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Meet the Board

The Upper Midwest Translators and Interpreters Association (UMTIA) is run completely by volunteers who contribute many hours of time and effort while serving on the executive board. The Executive Board is in charge of the governance, finances and decision making regarding the direction of the organization.

The Executive Board consists of up to twelve members who serve two year terms. Each has a specific office to fulfill, such as secretary, or treasurer or membership director or member at large, while representing the best interests of UMTIA members and running the association.

On this page, you can find out more about the members that make up the leadership team. Members are welcome to join the Executive Board for their monthly meeting. If you’d like to attend, please email info@umtia.org.

 

Elisa Gustafson, President, 2016-2017 Term

Elisa Gustafson

Elisa Gustafson

Elisa Gustafson is a native of Argentina, where she completed a degree in agronomy. She is a CCHI certified medical interpreter, ATA certified translator and conference interpreter. She’s been on the UMTIA board since 2007, as membership director, member at large and most recently as secretary. She’s also chair of the Medical Interpreting Committee.

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Why I joined UMTIA

When I arrived in the USA in 2001 and started a whole new career, I benefited from the events that UMTIA organized. It was a brand new organization in 2002. The conferences and workshops introduced me to other colleagues, and also to the issues that the profession was dealing with. And it seemed to me that joining a professional association was also important for my professional development here.

Why I’m on the UMTIA Board

When I started working as an interpreter here in the USA in 2001, the field was totally unregulated and there was no system to verify use of interpreters or training of interpreters or quality of the interpretation. Much has been accomplished since that time thanks to the efforts of many people in many different fields, but there is still much to be done. I feel that UMTIA is a way in which I can contribute to improving the field for all of us, interpreters, translators and clients.

And on a more selfish level, UMTIA allows me to use skills that I can’t apply in other areas of my work. It allows me opportunities to interact with other people that are involved in this field. It allows me to be “where the action is”.

 

Claudia Giannini, Vice President, 2017-2018 Term

Claudia Giannini

Claudia Giannini

Claudia has an undergraduate degree in Translation and Interpreting and a graduate degree in Hispanic Linguistics. She has more than two decades of experience working as a translator and college instructor. She currently teaches translation courses at the University of Minnesota and Spanish and Hispanic culture at Macalester College. Claudia held several positions in UMTIA’s Board between 2007 and 2012, when she had to resign for personal reasons.

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Why I joined UMTIA

I joined UMTIA as soon as I found out it existed — I know that an association like this one can contribute to the professional life of each and every translator and interpreter. The more members we have, the stronger we’ll be and the easier it will be to implement positive changes for all.  After a few years of being a member, I decided to join the Board, not only because I am interested in the work UMTIA does, but also because I am keenly aware that previous Board members have worked very hard for UMTIA to become a reality and I felt a responsibility for the association. I encourage all professional interpreters and translators in our area to consider becoming part of our Board or one of our committees at some point in their careers, as this is one of the most effective ways of improving our professions.

 

David Coats, Treasurer, 2017-2018 Term

David Coats

David Coats

David Coats has been a freelance translator since 1986, and is ATA-certified for German into English. Now retired from the field of psychotherapy, he worked for 37 years as a psychotherapist in public and private practice; including 18 years as a Social Worker in the field of civil commitments, working closely with the Probate Court and the medical system. Prior to obtaining his Master’s in Social Work, he studied engineering and sociology. He specializes in translation of highly technical material and patents, as well as medical and legal material.

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Why I joined UMTIA

I had been a member of UMTIA since its creation. At the 2008 annual meeting, nobody was a candidate for the position of Treasurer. I am quite detail-oriented, and felt that I could do the job, as I had used QuickBooks for our own translation business, and believed it would be applicable to UMTIA’s bookkeeping needs. I thus volunteered for the position, and have been doing it ever since. 

 

Mohamud Aden, Membership Director, 2016-2017 Term

Mohamud Aden

Mohamud Aden

Mohamud Aden has been working as a generalist Somali interpreter/translator for over 15 years, both as staff and a freelancer. Currently he is a casual translator and interpreter for Hopkins and Saint Paul Public Schools. Some of his regular clients include Minnesota Translation Lab and the Nat’l Foreign Language Center where he is a contracted Somali language subject matter expert/consultant. He works as a teaching specialist/grader for the Translation & Interpreting (TRIN) program at the University of Minnesota, and he is also adjunct faculty for the TRIN Department at Century College. He graduated from the U of M TRIN Certificate Program and holds an MA in Literacy Education in addition to an undergrad degree and certificates.

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Why I joined UMTIA

I have been an active UMTIA member since 2004, both as a normal member and as an executive board member. The reason I joined UMTIA was both accidental and intentional. Accidental, because one of the faculty members at the U of M Translation and Interpreting Program invited me to join. But also intentional, because as I graduated from the TRIN Program in 2003, I knew that I needed to have a professional network to rely on in order to find employment opportunities and to advance my TRIN skills. As I was coming to the workshops and conferences for a few years, I was inspired by the voluntary work that the board and event volunteers had been doing. I asked myself why was I a free rider? I eventually felt guilty not to join the board and not to contribute, so, I became a board member in February 2011 and served two different positions so far. Looking back all these years now, I don’t regret one second about my involvement. I believe the board duties offer a lot of learning opportunities, insights and deep knowledge about the TRIN profession in general.

 

Aida Azzazi, Secretary, 2017-2018 Term

Aida Azzazi

Aida Azzazi

Aida Azzazi has worked as an interpreter in education for thirteen years in Minneapolis and two years in Robbinsdale. She is a full time Spanish Interpreter/Translator for the Minneapolis Public Schools District in the Special Education English Language Learners Department. She services 20 schools that range from public schools, private schools, elementary schools, middle schools and high schools. She is a recent UMTIA scholarship recipient and will complete the Program in Translation and Interpreting at the University of Minnesota-Medical track in 2017.  In addition, she holds a BFA in Design from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design.

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Why I joined UMTIA

I joined the UMTIA board because I want to continue to learn and grow as an Interpreter/Translator. I admire the work that UMTIA does and enjoy meeting and connecting with others in the field to nurture and build a sense of community.

 

Kristen Mages, Media Manager, 2016-2017 Term

Kristen Mages

Kristen Mages

Kristen Mages has a degree in Spanish and Communications and began interpreting as a volunteer for St. Mary’s Clinics while in college. After spending a couple of years in the Dominican Republic, she began freelance interpreting in the Twin Cities in 2013. Since then, she has completed the Translation and Interpretation Certificate at Century College and become a CMI certified medical interpreter. She currently works as a staff interpreter at Hennepin County Medical Center.

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Why I joined UMTIA

My reasons for joining UMTIA are multiple! First of all, I really value volunteer work. I know that volunteers make our communities stronger and accomplish a lot that wouldn’t otherwise be accomplished. When we’re given opportunities such as an education or special skills, I think it’s important to pay it forward by giving back to others. Secondly, I truly believe in UMTIA’s mission to improve the quality of interpreting and translating in the Midwest. At times, I get frustrated with certain areas of our profession that need improvement. I can do my part to improve myself or my work space, but I recognize that true change takes time and needs to happen on a larger level. I know education is key to change, which is why I enjoy organizing and attending UMTIA workshops. Finally, there are many excellent interpreters and translators involved with UMTIA. As an interpreter who is in the beginning stages of her career, I know I can learn a lot from the experiences of my colleagues. It’s an added bonus that these people are also fun to be around!

 

 

Isabel Montañez, Committee Liaison, 2017-2018 Term

Isabel Montañez

Isabel Montañez

Isabel Montanez is from Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico. She graduated from the Interpreting/Translation Program University of Minnesota in 2009. She joined UMTIA right after graduation and became a member of the Executive Board. Isabel worked as a Medical Lab Technician for 20 years and was a freelancer with several interpreting agencies. In 2012, Isabel joined the Hennepin County Medical Center Interpreting Team full-time. Isabel continues serving the interpreting profession with UMTIA and hopes to make every interpreter part of UMTIA.

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Why I Joined UMTIA

When I was taking my courses at the University of Minnesota for the interpreting certificate, I had an outstanding instructor, and she talked about being a member of UMTIA. She told me it was a great way to get to know other professionals, and it would give me an opportunity to expand my education. She was the reason I became a member. UMTIA is the only organization for interpreters in the Midwest. I’m very satisfied with UMTIA mainly because it’s all about continuing education.

Why I Joined the Board

In 2010 I was involved with UMTIA’s conference and I had firsthand knowledge of what it takes to put together a very important event for our profession. I learned that there is so much to give of myself to make my profession a full success. I accepted the opportunity to join the Board. It has been an outstanding experience, and most of all, I have met marvelous professionals.

 

Ana Locke, Member-at-Large, 2016-2017 Term

Ana Locke

Ana Locke

Ana Locke is a native of Colombia where she completed her degree in veterinary medicine and zoo technics. She finished her medical interpreter and translation certificate at the University of Minnesota in 2011. She currently works at HCMC hospital and lives in Roseville, MN, with husband, Jon, son, Luis, and cat, “Kitty”.

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Why I joined UMTIA

I love to be part of the Board because it allows me the opportunity to participate and know first hand everything related with the world of interpreters, not just in Minnesota, but also in the rest of the country. Just recently I had the opportunity to meet wonderful people at the CHIA Annual Conference in California. I would not have had this opportunity if it wasn’t for UMTIA. Being part of the Board brings new knowledge and skills otherwise very difficult to get. 

 

Catherine Gonzalez-Klang, Member-at-Large, 2016-2017 Term

Catherine Gonzalez-Klang

Catherine Gonzalez-Klang

Catherine Gonzalez-Klang is a Spanish interpreter and translator.  She has been working in the field for ten years with experience in business, legal, community, medical and educational settings.  She currently works at HCMC as a lead interpreter, Regions Hospital/Health Partners as an on-call interpreter and as a freelance translator.  Catherine graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and a minor in Chicano Studies from the University of Minnesota in 2009.  In addition, she obtained a Certificate of Interpreting from the University of Minnesota in 2010 and became a Certified Medical Interpreter (CMI) in 2014.

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Why I joined UMTIA

I joined UMTIA because I thought that it was a great way to be connected to the interpreting and translating community in the Twin Cities. Interpreting is and was an emerging field that is still in the process of professionalization and UMTIA provides many assets to help us move forward. UMTIA is a wonderful source for workshops, learning materials, translating and interpreting courses, volunteer and employment opportunities. Without UMTIA it would be a lot more difficult for me to have opportunities to attend continuing education workshops because in Minnesota there simply isn’t any other organization that compares to it. I’m very grateful to have the access to all these resources and also the pleasure of meeting so many other dedicated individuals

Why I’m on the UMTIA Board

I joined the Board because it was a goal I had for a few years. I’m so happy to serve on the Board this term because it’s a way that I can give back to the community. I admire and appreciate all the work my predecessors have put forth and hope I’m able to follow in their footsteps.

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Mohammed R. Al-Azzawi, Member-at-Large, 2016-2017 Term

Mohammed R. Al-Azzawi

Mohammed R. Al-Azzawi

Mohammed Raef Al Azzawi is a Civil Engineer Consultant, has a Master’s degree in project Management and a bachelor of science in civil engineering from the University of Technology in Baghdad. He has collaborated with the World Bank (WB) and the International Development Association (IDA) as a project manager, as a procurement officer and as a trainer and person in charge of the ON-THE-JOB programs according to the WB and IDA regulations, procedures and requirements in his home country of Iraq. Since he relocated to Minnesota, he has been involved in freelance interpreting, including working at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester in the International office-languages services.

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Why I joined UMTIA

I joined UMTIA in 2015 because I do believe that the organization will play active and potential roles in upgrading translators and interpreters.

 

Vivi Szleifer, Member-at-Large, 2017-2018 Term

Viviana Szleifer

Viviana Szleifer

Vivi Szleifer was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has traveled extensively in South America, Europe and the Middle East, and lived in Israel for four years. As a result of her exposure to different cultures, languages and diverse experiences, not only because of her travels, but also from her training and experience as a certified interpreter, Vivi felt inspired to share her own passion for travel, art, diversity and multicultural sensitivity with others. Vivi designs and organizes theme international travel to Buenos Aires, Israel and Spain, only the very places from where she, herself, has firsthand experience and personal knowledge. She creates “hand crafted” experiences for selected small groups and individuals.

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Why I joined UMTIA

UMTIA provided support and valuable training for me when I started as a freelance interpreter over 10 years ago, but most important it introduced me to the “interpreting” community in MN for which I am grateful.

 

Deqa Mohamed, Member-at-Large, 2017-2018 Term

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Why I joined UMTIA

 

 

 


For a list of previous board members, see our Board Member History.

 

 

 

Ideas about membership?

Do you have thoughts about how membership could be improved? We want to know.

Please email us at memdir@umtia.org.

Minutes & Agendas

Keep track of the work the executive committee is doing on your behalf. Read past meeting minutes and agendas. You may also download our bylaws and policies (PDF).

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