An Ending and a Beginning

By the time this issue of The ATA Chronicle reaches you, I’ll have moved on to an entirely new role as a past president of ATA. After serving for seven years on ATA’s Board—three years as director, two years as president-elect, and two years as president—my term ends at ATA’s Annual Conference in Palm Springs, where I’ll leave you in the highly capable hands of Ted Wozniak and the 2019–2020 Board.

To me, the best chapters in life are those that—when they’re about to conclude—make you think, “I would do it again in a second, and I’m ready to move on to a new chapter.” That’s exactly how I feel about my years on the Board and my time as president. Without a doubt, these have been the most enriching seven years of my professional life, and also the most demanding. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about ATA, and hopefully I’ve contributed to some positive changes in ATA. I have a long list of my own goals that I’m ready to pursue, but I know ATA will surely benefit from a set of fresh eyes on the Association’s goals and challenges. With that, here are a few parting thoughts on what ATA has achieved in recent years, and where we can continue to do better.

  • Without a doubt, ATA’s Annual Conference remains the must-attend event for translators and interpreters in the U.S., and even those who travel internationally to attend. The Annual Conference continues to receive rave reviews from attendees—90%+ consistently say that they are glad they attended—and the number and quality of the proposals we receive continues to increase every year. This year, as in past years, we accepted fewer than 50% of the proposals we received, and the conference is on track to exceed our financial projections. At the same time, we hear from ATA members who are being priced out of the conference and can’t afford to attend, or can’t come every year. While the Board feels that our conference is attractively priced and well worth the investment, the “total cost of attendance” (registration, airfare, hotel, food, ground transportation, side events, etc.) is significant. Attendance at the Annual Conference remains strong, but we also need to continue offering webinars, one-day conferences, and other professional development events at a variety of price ranges.
  • Over the past several years, the Board has made a significant commitment to soliciting and considering input from members. We’ve implemented a process of asking for members’ feedback (via our division and chapter listserves, social media posts, etc.) ahead of every Board meeting. Every comment is posted on a flip chart for Board members to read, and is then logged in a spreadsheet that we track over time. The Board also created the ataTalk listserve, where concerned members can discuss ATA governance issues. We’ve become much more active on social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and even Pinterest. We also launched The ATA Podcast (shoutout to our amazing host Matt Baird!) to make sure we have a full range of ways to communicate with members. At the same time, as we’ve seen during the current controversy over whether ATA certification exams should be opened to nonmembers of ATA, we still have members who feel that they are not informed about key ATA decisions, or that their voices are not heard or considered. We need to look at this from both angles: how to continue to keep members informed, and how to solicit and consider members’ feedback.

These are areas in which ATA has made great progress, but there is still further to go. ATA is in excellent hands with the next leadership team. I thank you for the trust you’ve placed in me when I was elected, and I wish all of you—and ATA—every success in the years to come.

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