Of Oatmeal and Legacies

From the President

Caitlin Walsh

I often start my columns with a few personal notes, and this last column as your president is no exception. The past year has been an exercise in letting go, with personal and professional milestones and passages being marked at an alarming rate. In each instance, I take time to remind myself that it is a process, not a moment.

One vital step in the process is taking stock. When I stood before the membership four short years ago, I shared an admittedly ambitious vision: ATA as an umbrella organization that embraces the diversity inherent in our industry, and a place where a culture of professionalism pervades everything we do. My ambition was to make my legacy more than just oatmeal on the breakfast buffet.

I envisioned a certification exam that candidates completed in their own offices. We are not there—yet—but the wheels are in motion, with the Board authorizing testing of a secure online system that shows great promise.

I pictured an association that welcomes all, and spent a great deal of time learning about and connecting with our interpreter colleagues in particular. I have emerged more convinced than ever that we can both benefit a great deal from each other, and am encouraged by the progress we have made to welcome and provide professional parity to our “speaking” colleagues in terms of providing simplified access to voting, as well as the CI—credentialed interpreter—marker of professionalism in our online directory.

Along the way, it became clear that some things were not as important as I imagined, and other issues emerged that were clearly higher priority. I had shared a vision of international recognition of our Certification Program, but the Board quite rightly felt that there was more benefit to diverting our resources and energies into re-establishing a sustainable public relations program, revamping our flagship publication, and systematically adjusting budgetary structures to poise ATA for its next round of growth. Volunteer-driven initiatives quite rightly drive much of the agenda.

It is not a platitude to say that I am incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to serve this Association alongside such remarkable colleagues, and have no doubt that future Boards will build on the tradition of advancing our profession in a dynamic fashion.

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