Working to Enhance the Value of ATA

From the President

David Rumsey
Twitter handle: @davidcrumsey

They say there are two seasons in the Pacific Northwest: the raining season and the staining season. For roughly six to seven months of the year there’s a steady supply of the former. Yet, there are a few precious months in the spring and summer when the rain stays away long enough for those of us with wooden houses to slap a coat of waterproof stain on our four walls before the rains return.

Part of the challenge with ATA Board work is that your to-do list is always much longer than the available time and resources. As a past ATA President once remarked to me, serving on the Board is like walking down the hallway of a house. As you pass through, you have the chance to hang a new picture or fix a light fixture before you have to leave it to the next group.

Fortunately, we entered the hallway this year in a much better financial position than in previous years. At each meeting, the Board carefully considers our finances and our desire to offer affordable programs to our members, while maintaining a healthy “rainy day” fund and investing in the Association’s future. Over the past few years, by streamlining expenses in areas such as The ATA Chronicle and boosting revenues from ATA’s Annual Conference, we were able to eliminate our equity deficit and return to a healthy financial situation. Much of the January and April Board meetings were devoted to considering a number of prudent projects to enhance the value and secure the future of ATA.

One of the key improvements that the Board decided to invest in this year is ATA’s website. The website acts like the front door to the Association. It’s often the first impression that potential members and the public have of ATA. So, after four years since the last update, the Board decided it’s time to redesign the site with a more contemporary look and improve the ease of use and access to information. Similar to the revamp of The ATA Chronicle, a special committee has been appointed who will be drawing up a list of suggested “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” and begin working with a newly appointed and dedicated website manager at ATA Headquarters to restructure the site.

In addition to the website, the Board recognized the importance and growing demand for professional development opportunities among the membership. This program has been revitalized in recent years with a steady stream of webinars covering a range of topics on translation, interpreting, technology, and general business skills. To expand these offerings, ATA has invested a dedicated professional development manager on staff who can help coordinate additional courses and mini-conferences, both online and in person. We anticipate expansion of the Professional Development Program to begin after the Annual Conference.

Public Relations is another program that underwent major investment and growth in recent years. The program has grown to a committee of almost a dozen people, including speakers at a number of industry events and a team of four members working exclusively on articles for trade publications. The return on our investment in a public relations firm has been excellent in terms of the number of article placements in industry press that target the actual buyers of translation and interpreting services. Nevertheless, as any public relations agent will tell you, there’s no such thing as spending “too much money” on public relations, and ATA’s Public Relations Committee is always carefully considering new investments in the program.

The wish list for additional investments never ends, and figuring out which investments are wise under the circumstances is a delicate task for any Board. Generating revenue is easy to agree on, but deciding how to spend it is where the real debate begins. Although many of the plans and programs that the Board has discussed and invested in may not come to full fruition until after my term, I’m grateful for the opportunity to add an additional coat of stain to the solid, welcoming home that is ATA.

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