ATA 2015 Elections: Candidate Statements

ATA will hold its regularly scheduled elections at the upcoming ATA Annual Conference in Miami to elect a president-elect, secretary, and treasurer for a two-year term, as well as three directors for a three-year term.

President-elect: (two-year term)

Corinne McKay

McKaySince being elected to ATA’s Board of Directors in 2012, I have learned a great deal about how our Association works, what we’re doing right, and where we can do better. Without a doubt, ATA is the premier association for translators and interpreters worldwide, and our Annual Conference is the flagship event of our industry. As ATA moves toward 60 years as “the voice of interpreters and translators,” I am honored to have been nominated to serve as president-elect.

During my term as an ATA director, I have worked hard to be a responsible steward of ATA’s mission. This commitment has taken many forms. Upon joining the Board, I served on the committee that revised ATA’s ethics guidelines, and I took on the role of moderating ATA’s LinkedIn forum. Most recently, I chaired the ATA Chronicle Task Force, which was charged with investigating new delivery platforms and expanding the content of the magazine while improving cost efficiency.

As a director, I made a commitment to be accessible to members: first, by answering every e-mail that an ATA member sends to me; second, by actively soliciting member feedback before every Board meeting; and third, by spending part of my time at ATA’s Annual Conference approaching members and asking for their thoughts. As president-elect, I promise to continue to support openness and dialogue within ATA.

In the next two years, my primary responsibility will be to serve as conference organizer for ATA’s 57th Annual Conference (San Francisco) and our 58th Annual Conference (Washington, DC). My goal is to keep our conference a must-attend event in the language industry, while listening to your feedback on what sessions and extra events you’d like to attend.

I’m proud to be an ATA leader and want to see our Association continue to lead the language industry. To do this, I think we need to continue our internal and external public relations efforts so that ATA members know what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, and so that clients understand the value of using a professional translator or interpreter. Alongside this goal, I hope that we can increase recognition of the CT (certified translator) credential, recognize credentialed interpreters in ATA’s directory, and increase recognition of our Certification Program in general. I would also like to help make ATA the go-to resource for professional development for translators and interpreters. I believe that ATA has the talent and know-how to create a sustainable, top-notch professional development program that will help improve the business skills and linguistic expertise of its members. In addition to raising the bar for our members, this will also help attract new people to the Association.

In addition to continuing to focus on recruiting recent graduates of translation and interpreting programs as well as interpreters, I would like to see us expand our efforts in recruiting members from ATA’s many chapters and affiliates, which are often the first point of contact for people new to our industry. Bringing these people into the fold of the Association is the key to our future success.

Secretary: (two-year term)

Rudy Heller

HellerTwo years ago, after being an ATA member for 30 years, I ran for a position on the Board. I’m honored that you gave me a vote of confidence and elected me. I come before you again to ask you to vote for me for ATA secretary.

These past two years as director have been very interesting, in part because ATA finds itself in a situation that requires soul-searching to respond to today’s professional environment. ATA’s mission is to advocate for the interests of its members, particularly the freelance translators and interpreters that comprise the bulk of the Association.

I’m pleased to have played a part in effecting some positive steps in the past two years. I’ve enjoyed working with the Board, officers, and staff. Add to that a plethora of volunteers: they are the ones who make things happen. While the pace of change is a bit too slow for me, I’ve learned that unintended consequences happen when we march at more than a very deliberate pace.

Here’s an overview of what’s been accomplished within the past two years:

  • We’ve continued working on improving the Certification Program. There’s still one huge flaw on which we’re all focused: moving from a handwritten to a keyboarded exam. Please know that news on that front is forthcoming.
  • The Chronicle is being updated. It’ll no longer be a huge drain on the Association’s resources. Your opting out of the print edition and choosing the electronic version has been very helpful. Soon you’ll see major changes in our flagship publication, which will not only cost less but will result in a much more dynamic resource.
  • With the Board’s support, our treasurer has embarked on comprehensive cost/benefit analyses that’ll help us direct our funds into those areas where the greatest number of members will benefit. Many of our programs operate in the red. The Board knows that losing money is not sustainable and has made it a priority to remedy that.
  • The Public Relations Committee is working hard at representing translators and interpreters in the eyes of the public. One day ATA will be where everybody goes when anything related to language is talked about in the news and elsewhere. To accomplish that we’ve signed contracts that will direct traffic in our direction and will help us present a consistent, clean, and cohesive message.
  • We are working on ways to communicate with the membership so that more people can participate in the Association’s governance. No more apathy! Member participation must increase for the Association to remain healthy. The “become a voting member” campaign will soon start to show results. It’s important to become a voting member. We want everyone to have a say in the organization.

My predecessors set a very high bar. I’ll do my best to match that, and if possible improve on it. Keeping track of what the Board does and communicating with the members are two important tasks, and I’ll work hard so that in two years you’ll be glad you voted for me.

Treasurer: (two-year term)

Ted Wozniak

WozniakI am a German>English financial translator specializing in accounting and taxation translation. I have been a freelancer for about 20 years, and previously worked as an accountant, U.S. Army interrogator, and stockbroker.

For the past five years, I have been privileged to serve as one of your representatives on ATA’s Board of Directors, the past two years as treasurer and chair of the Finance and Audit Committee, and as a director for three years prior to that.

As treasurer, I revised the format of our financial statements to include additional information to enhance their usability. I conducted an in-depth analysis of ATA’s investments, and on the recommendation of our investment advisor and with the approval of Finance and Audit Committee, made some minor changes to the investment portfolio. I conducted extensive cost analyses of our major programs, providing the basis for a review and modification of some programs to reduce costs and increase revenues while enhancing member benefits. The upcoming changes to The ATA Chronicle are partially a result of that work. I am also spearheading a drive to bring back “Conferences Other Than Annual” (COTA). I supported a major increase in funding for public relations and am working on ways to improve support for division websites, while reducing the burden on volunteers and staff. In addition to the regular duties incumbent on me as treasurer, I also serve on the Ethics Committee.

I have worked closely with our executive director and in-house accountant on the budget process and the auditor selection process. My experience as an accountant and financial translator gives me a strong background in finance and the knowledge required to interact with our internal and external accountants and financial advisors easily and successfully.

I will continue to follow our current policy of a prudent and conservative investment approach with respect to ATA’s financial assets, while ensuring that the costs for providing member services are fair and reasonable. I will also seek to enhance ATA’s revenue streams where possible. I will carry out these duties with a constant eye on the cost-benefit ratio to you, the members of ATA whom the Board members are tasked with representing.

I respectfully ask for your support in my bid for reelection as treasurer of our great organization.

Director: (three-year term)

Jeffrey Alfonso

AlfonsoWhen ATA speaks, everyone should sit up and listen. As The Voice of Interpreters and Translators, ATA has the capacity to change public perception of interpreting and translating for the benefit of its members. I am honored to be nominated as a director.

Earlier this year, I served on the ATA Chronicle Task Force—an experience that enabled me to work closely with ATA and understand how it operates—and am now a member of the Editorial Board. I have studied our bylaws closely, attended numerous Board meetings, and read Board meeting minutes carefully. I have also blogged about Association issues in detail. All of this has afforded me a deeper understanding of ATA’s needs and challenges, as well as provided ideas on how to address them effectively.

If elected, I will focus on three main areas:

  1. Public Relations: I would like to see at least $100,000 allocated toward a comprehensive public relations program. ATA should wield international influence by investing in a professional spokesperson to shape public opinion by placing articles proactively. Whenever translation or interpreting issues are in the news, the media should automatically seek out and interview our expert representative. We can fund this with the sizable savings generated by the ATA Chronicle Task Force.
  2. Transparency and Good Governance: You need to know that the Board is a good steward of ATA. We can accomplish this by publishing more substantive Board meeting minutes as well as articles on hot topics in The ATA Chronicle. We also need to review our decision-making process to ensure that it is efficient and responds to member concerns. The ATA Chronicle Task Force did this by interviewing and polling members in order to set a clear direction. I would like to see ATA practice that kind of engagement and discussion with members whenever we have major policy decisions to make.
  3. Interpreter Credentialing: ATA should recognize outside credentials to give interpreters the same degree of acknowledgment as translators.

I would also bring substantial business skills and experience to the Board. I co-own a small language services company offering interpreting, translation, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety training, and am its chief sales and marketing officer. I am also an authorized OSHA safety trainer, working in English and Spanish. In 2014, I became a Spanish Certified Healthcare Interpreter (CHI) through the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters.

I serve on both the Hispanic Business Committee and the Diversity Council of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce. I have also served on the Medical Seminar Committee of the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Educational Association, and I founded Toastmasters Bilingüe, a public speaking club for English and Spanish speakers.

As an entrepreneur, I value genuine teamwork. If you elect me, I will work tirelessly with my fellow Board members to accomplish these goals and to keep ATA focused on your best interests. ATA must strive not only to become the authority for our professions, but also to maintain the prestige it needs to educate and persuade the end users of language services.

Melinda Gonzalez-Hibner

Gonzalez-HibnerI am honored to be a candidate for the Board once again. I hope my contributions during the past year demonstrate the level of energy and commitment I would bring to the Board if elected.

As part of the Interpretation Policy Advisory Committee, I was actively involved in an arduous and rewarding effort to have interpreter credentials recognized and displayed in the initial results page of ATA’s online directory. You will remember that I am a strong proponent of increased parity in the services offered to interpreters and translators, and having interpreter credentials recognized visibly in the online directory is a meaningful and lasting benefit for our interpreter members.

As part of the Interpreter Leadership Council for ATA’s Interpreters Division, I helped develop and analyze the results of the interpreter survey that was conducted earlier this year. The information gained through the survey provides a clear and valuable picture of the fields and languages in which our members work, and allows ATA to represent us better.

As part of the media spokespeople program for ATA’s Public Relations Committee, I am working hard so that we not only respond to stories about translation and interpreting, but we have a bigger hand in creating them. All of these efforts have at their heart the promotion of our fields of expertise and aim to benefit individual practitioners through media and event outreach.

I understand and appreciate that translation and interpreting require separate skills, take place in different settings, and face dissimilar challenges. But I also believe, whether we are talking about machine translation or video remote interpreting, the rapidly changing conditions of the workplace, or new interpreter certification opportunities, that we are stronger together.

I am conscious of the great divide between the professional standards of competence that are required to do our jobs properly and the general lack of awareness of what it takes to achieve them. I am ready to work to reduce that gap on behalf of all our members. ATA, one of the largest professional organizations for translators and interpreters in the world, must be an audible and effective voice for all of us, and I am certain that I can help make that voice stronger.

I am a federally certified court interpreter, U.S. Department of State qualified interpreter, former state court interpreter program administrator, interpreter trainer, and contributor to interpreter certification programs. Most importantly, I love what I do and I am committed to the good of the profession as a whole.

As our fields continue to experience fast transformation and growth, ATA must remain visible and engaged. ATA cannot set rates, but it can remain vocal and active on behalf of professional standards, professional development, best practices, client outreach, and public relations. It would be my honor and privilege to contribute to that work, bringing to bear all of my knowledge and experience. I believe I would be a positive addition to the Board. I hope you agree.

Christina Green

GreenI am pleased and honored to run as a candidate for ATA’s Board of Directors. As the current president of the Midwest Association of Translators and Interpreters (MATI), I am an advocate and ardent campaigner for members of MATI and ATA.

As the U.S. becomes more multicultural and globally connected, the need for a strong, unified voice among language professionals has never been more pronounced.

I have a bachelor’s degree in modern languages, with a minor in linguistics and a specialization in translation and interpreting, from the Universidad Central de Venezuela. I am proficient in several languages.

As one of the first certified court interpreters in Wisconsin, I have always advocated for better education for language professionals, coupled with stronger continuing education requirements. I believe wholeheartedly that our rapidly evolving profession underscores the need for rigorous ongoing education and advocacy.

I have been the official translator for Milwaukee Public Schools since 2006, where I have established clear translation and interpreting procedures for language professionals and facilitators who promote communication with parents. I’ve established best practices and a code of ethics that respects all legal mandates.

Since becoming MATI president, I have spearheaded the creation of a new organizational website, implemented a webinar series that is open to the public, and increased donations, membership, and revenue. I also coordinated MATI’s efforts at ATA’s 55th Annual Conference in Chicago.

A freelancer, I have owned my own agency since 2001. I have worked extensively with state agencies and law firms, both as an advisor and expert witness. This makes me uniquely qualified to understand the challenges and needs in the public and private sectors.

There are three specific areas I feel are critical for the growth and continued success of ATA.

  1. Increasing Active Membership: As the need for an effective organizational structure within the language services segment grows, we must provide the necessary framework to strengthen ATA’s ranks. We are in a unique position to be the centralized voice for interpreters and translators. Membership drives strengthen our voice and role in shaping policy, education, and support for our profession.
  2. Enhancing Visibility and Outreach: ATA serves as a cohesive network for all members. Increased membership serves to provide financial means to enhance our credibility and provide real benefits to all those in our industry segment. To that end, the effects of increased active membership and our recognition as the apex of linguistic organizations is cyclical and symbiotic.
  3. Providing Sustainable Tools for Training and Certification: In concert with items 1 and 2 above, we must provide ongoing and sustained education and skills training. Beyond state and federal certifications, we can present valuable concurrent programs to our members.

In my capacity as president of MATI, I have increased our membership substantially, made our annual meetings uniquely valuable and profitable, and established training programs to benefit MATI members, our organization, and the industry.

It would be an honor to serve as one of your directors. Thanks for the opportunity.

Tony Rosado

RosadoDear friends and colleagues, I am running for the Board because I know this is my time to contribute to our advancement as professional interpreters and translators.

From childhood, my life has taken me to all corners of the world. Living in places as diverse as Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the U.S. has given me the knowledge and experience to view issues from all perspectives and to relate to all of my colleagues, regardless of cultural and geographic background.

I have been an interpreter and translator for 30 years, and have a law degree from Mexico City. At the beginning of my career, I worked as a legal translator and interpreter, but as I got busier and my professional obligations grew, I decided to dedicate my life to interpreting. I have been very fortunate during my professional life. I have had experiences that enriched me personally and professionally. I’ve held elected positions in other interpreter and translator associations. As a businessman, I’ve proven that I know how to work with other members of the Board for the benefit and growth of the organization.

My blog, The Professional Interpreter, is followed every week by thousands of interpreters and translators worldwide. I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over the world for professional reasons, and during those travels I’ve been able to meet and listen to many interpreters and translators. I’ve heard their problems, frustrations, and concerns, and I’ve also learned of their hopes and aspirations. After listening to these voices and hearing the same thing constantly—“Why do I have to join ATA … it doesn’t do anything to improve my professional situation …”—I decided that I could do something more to give back to our profession.

If elected, I would address two major concerns:

  1. Identify the problems common to both interpreters and translators and work to fix them by fostering an environment of collaboration and unity between both professions.
  2. Do everything I can to protect the true professional interpreters and translators by developing channels and policies that will let them work doing what they love and do best: translate and interpret. I’ll encourage them to take advantage of new technologies to improve the quality of their lives. At the same time, I’ll fight for the professional treatment and deserved remuneration of all my colleagues. I’ll work toward educating the client and eliminating the unscrupulous intermediaries who see technology as a way to raise their profits and force interpreters and translators to agree to work for less.

To conclude, my motivation to run is to unite all interpreters and translators, in ATA and beyond. We must stand up and reclaim what is legitimately ours and has been taken away by big corporations who just see us as editors and proofreaders of machine translations, and as pawns on a board game paid to interpret by the minute using the technology they are keeping to themselves. Please let me try. Thank you for your vote.

Frieda Ruppaner-Lind

Ruppaner-LindI have been a full-time freelance translator for nearly 30 years and an ATA member for almost as long. Starting out as an English>German translator at the dawn of the Internet age, I always saw myself as a one-woman business and independent contractor, learning many angles of our profession and embracing new technologies as they became available. I also realized that we cannot operate in isolation.

My search for a professional association first led me to ATA and then to a regional ATA chapter, which is how I became actively involved as a member and volunteer. After serving three terms as president of the Mid-America Chapter of ATA (MICATA), I was elected as administrator of ATA’s German Language Division for two consecutive terms and served as the chair of the Divisions Committee. I am currently co-moderator of ATA’s Business Practices listserv and the chair of the Business Practices Education Committee.

After my term on ATA’s Board of Directors ended (2009–2012), I did not remain idle for long. I have been serving as president of MICATA for the past two years. Working with a devoted group of volunteers has been very exciting. We’ve seen MICATA’s annual spring conference develop into a premier event for translators and interpreters in the Midwest, with increasing registration numbers. My involvement as conference organizer and presenter also served as a good reminder to stay grounded and be aware of trends, opportunities, and challenges in our profession at the grassroots level.

The demand for continuing education and professionalism is growing, especially as more interpreters and translators are needed in many different sectors. This is why we need a strong professional association and affiliated groups to offer the more advanced training that is needed and to increase awareness of our profession. I would like to use my experience and knowledge to further strengthen ATA in similar ways.

There are several areas that will require attention in the coming years:

  • Increasing the number of voting members and participation in the elections.
  • Opening ATA’s certification exam to nonmembers.
  • Reviewing the practicality of a computer-based certification exam.
  • Keeping abreast of changes involving The ATA Chronicle.
  • Recognizing interpreters in ATA’s online directory.
  • Remaining vigilant concerning budgetary issues.

We must do all of this while maintaining the momentum created since the last elections, especially concerning our public relations efforts.

As in many other associations, communication with members is an area requiring continuous improvement. As co-moderator of ATA’s Business Practices listserv, I became acutely aware of this a few months ago when members discussed a hot-button issue. The issue dated back more than a decade, but many on the list did not know that a lot of information was already available on the topic, although it was buried in old Board meeting minutes and Chronicle articles. Given the opportunity to serve on the Board, I would like to research ways to make information on important issues readily available in a centralized online location. This would help communicate Board decisions to the membership more clearly and further enhance efforts to offer increased transparency.

Faiza Sultan

SultanI am honored to run for my second term on ATA’s Board of Directors. I want to continue to bring my passion for translation and leadership experience to ATA.

I helped establish ATA’s Arabic Language Division (ALD) and have served as its administrator for three years. During my term, I traveled two times at my expense to the United Arab Emirates to present at the United Arab Emirates University Translation Conference, where I managed to reach an initial agreement to hold an ATA certification exam. My travels have also taken me to the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani, where I gave a presentation about ATA.

Currently, I am working with ATA’s Certification Committee to establish an English>Arabic certification exam.

I was born in the city of Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. I pursued my higher studies at Mosul University, Faculty of Education, where I majored in English. I escaped the death penalty from the former Saddam regime by working as a translator. I came to the U.S. as a refugee with only hope to hold me up. My story of survival has made me stronger to face all of the challenges that any business or person can face.

I know it takes great courage to make decisions and set goals, and I take my job seriously. I was proud to be selected along with 40 other U.S. business leaders to visit the White House and meet top officials in President Obama’s administration.

Believing in tolerance and peace in the world through clear communication, I founded Darsafi, a publishing house with the mission of bridging the gap between the East and the West through book translation. I was invited to sign my second book of poetry at the Library of Congress, where I was also honored to give a presentation entitled “Promoting Arab Culture through Translation.”

I hope and believe that my long experience as a linguist, including my duties as the president and chief executive officer of Translation4all, Inc., as the past president of the Northwest Translators and Interpreters Society, as an ATA director and ALD administrator, and as a humble poet, enables me to make decisions with a perspective few people will ever be privileged to have.

If I am elected again, my primary goals as a director will be:

  1. Promoting ATA and Increasing Membership: I’d like to work on our public relations initiatives to educate our clients about the importance of using qualified ATA members as translators and interpreters.
  2. Working with the Certification Committee: I’d like to help bring ATA into the 21st century by helping with the keyboarded exam. I worked with my team at Translation4all, Inc. to develop an online tool where we can help translators take translation courses and mock tests to develop their skills with the assistance of instructors and qualified translators. I will be more than happy to offer this tool to the Certification Committee.
  3. Working Closely with ATA’s Literary Division: I’d like to share my experience as a publisher and literary translator to increase our members’ chances of getting their translated work published.
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