcoming and integrating newcomers and ensuring that the “minority languages” in our Russian-dominated division are adequately served. I believe my ability to perceive and balance the needs of a varied membership will enable me to serve as a conduit to the Board for ideas and concerns from all sides.

As an ATA director, I would like to focus on increasing transparency and communication between the Board and the membership. The Board has made tremendous progress on this over the past several years through the ATATalk listserv, clear and accessible Board meeting summaries, and periodic and thorough treasurer’s reports. I hope to increase communications further regarding significant Board decisions. For example, in late 2014, I perceived that a dearth of information and transparency about conference site selection, session selection, and distinguished speaker selection and funding had led to grumbling and wild speculation about these processes. Therefore, I initiated an article in The ATA Chronicle entitled “Anatomy of an ATA Conference” (February 2015), in which I interviewed then-President-elect David Rumsey to clarify how conference planning works.

I perceive ATA as occupying a critical nexus in this era of a rapidly changing language services marketplace. Again, communication is key. I support expanding our existing public relations and client education efforts, which I believe are critical to ATA’s mission. But I also hope to foster communication among translators, interpreters, agencies, government, software and translation tool developers, and consumers of translation services. I would also like to reach out to other associations, to include other translators’ and interpreters’ organizations and related organizations like the American Medical Writers Association and the American Bar Association, and to explore joint opportunities for client education and member training.

I am a firm believer in “giving back” through service, so I welcome the opportunity to serve ATA in this fashion. Thank you for your consideration.

Tony Guerra

GuerraI am honored to be nominated for a position on ATA’s Board of Directors. This role is one that I would enthusiastically welcome and one that I would infuse with the same passion, creativity, energy, and vision that I have brought to every professional endeavor throughout my career.

I first worked in the language services industry on the corporate side, starting at a Fortune 500 company in 1994. I then worked at smaller agencies, utilizing language for multicultural marketing and focusing on connecting communities. Subsequently, I moved on to freelance work as a language services consultant specializing in Spanish legal, medical, and labor translation, interpreting, and communication. Returning to agency work in 2006, and during the 10 years that followed, I successfully launched and developed a local language company’s interpreting program into a profitable, award-winning international operation with major clients in the government, health care, and legal sectors. In 2016, I resumed my freelance interpreting career, and I have recently embarked on completing my medical and legal certification.

Throughout my freelance and agency phases, I became increasingly involved as a volunteer with ATA and the Delaware Valley Translators Association (DVTA), my local chapter. At DVTA, I served first as a director and most recently as its president and chair of its Public Relations and Certification Committees.

My current ATA activities include my role as chair of the Chapters Committee and participation in the Interpretation Policy Advisory Committee, the PR Committee’s Speakers Forum, ATA’s Mentoring Program, and the Leadership Council of the Medical Division (for which I served two terms as assistant division administrator). I also served on ATA’s Nominating and Leadership Development Committee from 2012 to 2016. I have had the pleasure and the privilege of collaborating with many brilliant and generous volunteer leaders, some of whom are current and past ATA Board members. Together, I am proud to say that we have accomplished a great deal.

How does the sum of this experience qualify me as a worthy contributor to ATA’s Board?  I am told by my peers that I am a great listener and a consensus builder. My livelihood and volunteer work have consistently focused on raising the standards of our profession and fostering a strong sense of community. I have always viewed myself as an advocate for our profession, whether organizing an intimate chapter networking event, a 12-language military conference in Korea, or speaking to the Philadelphia Bar Association on the importance of working with professional language services. The diversity of my professional experience will be an asset to the Board, allowing me to offer unique perspectives on the current trends and issues shaping the translation and interpreting industry from both the supply side and the buyer’s side.

I ask for your vote so that I may be your advocate. I believe in our power as an association to affect change, and I am committed to promoting the use of our collective voice to strengthen our unity and gain greater public respect for our profession. Thank you for considering my candidacy.

Geoff Koby

KobyOver the past three years it has been my honor and privilege to work with the diligent and highly professional members of ATA’s Board. At the same time, I continue to work full-time as a professor of translation studies, training translators and researching translation pedagogy, assessment, and quality, and part-time as a freelance legal, business, and financial translator. I also continue to grade German>English certification exams.

Quarterly Board meetings involve intense weekends of work on a wide variety of topics. We read chapter and division reports and deal with ongoing major policy issues as they arise. During my term these issues have included such things as decoupling certification from membership, recognizing interpreters in the online directory, and approving a uniform website policy for divisions.

With my background in financial translation, I have focused particularly on monitoring ATA’s finances in detail. Luckily, the Association’s finances have been very capably managed by ATA Treasurer Ted Wozniak and ATA’s financial staff at Headquarters. This included important policy changes and conference pricing models that helped bring ATA’s financial figures back into the black!

Conference pricing is always a particularly interesting topic. As a matter of principle, I believe ATA’s conference revenue should always at least cover conference costs, because otherwise ATA’s general revenue (i.e., membership dues) must make up the difference. And yet we must strive to keep the conference both highly professional and reasonably affordable. This may also include holding the conference in smaller cities. I look forward to the Palm Springs conference as a test of a possible new approach.

My last candidate statement emphasized education and certification, but also advocacy for all professional translation and interpreting activity. As issues and challenges have arisen, I’ve worked on projects for ATA in a variety of areas listed below:

  • Worked with the Certification Committee and a programmer to develop a database for online certification exam grading.
  • Wrote an article on certification pass rates for The ATA Chronicle.
  • Chaired The ATA Chronicle Editorial Board.
    • Participated in quarterly phone meetings to develop content for the magazine;
    • Wrote the final assessment report on The ATA Chronicle redesign task force.
  • Appointed to ATA’s Governance and Communication Committee.
    • Helped develop ATA’s policy on substantive member resolutions;
    • Helped develop the current bylaws revisions; and
    • Monitored the ATATalk listserve for issues related to certification since December 2015.
  • Served on ATA’s Education and Pedagogy Committee.
    • Working to develop grants for translator and interpreter education.
  • Helped develop the 2015 ATA Translation and Interpreting Compensation Survey.
    • Proposed creating an ad hoc advisory board for the next survey.
  • Appointed in November 2016 to the board of the American Foundation for Translation and Interpretation, ATA’s foundation for charitable activities, education, and research in support of the translation and interpreting professions.
  • Analyzed the sites of past ATA conferences and the geographical distribution of ATA members and helped develop a site selection policy.

If re-elected, I will still represent the interests of all ATA members. I would be honored to be able to continue to serve ATA on the Board.

Elena Langdon

LangdonIt’s an honor to run for a position on ATA’s Board of Directors after 13 years of active involvement and proud membership. If elected, I plan to focus my energies on strengthening the Association in three areas that are dear to me: interpreting, policy, and training.

I moved from the U.S. to Brazil when I was a child and grew up between the two countries. Code switching and bicultural negotiation were constants for me. I started translating for a living in my mid-20s. However, it wasn’t until I became actively involved with professional associations, and primarily with ATA, that I saw myself as a translator and soon after as an interpreter. Along with certification and a master’s degree in the field, ATA membership has kept me alive and kicking all these years, constantly opening up new paths and connections.

I am an engaged member of every association to which I belong. I help produce a bimonthly webinar for interpreter trainers for the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care, serving as its host and webpage administrator. As a board member of the New England Translators Association, I organized an annual conference with nearly twice the attendance compared to the previous year. I have served as treasurer and administrator of ATA’s Portuguese Language Division. I also helped launch the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters by joining its inaugural board and becoming its second chair.

ATA membership has given me a sense of community and connection with other professionals in the field, and yet many of us worry that current trends will fracture our ties and weaken our presence in the larger context. For this reason, as a Board member, my focus would be along the following lines:

  • Strengthen the base of interpreters within ATA by reaching out to interpreters who are not yet members and providing more educational and networking opportunities for those who are. ATA can be seen as the voice for interpreters, as its tagline states, but it is not there yet.
  • Shape national policies on language and language access to increase the visibility and role of professional interpreters in community and business settings. In the fast-changing environment of remote technologies, for example, we need to ensure that recognized professionals are the ones working to bridge the language divide.
  • Create a strong network of educators to cohesively advance quality interpreting and translation. Many of us reinvent the wheel over and over, and ATA could be a hub for trainers, instructors, and academics working in the field to educate our future colleagues.

Finally, I hope to color the conversation at the Board level by bringing to it traits I honed in my adopted culture. Brazilians are resourceful, inventive, and steadfastly positive people. As a result, my dedication is tinged with levity and imbued with a strong sense of endless possibility. It would be an honor to represent ATA members on its Board of Directors. Thank you for your consideration.

Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo

ZampauloAs I wrap up my current term as a director on ATA’s Board, I am incredibly humbled to be nominated to run for a second term.

For those who don’t know me, I have worked in the translation and interpreting industry for the past 10 years. I served as the administrator of ATA’s Medical Division from 2011 to 2015, and I was appointed chair of the Public Relations Committee in 2014.

During my time as chair of the PR Committee, we have come a long way in promoting the profession and the members of ATA. First, I am proud of having led the project of refining the PR message. In addition, I worked directly with ATA leadership and Headquarters to hire a professional speaker trainer to train our PR spokespeople and event speakers. We now have 12 spokespeople and event speakers who are trained to deliver ATA’s PR message to the public. I helped coordinate the hiring of a PR firm that regularly pitches articles, written by members of the PR Committee, to industry magazines and journals. I also oversee the writing and pitching of these articles. So far, we have over 40 publications in various trade magazines and journals. If you have not read these articles, I invite you to view them on ATA’s website and share them with clients and colleagues (

If re-elected to the Board, I plan to continue my work in PR and take it several steps further. For example, I would like to see our spokespeople and event speakers have more opportunities to speak about the profession and promote ATA members in various venues. I would also like to create materials that help guide our members to utilize the work of the committee to further promote their professions and their work to potential clients. I want to ensure that you, as individual ATA members, can benefit from the work the PR Committee is doing and convert it into a return on the investment you make every year, simply by being dues-paying members.

In addition to my work in PR, I recently joined the ad hoc Website Committee to assist in revamping ATA’s website. I feel it is essential for me to be involved with this project, as I want to ensure that our members are well represented to the public through the website and the online directory. If you have input on improvements we can make to the site, please reach out to me.

While I am proud of my work over the past three years as a director on the Board, I feel it is crucial to look ahead to the future. We live in a time that allows us a unique opportunity and an obligation to educate the public about our work as professionals. The value we bring to so many industries cannot be overlooked. I hope you will consider voting for me. I would be honored to serve a second term as an ATA director.

Kyle Vraa

VraaI have been a full-time freelance translator since the summer of 2000 (ATA-certified: Danish>English, German>English).
In addition to Danish and German, I also translate from the Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish, and Dutch languages into English.

I became a mentor in ATA’s Mentoring Program in 2013, and have taken on individual mentees each year since that time. I was invited to become a member of ATA’s Mentoring Committee in 2016, and participated in the mentor-mentee matching process with other committee members for the 2016–2017 and 2017–2018 mentoring years.

There are three areas of interest for which I could bring a good perspective to ATA’s Board: 1) languages of limited diffusion, 2) mentoring, and 3) expansion of ATA’s co-sponsorship of seminars and conferences abroad.

Working with a major language (German) alongside languages of limited diffusion—the Scandinavian languages and Dutch—has taught me that the approaches to a career in translation and the interests of established translators working with major languages and those working with languages of limited diffusion are interconnected, but different. Pricing for services, narrowing or broadening fields of specialization, whether to target direct clients or agencies, and many other considerations require an approach for languages of limited diffusion that differs from the major languages in the translation industry. My perspective working on both sides of this equation would be a valuable resource to the Board as it strives to represent the interests of all members of the organization.

Recently starting my fifth year as mentor to a mentee in ATA’s Mentoring Program has reinforced my commitment to helping recent graduates and career changers make the transition into our profession. When I started my career 17 years ago, I did so without the benefit of a mentor. As a dedicated and independent individual, I learned and built my translation career through trial and error, not really certain that people could actually make a living doing only translation. After nearly two decades as a successful freelancer, it’s a pleasure to reassure nervous newcomers to the profession that succeeding in translation is not a mere fantasy, but a very realistic professional goal with the correct approach. I would like to continue to advocate for mentoring as a member of the Board.

Finally, I have had the pleasure of attending two conferences abroad (in Warsaw, Poland, and Freiburg, Germany) that were co-sponsored by ATA. As a regular attendee of many years of ATA’s Annual Conference, I found earning ATA continuing education credits at smaller conferences abroad to be an excellent opportunity to go to new places and network with translators who don’t have the opportunity to attend the Annual Conference. I would like to be an advocate on ATA’s Board for the expansion of these conference opportunities.


Proposed Bylaws Revisions and Resolution

Proposed Changes to the Bylaws to be Presented to the Membership for 
Voting in October 2017

In addition to electing Board officers and directors, voting members will also vote on some proposed bylaws revisions. The Board approved putting forward a proposed bylaws revision for approval by the membership. The changes are intended to expand voting rights to associate members who are professionally engaged in language services and have been members for three consecutive years. All current voting members will be grandfathered in, which means they could drop their membership for a year, rejoin, and be able to vote. The proposed revisions are online at Please note that material proposed to be deleted is struck through; material proposed to be added is underlined. ATA’s bylaws may be altered, amended, or repealed by a two-thirds vote of the voting members.

Resolution Supporting Diversity

In addition to the proposed bylaws changes, the Board approved presenting to the membership for their approval a resolution supporting diversity. The statement appears below:

“Whereas translators and interpreters are committed to promoting and facilitating communication and understanding between peoples, be it resolved that we, members of the American Translators Association, strongly oppose all forms of discrimination on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, country of origin, or sexual orientation, as well as all forms of expression of and incitement to xenophobia, racial hatred, and religious intolerance, and strongly favor welcoming qualified immigrants who, with their skills and knowledge, contribute to the wealth of our country or seek refuge here from war or persecution.”


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