NAJIT Annual Elections

2018 Board of Directors 

The nominees for the Board of Directors are listed below. Click on each name to read the candidate’s statement and brief biography.

The terms of current Chair Gladys Matthews and Secretary Ernest Niño-Murcia expire on June 9, 2018. Neither of them will seek reelection to the Board. Additionally, per NAJIT bylaws the two Interim Director seats will also be open. NAJIT will be holding an election for four board members.

Ask the candidates…

Here is your opportunity to pose questions to the candidates. Click the question mark on the right to email your question. Your question will be received by headquarters and forwarded to ALL candidates, giving everyone an opportunity to respond. Responses will be posted on this page once received.

Hebba Abulsaad

Bio

Candidate Statement

Diana Arbiser

Bio

Candidate Statement

Aimee Benavides, NAJIT Interim Director

Bio

Candidate Statement

Armando Ezquerra Hasbun

Bio

Candidate Statement

Barbara Hua Robinson

Bio

Candidate Statement

Roxane King

Bio

Candidate Statement

Claudia Rubio Samulowitz

Bio

Candidate Statement

Teresa Salazar

Bio

Candidate Statement

Holly Silvestri

Bio

Candidate Statement

(Click the mouse picture above to cast your vote)

NAJIT Board elections will be handled exclusively via electronic and mail proxies in 2018. There will be no voting at the Annual Meeting. This is your only option to vote for the Board of Directors.

By participating in the electronic voting process you are providing your proxy instructions to the Secretary of NAJIT to be executed on the day before the annual Meeting, June 9, 2018. If you prefer, you can send a ballot by mail. You must provide your member (account) number on the ballot. Please note, once you select the mail ballot option you will not be able to vote electronically. Mail in ballots must be received by June 1, 2018.

NAJIT will be accepting electronic ballot proxies until June 8, 2017. You must be an Active or Life member of NAJIT to vote. All votes are assigned a control number and your ballot or ballot proxy will remain anonymous. NAJIT will keep a record of who has voted and who has not. You may only vote once. If you encounter any difficulty in voting, please contact NAJIT at 404-566-4705 or via email at admin@najit.org.

Questions posed to the candidates:

Question #1: Could you please provide one or two concrete examples of initiatives that you plan to introduce or support in your first year on the Board?

Hebba Abulsaad: 1st Initiative: Establish partnerships with organizations that regularly use interpreters – and those who potentially might need them – to inform and educate them about the legal requirements to use qualified and/or certified interpreters for legal cases inside and outside the Court. As a language other than Spanish interpreter, I am aware that, for example, Arabic-speaking populations that immigrate to the USA have a requirement to learn English over time in order to function in an English speaking world. In my 28+ years as an interpreter (9+ of those as a legal interpreter), I have seen that there is a reluctance to use qualified/certified interpreters because native Arabic speakers have varying levels of mastery of the English language (more so than, for example, Spanish speakers) and there is an alleged notion that “they know and understand enough”. Educating and informing in a way that is mutually beneficial for all parties involved is my commitment to the arena of legal interpreting in all languages.

2nd Initiative: Spread the word amongst non-interpreter circles, such as conferences for worker’s comp organizations, insurance agencies, OSHA standards agencies, and the like, about what NAJIT is, its mission and role in the legal arena and community-at-large, to establish NAJIT as the go-to organization for judicial interpreting and translation matters in the US.

Diana Arbiser: I believe one of the main issues that NAJIT needs to address is the one of transparency. I would promote keeping the members informed and updated on a regular basis about the work that is being done by the Board and the administration, as well as the work performed in the various NAJIT committees. In this respect, I would also promote new ways of member outreach, in order to hear and deal with any particular concerns or suggestions.

I would also like to see NAJIT more involved in educational activities. My idea is to promote professional development classes, courses or webinars offered through NAJIT (and/or with its sponsorship), outside of the annual conference, throughout the year, especially focused on ethics, LOTS (Languages other than Spanish), and technology.

Additionally, I would also thrive to have more information shared about the work done in the SSTI (Society for the Study of Translation and Interpretation), and ways in which members can both contribute to and benefit from this Society’s efforts.

Aimee Benavides: One of the main initiatives that I have worked toward while serving as an interim board member and am committed to continuing is providing a steady stream of high quality webinar content for members at a reduced fee and when possible at no cost. The NAJIT academy will be presenting it’s first webinar before the conference and I have already contacted additional presenters with the objective of providing content especially for interpreters and translators of languages other than Spanish.

The subject of empowering interpreters and translators is very broad. I plan to accomplish this by: 1. Providing content on the website that is accessible to attorneys and speaks to their needs. 2. Improving the interpreter registry so that it is more useful for freelance interpreters and highlights their credentials 3. Using additional social media to highlight NAJIT as an authority for individuals who are interested in entering the field 4. Include more conference and webinar content that focuses on not only the skills of interpreting but also the business of interpreting and translating.

Barbara Hua Robinson: I have two ideas I would like to bring to board to work on:

1. Development of guidelines in ethics training for ICE/Immigration arrests/hearings under the current administration.

2. Enhancement of advocacy of using court certified interpreters in state courts, and certified/professionally qualified (other than Spanish, ASL and Navoj) interpreters in federal courts.

Roxane King: Thank you for your inquiry. If elected for the board I plan on continuing to support and reinforce all of the efforts and accomplishments that NAJIT has achieved throughout the years. Following in it’s footsteps and it’s lead, as the passion within us and together propels us to advance towards new goals and accomplishments. These are a few of many that come to mind that will be my main initiatives:

Webinars, trainings, profession and professional awareness and development for new coming interpreters and translators.
-Collaborating and uniting NAJIT even closer to stimulate the development  of institutional bonds with public entities and associations in defense of the translating and interpreting profession.
-Committed to advocating for the integrity and understanding of our specialized and demanding profession and how all of us as members of NAJIT can contribute towards issues such as the promotion of ethical practices in our field, compensation and professionalization.
-Regional chapters to gain more members, their support and participation.

Claudia Rubio Samulowitz: I am glad you asked. Upon accepting the nomination, I made a list of things I would like to work on, if elected as a member of the Board of Directors and one of them was thinking of strategic initiatives.

The beauty of strategic initiatives is that they have a start and a finish point and can be used to effectively promote an organization’s continuous growth and/or improvement. Two of the points I considered most important and easy to tackle quickly by the Board are:

1. Going over NAJIT’s Bylaws and Policies to make sure they are up to date (and if not, bring them up to date) and not only fulfilling our organization objectives, but aligned with its mission, vision and values.

2. Setting a Performance Expectations Policy that:
Focuses the Board’s efforts on the Organization’s growth and improvement;
Promotes complete transparency for the benefit of all our members and
Places the Organization’s interests above anyone’s self-interest, personal agenda or third-parties’ influence.

Teresa Salazar: My main concern with the situation that currently exists with NAJIT is the lack of effective communication between the membership and the organization. This has bred disillusionment and a certain degree of distrust among NAJIT members who are concerned about a lack of transparency in the operations of the organization. I would advocate for a new information policy whereby NAJIT would provide a monthly report for the membership disclosing the status of the organization’s projects and initiatives and any major expenditures, in an effort to arm the membership with factual information and prevent negative conjecturing resulting from being kept out of the loop. The report would be more detailed and uniform than the occasional letters from the chair which do mention NAJIT’s accomplishments, but in a more general way. It would provide a clearer picture of progress being made in the different areas or the hindrances encountered along the way.

I am also aware of the need to be familiar with all the policies and standards that affect the interpreting community and which allow interpreters to be better equipped to defend professional practices in the face of ignorance about the profession among those to whom we provide services and who are in positions of authority. One thing that I would work for is to establish an area in “Resources” where all the key documents pertaining to the profession and interpreting performance could easily be accessible to the membership in one place. Included would be the documents that are already in effect and those being drafted with information as to how members can actively participate in the sculpting of these rules and standards with updates on progress made or setbacks encountered. As can be gleaned, I take a global approach because I am a fierce believer that interpreting is one field with different specializations, and no one sector exists in a vacuum. What is damaging to any one sector of interpreting is damaging to us all, so that it behooves us to be aware of all that is happening to regulate the profession.

Holly Silvestri: The Bench and Bar Committee has a particular interest in educating judges, attorneys, and other legal professionals on the importance of using certified/qualified interpreters in the judiciary. This committee has already completed a training module for judges and lawyers, and the committee is planning on creating modules for training court administrators, court clerks, and other stakeholders in the legal community. (NAJIT website)

The above committee, of which I used to be a member, has a vital role in getting everyone on the same page regarding the use of certified or qualified interpreters in judicial settings. I plan to work hard to help this committee expand its training modules, so we can all be part of the necessary education that the public needs with as little effort on our part as possible.

I also hope to help expand the awareness of NAJIT amongst those who teach in T and I programs. I know from experience that students need this information from day one so they can also educate themselves as to what it means to be a professional in this field. I also know it is not necessarily provided to the students within many programs.

Question #2: In my mind, being a director of a board is akin to a political position where the candidate promises to represent his/her constituency, which means listening to the membership and act on their behalf: How do you plan to "listen" to NAJIT members?

Hebba Aboulsaad: I believe the main goal of board members is to serve an organization’s constituency. The way to do that is by first listening to the people in the profession and act on their behalf within the scope of the rules, regulations and by-laws set up by the organization and its membership. The beautiful thing about an organization like NAJIT is that all of us are on the same boat. What is good for one is good for all. For e.g., increasing awareness and knowledge about NAJIT benefits each and every one of us as well as NAJIT itself; educational initiatives like webinars, workshops and conferences are beneficial for each all members as well as for those who, even if they are not members (partners, potential members, etc.), participate and engage in the events.

As an interpreter active listening is a skill that I have honed and continue to hone daily. This same skill needs to be used to listen to the constituency. For me, active listening involves several steps: the listening itself (receiving the message being delivered), asking clarifying questions (to ensure accurate understanding), discussing potential solutions or initiative with the party who initiated the dialogue, committing to agreed upon action, and following up, following through and…yes, following up! For example, if a member reaches out to me or to a committee I am a part of, I would respond within a reasonable amount of time (usually email is my preferred way as my work schedule is very unpredictable) – that is, a few business days – acknowledging receipt and, depending on the case, setting up a time to have a brief discussion if warranted, asking clarifying questions and then bringing up the issue to the committee for discussion, informing the member when that committee discussion will take place. After the committee discusses, I would follow up with the member with a response, suggestion or ideas for solutions. If the issue does not need to be discussed in committee, I would still follow the steps detailed above to ensure the matter presented is addressed. I am big on accountability, and I am open to comments stating that I have not delivered in what I committed to. Sometimes, things might be beyond my control, but I commit to inform those reaching out to me when this is the case and point them in the right direction. Serving constituents is about consistency, honesty and walking the talk.

Diana Arbiser: I agree: listening to the members, understanding all concerns, and acting accordingly is the responsibility of all Board members. Communication channels should be reliable and easily accessible. We currently have the email listserve (which involves a public forum for all those who are subscribed), but the NAJIT website also has a “Contact NAJIT” option to submit any private messages or inquiries. Additionally, members could contact members of the Board individually, via email, to share specific questions or matters.

The members of the Board should monitor these resources regularly and thoroughly, and all inquiries should be taken seriously and diligently. Of course, action would depend on each individual request, but there has to be continuous, effective communication oriented to problem-resolution, both between the Board and the members, as well as within the Board.

Aimee Benavides: It is very important to listen to members’ concerns. As an interim director I have worked hard to create more opportunities for members to express their opinions and reach out to the board via social media. We have created additional ways for members to email the board directly using a suggestion box as well as making the individual board member email addresses available. I make sure that I am on the listserv so that as concerns are mentioned I can look into ways to resolve any problem even if I am not asked about it directly. I personally don’t want to wait until I am asked to do something, but rather by paying attention to concerns brought up either in online forums, at professional conferences, blogs, and other events I can be proactive in addressing concerns or suggesting policy changes where necessary.

For a professional organization charging membership dues, connecting, understanding and addressing members concerns are among the most important duties of NAJIT board. We also understand that all board members are busy working professionals with limited availability. Assuming we are going to have various committees under the board, I suggest:

1. Each committee produces a committee activity report prior to each board meeting, the report can be part of the meeting minutes that is available to all NAJIT members. This is an active way to inform, connect and engage NAJIT members and keep our organization transparent.

2. Each committee chair (board member) is a designated point of contact to answer members’ questions that fell into the committee’s scope of work. His/her contact info should be available to all NAJIT members. So the question can be asked directly.  Committee member can take turns answering questions.

3. NAJIT administrator or the president may act or designate any board member to be the point of contact or a triage person if the question is not sent to the committee chair, so he/she can make sure members questions get to the right people for answers.

Roxane King: Listening and truly understanding NAJIT’s members hence following through with an action/s to enhance, resolve or change is and should always be one of our priorities. I believe if elected the following could be possibilities to reinforce the aforementioned.
1.Surveys
2.Town Hall meetings via WebEx or Skype
3.Quarterly all hands calls through a WebEx by reporting financially the latest accomplishments and successful connectivity.
4.Internal FB app that is built specifically for NAJIT. Post things that are going on through live feed.
5. Creating an internal NAJIT app where interpreters and translators are connecting globally with live professional questions to colleagues and receiving a live chat to help resolve.
5.Lunch and learn webinars
6.Coffee with the colleagues
7.Interviews or highlights of members.
8. Connectivity events, ball games, happy hour. Since we are all spread across the nation and the world some of the above mentioned could be carried out through regional chapters. Dear colleagues, so many ideas come to mind that I could continue writing on and on, but I will tell you that my feelings are just as strong towards the importance of listening as it is to be listened to and that is the true key to understanding.

Dear colleagues, so many ideas come to mind that I could continue writing on and on, but I will tell you that my feelings are just as strong towards the importance of listening as it is to be listened to and that is the true key to understanding.

Claudia Rubio Samulowitz: One of the best things social media offers is the opportunity to be in close contact with our peers; Najit’s FB page is a good example. Being an active member of different fora, has allowed me to stay abreast of my colleagues’ questions and concerns and opens the door to effective communication between us. I answer as many questions as I can, offer my opinion when asked, offer help and counsel to starting members of our profession (30+ years of professional practice brings a lot of good, bad and unusual experiences to post about,) and never miss an opportunity to share a bit of humor.

If elected as a member of the board, I would encourage our members to contact us directly with their comments to strengthen our communication channels. Having said that, and regardless of who gets elected to the board, I would also encourage our members to be active participants of our Association by requesting access to our Board meetings’ minutes.

My favorite quote of an old Disney movie was “education or elimination.” The better informed we are about the way our Board and staff are managing our organization, the better decisions we can make when it comes to re-electing our officers. As members of NAJIT, we all have vested interests to take care of and responsibilities to meet. In fact, this is a perfect example of the difference an active participant makes. Those of you who are taking the time to send questions before deciding who to elect are not only doing your due diligence, you are also helping our answers to reach others who might have the same concerns. Congratulations 🙂

Great question!

Teresa Salazar: I think that your question goes to the heart of the matter when it comes to what I, as a member, have felt is a lack of effective communication between the NAJIT membership and the organization that represents that membership.  Communication is a two-way street, but, unfortunately, in the past I have felt that there was a tendency towards a unidirectional flow of communication with information flowing from the board to the members and stopping there.  Things have certainly improved over the years, but I believe we can still do better by providing members with a specific avenue for making their concerns known to the Board.  It has been pointed out to me that the NAJIT listserv is the place where concerns are aired, but unless the Board were to closely monitor the listserv on a daily basis and which would be extremely time consuming, the conversation would remain primarily among the membership and important issues could be missed in the shuffle of exchanges. A more structured means is needed.

My approach, initially, is that making the Board more accessible to the members it represents need not be terribly complicated.  NAJIT has a website that could provide a specific area for members to address the board regarding issues of high priority whenever necessary. Responsibility for keeping track of correspondence coming into the specific Board area could be rotated among the Board members, but any issues would be addressed by the Board as a body. Again, this would be a start. Depending on what is possible logistically, perhaps we might even consider holding quarterly on-line forums to discuss priority issues brought up by the members.

These are just some of the possibilities I have been ruminating on since deciding to run for the Board of Directors.  I think we should also be open to suggestions from the membership as to how they feel there could be more satisfactory communication. We should all share in making this happen.

Holly SilvestriI completely concur with your assessment of the position. I believe NAJIT does a good job of this. We have town halls at the conferences, and I know from personal experience that emails are answered in a timely fashion. However, as is often the case with constituents of politicians, there may be some who feel NAJIT doesn’t do enough. I know that, at least in part, this may be due to a lack of knowledge on the part of the constituency of WHAT we can do, given our status as 1. A 501c organization and 2. volunteers with jobs just like all of you. This is perhaps where more education is required. I refer you all to the document created by NAJIT below for specifics. I intend to uphold the same standards for action as are outlined there. As for my potential position as a volunteer on the board, I will take it seriously, and will undertake all tasks to the best of my ability given the fact that I also have to live and make a living. While this may not be what you want to hear, it is the absolute truth.

https://najit.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Advocacy-101-for-Interpreters-and-Translators-NAJIT-4.2017.pdf