ATA Introduces Six New Awards at ATA61!

ATA introduced six new awards this year to recognize excellence in the Association and our professions. The recipients were honored during an all-new awards presentation ceremony following the Annual Meeting of All Members.

Advocacy Award

Lorena Ortiz Schneider

Lorena Ortiz Schneider is the recipient of the 2020 ATA Advocacy Award, which recognizes a person or entity that has demonstrated outstanding advocacy for the language professions in general, for the importance of professional translators and interpreters, and/or for the greater societal understanding of the value of professional translators and interpreters.

Lorena’s initiative and legislative advocacy on behalf of independent translators and interpreters in response to California Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), a California law that misclassified all translators and interpreters as employees, is inspiring. She galvanized the translator and interpreter community throughout California and beyond to raise awareness of the threats to the industry posed by AB 5 as it was on its way toward passage by the California legislature and became law in early 2020. She is the founder and lead advocate of the Coalition of Practicing Interpreters and Translators of California (CoPTIC), a hub for coordinating legislative advocacy activities around AB 5 and subsequent amendments thereto. Lorena’s efforts on behalf of CoPTIC helped the organization earn an exemption for translators and interpreters from AB 5.

Lorena has greatly increased the visibility and elevated the profile of our profession in the public consciousness. Thanks to her efforts, no legislator or legislative aide in the California Assembly or Senate is unaware of CoPTIC or ATA or the important role translators and interpreters play in California. Awareness and understanding are the first steps toward correcting misperceptions, and for this, ATA and its members owe a great debt of gratitude to the movement that Lorena has spearheaded.

Lorena is an ATA-certified Spanish>English translator, an ATA credentialed interpreter, and a California state-certified administrative hearing interpreter. She has worked for the U.S. Department of State as a liaison and seminar interpreter, as a conference interpreter for private industry, and as a community interpreter in mental health and workers’ compensation settings, at Social Security hearings, and for the California Employment Development Department and the Department of Motor Vehicles. She is also a licensed interpreter trainer.

Lorena served two terms as assistant administrator of ATA’s Interpreters Division and was recently appointed chair of ATA’s Advocacy Committee. She also served on the board of the California Workers’ Compensation Interpreters Association effecting legislative changes that provided for improved working conditions and remuneration for California interpreters.

Dynamo Award

Zenab Khouder

Zenab Khouder is the recipient of the 2020 ATA Dynamo Award, which recognizes a person or entity that has worked in a particularly energetic way to benefit ATA and/or the language professions.

Zenab’s enthusiasm for teaching has benefitted ATA and its Arabic Language Division (ALD). She has demonstrated the spirit of helping others by sharing the knowledge and expertise she has gained in her career. By doing so, she has empowered many of her fellow interpreters. She started a weekly meeting with ALD members via Zoom, where language experts discuss various issues pertinent to translators and interpreters. She also created a YouTube channel where she posts the sessions.

Seeing the great need for interpreter training, Zenab began as a coach and trainer over 10 years ago. She has also volunteered her services in the community. When the pandemic hit, Zenab saw the situation as an opportunity. She put her passion for language and interpreting to good use by starting virtual interpreter training sessions to help others continue to achieve their goals. In 2020, Zenab was named Interpreter of the Year by the California Healthcare Interpreting Association.

Zenab is a state-certified Arabic court interpreter for the Illinois and Arizona Supreme Courts. She has experience in international communications, translation, interpreting, and teaching. She earned a degree in agriculture from the Faculty of Agriculture in Syria before moving to the U.S. in 1990. She has worked as a language teacher and an English coordinator both in the U.S. and Syria.

Impact Award

Lorena Ortiz Schneider

Lorena Ortiz Schneider is the recipient of ATA’s Impact Award, which recognizes a person or entity that has demonstrated outstanding leadership having an impact with ATA through work on a specific project or initiative.

Lorena is an ATA-certified Spanish>English translator, an ATA credentialed interpreter, and a California state-certified administrative hearing interpreter. She has worked for the U.S. Department of State as a liaison and seminar interpreter, as a conference interpreter for private industry, and as a community interpreter in mental health and workers’ compensation settings, at Social Security hearings, and for the California Employment Development Department and the Department of Motor Vehicles. She is also a licensed interpreter trainer.

Lorena served two terms as assistant administrator of ATA’s Interpreters Division and was recently appointed chair of ATA’s Advocacy Committee. She also served on the board of the California Workers’ Compensation Interpreters Association effecting legislative changes that provided for improved working conditions and remuneration for California interpreters.

Lorena is also the founder and lead advocate of the Coalition of Practicing Interpreters and Translators of California (CoPTIC), an organization that helped earn an exemption from California Assembly Bill 5, a California law that misclassified all translators and interpreters as employees in January 2020. Lorena, with ATA’s support, worked tirelessly to help translators and interpreters throughout the state find their voice and educate their elected officials, holding them accountable for representing the interests of all translators and interpreters as well as the interests of their limited-English-proficient constituents. With Lorena’s guidance, the original legislation was revised through countless meetings and letter writing efforts.

Lorena’s work made a difference and we all owe her a debt of gratitude. She has helped raise awareness of how vital the translation and interpreting professions are to Californians and California’s economy. Lorena is undoubtedly deserving of the first ATA Impact Award.

Innovation Award

Barry Slaughter Olsen

Barry Slaughter Olsen is the recipient of the 2020 ATA Innovation Award, which recognizes a person or entity that has worked in a particularly innovative way to benefit ATA and/or the language professions.

Barry is a conference interpreter with over 25 years of experience. He combines professional expertise and innovative approaches to interpreter education, advocacy for interpreting, and entrepreneurship.

Barry has taught in the Russian and Spanish interpreting programs at his alma mater, the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, since 2007. He has co-taught the practicum in interpreting, developed techniques for teaching interpreting remotely, and designed and taught a course on remote interpreting technology. During the pandemic, he has shared his expertise on integrating new technology into tried and true pedagogical approaches with students and colleagues alike.

Barry is an advocate for cooperation among academia, professional and industry associations, and interpreters in all fields. As co-president of InterpretAmerica (2009–2020), he co-produced conferences, webinars, virtual events, and publications, as well as provided consultancy and advocacy.

As an entrepreneur, Barry helped develop one of the first platforms for remote simultaneous interpreting and was awarded two patents as co-inventor of ZipDX. An active member of the International Association of Conference Interpreters, he has interpreted for the G20, the World Economic Forum, U.S. Department of State, Inter-American Development Bank, Organization of American States, and many other public and private sector clients. In 2020, Barry joined KUDO, a multilingual web conferencing platform, as vice president of client success.

As a visionary and innovator, Barry is focused on the future and the growing effects of technology on the interpreting profession. From 2016 to 2020, he wrote and produced a monthly blog and video series called The Tech-Savvy Interpreter examining specific technologies and trends that are changing the way interpreters work. He is a highly sought-after speaker on multilingual communication and technology, and has been interviewed by CNN, CBC, MSNBC, NPR, and PBS. His co-presentations for TEDxMonterey and Wired have become go-to resources for explaining what’s involved in being a professional interpreter.

Barry’s innovative force in a number of areas and ability to explain professional interpreting to a larger segment of the general public make him a natural choice for ATA’s first Innovation Award.

Mentoring Award

Susanne van Eyl

Susanne van Eyl is the recipient of the 2020 ATA Mentoring Award, which recognizes a person or entity that has provided outstanding mentoring to the next generation of translators and interpreters, either through ATA’s Mentoring Program or another channel.

Susanne is an ATA-certified English>German translator specializing in legal and business texts. She is also a certified paralegal with over 20 years of translation experience and the owner of van Eyl, Inc. She has always been eager to share her experience with others and encourage them on their professional path, most notably with her work as chair of ATA’s Mentoring Program.

Susanne is well-known for the considerable amount of time and effort she has dedicated to ATA’s Mentoring Program, providing translators and interpreters with opportunities to connect with and guide one another. Translators and interpreters benefit from the advice of experienced practitioners like Susanne and from opportunities to develop a sense of professional camaraderie. The exchange of advice and ideas between mentors and mentees participating in ATA’s Mentoring Program ultimately contributes to the professionalization that ATA encourages from its members.

Over the past decade, Susanne has proven instrumental in revamping ATA’s Mentoring Program. Susanne’s close involvement since taking charge in 2010/2011 has led to her name becoming practically synonymous with the program—a testament to her dedication to translator and interpreter mentoring within ATA.

In light of Susanne’s contributions to ATA’s Mentoring Program, it’s only fitting that she be formally recognized for her successful efforts to provide translator and interpreter mentees with structured access to the advice and guidance of experienced professionals.

Rising Star Award

Beth Smith

Beth Smith is the recipient of the 2020 ATA Rising Star Award, which recognizes an early-career translator, interpreter, or entity that has already “made a mark” on ATA and is seen as having great potential to positively impact ATA and the language professions in the future.

Beth is the assistant administrator of ATA’s French Language Division and serves on the Divisions Committee. She frequently gives back to the translation community by advising newbies and sharing her hard-earned knowledge with anyone considering translation as a career. Despite her relative newness to the industry, she has rapidly come to the attention of career veterans, not only for her translation prowess, critical thinking, and creative solutions, but also for her down-to-earth demeanor, quick wit, and can-do attitude. She is a role model to translators new and old, and we look forward to her impact on the Association and the broader profession in the years to come.

Beth has a master’s degree in French language and literature from the State University of New York at Binghamton. After graduation, she held a variety of jobs (including teaching English for a year at the Université Lumière Lyon 2) before teaching French for 12 years for the Conroe Independent School District in The Woodlands, Texas.

She slowly transitioned from being a teacher to a full-time translator, completing a certificate in French>English translation at New York University. She also joined ATA and earned her certification (French>English). She specializes in advertising and marketing, transcreation, entertainment (e.g., music journalism, TV scripts, TV show treatments, and film proposals), and literary translation. Her translation (with Lynn Palermo) of L’Essence des ténèbres (The Essence of Darkness), a thriller novel by Tom Clearlake, was published in April 2020 by Moonlight Publishing.

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