2018 Conference Roundup

Portrait of Athena Matilsky

By Athena Matilsky

NAJIT 39th Conference spread

This past June found me in San Francisco on the weekend of June 9th. I was lucky enough to be there, along with 356 other language professionals, to attend NAJIT’s 39th annual conference. The weather was brilliant and the city beckoned. But first, there was networking to do!

One hundred and eighty people attended Friday’s 12 different pre-conference workshops, which offered advancement in consecutive note-taking, exam preparation and more.  NAJIT recognizes the importance of building bridges across our different fields, and on Friday there was also a special crossover session offered for medical interpreters hoping to transition into the judiciary.

In the evening we had our first ever meet and greet, offering six stations with information for newbies, translators, interpreters, judiciary crossover, the conference app, and LOTS (Languages Other Than Spanish) professionals.

On Saturday, the conference really got underway. With a total of 52 speakers and 316 participants hailing from 38 states and 6 different countries, the meeting rooms were bustling with activity. This was the perfect opportunity for professionals from all over to come together to learn about advances in the field and earn continuing education hours. Twenty-eight states and organizations, including the American Translators Association (ATA), the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI) and International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA), had approved CEUs. This year the board made a strong effort to promote workshops for LOTS interpreters, and this was rewarded by several different sessions, including specific workshops for Arabic and French interpreters.

There were plenty of moments to network with other interpreters and translators, as well as opportunities to visit vendors and sponsors during coffee breaks and at the annual luncheon and the Saturday evening reception.

Our keynote speaker at the luncheon, Mr. Jeff Adachi, who is the elected Public Defender of the City of San Francisco, gave an address that was very well received. He spoke about the importance of language access in the fair dispensation of justice, his high regard for the work that interpreters do and the way in which we serve a vital function in the judiciary. Mr. Adachi also mentioned his commitment to providing attorneys for immigration court. He discussed his surprise at the lack of legal representation and lack of interpretation during parts of the proceedings. SOSI’s representative met with Mr. Adachi afterward and we are hopeful to have in Mr. Adachi an ally who will also make language access a priority in immigration court as well as it is in criminal court.  Mr. Adachi underscored the importance of having qualified interpreters as they can affect the outcome of a case, for better or for worse.

Some of us (yours truly) retired to our rooms after a packed day at the conference, but others put on their dancing shoes and headed out for a night of salsa dancing in San Francisco. Then it was up bright and early the next morning for our annual town hall meeting, and some brave souls even made it to 6am Zumba!

We are still a new profession, but this conference was a demonstration of our commitment to the field, and every year finds us bigger and stronger than ever. There is much work to be done before there is uniformity across the field and consistent, professional support, and it is by participating in conferences like these that we are able to come together as a profession, improve our knowledge and make our voices heard. So, no more excuses…See you next year in Nashville for our 40th Annual Conference!

HINT: Register as soon as possible for next year’s conference and workshops to avoid being left out. Registration will open in January 2019. And here’s a heads-up – we’re going to Nashville, TN, May 17-19, 2019 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. We have an excellent rate of $185 a night, so start saving your pennies.

There were 11 exhibitors who offered information about their organizations and products:

Judicial Council of California

Capelle Spears

Interpreter Intelligence


National Center for Interpretation

The Confident Interpreter

American Translators Association


Interpreter Training Group

Paras and Associates


2018 NAJIT Conference
2018 NAJIT Conference
2018 NAJIT Conference

The Scholars

Congratulations to a wonderful crop of Scholars this year, whom we hope to cultivate and nurture to be leaders in the future of our profession. We look forward to reading their impressions of their first NAJIT conference in the next issue of Proteus. They are:

Luz Gallegos – John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Sonia Rincón – American University

Ivonne Camacho –  UC San Diego Extension

William Giller – Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Thank you to all the official and unofficial mentors who took time to speak with and offer them guidance. The mentors are:

Heidi Cazes
Mylene Green

Michael Kagan
Melissa Wallace, PhD

The Board

A HUGE thank you to outgoing Board members: Gladys Matthews, PhD, Ernest Niño-Murcia and Julie Sellers, PhD. NAJIT benefited greatly from their service!

2017-18 Board and NAJIT Executive Director

NAJIT’s newly comprised Board of Directors is as follows:

Aimee Benavides, Chair

Hilda Shymanik, Treasurer

Claudia Rubio Samulowitz, Secretary

Teresa Salazar, Director

Armando Ezquerra Hasbun, Director

Townhall 2018
2018-19 NAJIT Board

[Athena Matilsky fell in love with Spanish the year she turned 16. She chose it as her major at Rutgers University and selected a focus in translation and interpreting. After graduation, she taught elementary school in Honduras and then returned home to begin freelancing as a medical and court interpreter. She has since achieved certifications as a Healthcare Interpreter and a Federal Court Interpreter. She was the recent editor-in-chief of Proteus. Currently, she works as a freelance interpreter/translator and trains candidates privately for the state and federal interpreting exams. When she is not writing or interpreting, you may find her practicing acroyoga or studying French. Website: https://athenaskyinterpreting.wordpress.com/]

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