From the President: The Vital Work of ATA Committees

From the President
Ted R. Wozniak

If ATA divisions are our members’ “home within a home”—the place they go to be with other “family members” who work in the same fields and language pairs—then ATA committees could be considered their “offices”—the place they go to work on behalf of ATA.

ATA has 18 standing committees with 163 member volunteers who work on a wide range of issues of importance to the Association and its members. Standing committees are “permanent” because they have indefinite lives. In contrast, special committees are temporary in nature and automatically cease to exist when their task is completed and a final report is issued.

Five of the 18 committees are mandated by ATA’s Bylaws: the Executive, Finance and Audit, Ethics, Membership, and Nominating and Leadership Development Committees. As is evident from their names, these committees are responsible for issues that are common to most associations.

As can be expected in an association of ATA’s size and scope, the vitality and activity of specific committees can ebb and flow over time due to internal and external changes. The pandemic has undoubtedly been one such change. It has not only changed how committees work (e.g., online video meetings), but driven some committees to take on new tasks.

Here’s a brief recap of some of the vital work done by just a few of ATA’s committees.

Certification: One significant example of a pandemic-driven change is the Certification Committee’s initiative to provide online remote certification exams, which will have a major and permanent impact on the Association. The committee is currently testing a remote delivery system and hopes to conduct its first remote exam sitting before the end of the year. If successful, this will greatly expand the availability of certification exams as candidates will no longer have to travel and incur additional expenses to take the exam.

Advocacy: The Advocacy Committee has worked diligently, often under very tight deadlines, to advocate for safe working conditions for in-person interpreters during the pandemic and for early access to vaccinations. It has also continued to advocate for the proper classification of professional practitioners of translation and interpretation as independent contractors where appropriate.

Business Practices: The Business Practices Education Committee was recently restructured by bringing the former Mentoring Committee and the Savvy Newcomers initiative under its umbrella. It has also started a Mastermind program to provide in-depth business education to ATA members. The committee held its first virtual Brainstorm Networking meeting on March 31, which attracted over 200 registrants and 100 live participants. The committee is also working to meet the needs of more experienced members by launching a new blog for advanced practitioners called Next Level: The ATA Business Practices Blog, which is ready to be launched on ATA’s new website. The committee has worked closely with the Membership Committee on many of these initiatives, which is just one example of the increased cooperation and communication between committees that has resulted in increased mission accomplishment, better communication of offerings, and more valuable benefits to members.

Membership: The Membership Committee has also been very active in fulfilling its mission of recruiting and retaining members. The committee recently completed a new e-book, the ATA Guide to Starting Out as a Translator, and planning has begun on a companion volume for interpreters. The committee is continuing its work on a membership survey, which will also include questions to obtain diversity data that will allow us to better serve the entire membership. Other new “products” from the committee include a new video on the reasons for joining ATA aimed at recruiting new members. Those new members are now being offered member orientation sessions and instructional videos on member benefits, both of which should increase member satisfaction during their first few years in ATA. These initiatives should also help improve our retention rate.

I don’t have sufficient space to report on all the activities of every committee carried out by all the volunteers who work so hard on behalf of the Association. The majority of members may not even be aware of some committees like the Chapters Committee or the Interpretation Policy Advisory Committee, as the nature of their missions is not member-focused. But I can assure you that these unheralded committees also play a vital role in ATA’s mission of being “The Voice of Interpreters and Translators.” Visit the committee page on the website ( to learn more about the work of our various committees. And consider volunteering for a committee as part of your contribution back to your community and your fellow translators and interpreters.

Speaking of the new website…

I would like to thank the members of the Ad Hoc Website Committee, who put in countless hours working on the site’s redesign, a task that was made even more difficult by the abrupt departure of the original website redesign company. The new website is visually appealing, much more user-friendly, and has been exceptionally well received by the membership. So, special thanks to Karen Tkaczyk (chair), Jamie Hartz, Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo, Catherine Christaki, and Michèle Hansen, as well as the unheralded committee and division members who had to review thousands of pages of content (literally!). And my extra special thanks to Teresa Kelly, our website manager and graphic designer at ATA Headquarters, who was the central point of contact (and the recipient of all the complaints) during this long project.

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