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About NATI

NATI was established in 1998 and formally incorporated as a 501(c)6 association in 1999 with our final bylaws ratified and signed on July 4, 2000. Since then, our membership has grown from 8 very dedicated members of a steering committee to over 200 independent contractors, NGO's, government employees, businesses, volunteer language access activists, ESL instructors and healthcare providers. Our members speak numerous languages and dialects, have widely varying personal and professional backgrounds, hail from states around the US and generously share their cultural knowledge and multinational expertise.

The NATI Board of Directors is made up of active and dedicated NATI members who may be practicing interpreters and translators, language bureaus, students, public agency staff, and private organizations who utilize language service providers. We meet the first Sunday of every month from 1-3 PM. If you would like to attend a Board meeting as an observer, please email us at

Board of Directors



Karina Ruiz-Vargas, President (2020-2022)

(English and Spanish)

Karina is currently preparing to become a certified Medical Interpreter. She received a BA in Psychology from University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She currently is Spanish interpreter at Health 360, a partnership with People's Health Center and Lutheran Family Services. She is also a Certified Lactation Counselor (CLC) working toward becoming an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). In the past, she has worked at an Immigration Law office and has done community interpreting. In the near future, she will be pursuing her Master's Degree in either Social Work in order to help families through counseling/therapy services.

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Wei Whitbeck, Vice President (2020-2022)

(Chinese and English)

Wei is a full-time professional freelance interpreter and translator and a member of the American Translators Association. Her working languages are Mandarin Chinese and English. MA in Interpretation and Translation from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, Wei has been providing T&I services since 2001. She is a founding member of a US-based niche technology and media localization company and taught graduate-level interpretation courses and college-level language courses in the past.

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Emma Lockard, Webmaster (2020-2022) 

(English and Spanish)

Emma is Nebraska born and raised, but has an affinity for learning other languages and cultures, traveling, and helping others. She received her Bachelor's degree in Spanish Translation and Interpretation with a minor in French from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Her previous work included being an educational interpreter and translator and a coordinator of an intpretation program. She currently works as a bilingual real estate agent in the Omaha area and an interpreter instructor, as well as a freelance interpreter and translator. Fun fact: she did her first translation at the age of 13; it was Shakira's breakout album in the U.S. called "Laundry Service". Emma translated all the songs from Spanish to English in one night. She thrives off helping others, specifically empowering and supporting individuals in the Translation and Interpretation professions. 

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Paula Estrada Gaasch, Treasurer (2021-2023)

(English and Spanish)

Paula is currently employed as a Spanish/English district interpreter/translator for Kearney Public Schools. In this role she accompanies staff for home visits, interprets for families on phone calls or at school activities and parent teacher conferences. In addition she translates documents for teachers and staff to send out to families. Previously she worked at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. While she serves on the NATI board she hopes to offer her experiences and skills that have come with working in the interpretation/translation field and also from working as a team member in previous jobs on a committee, and from working in the community. Paula also wants to help educate people and communities on the need for professional interpreters and translators as well as promoting the field to students.

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Angela Keller, Secretary (2021-2023)

(English and Spanish)  

Angela received a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Spanish Translation and Interpretation in 2010, and a Master’s degree in Spanish Education in 2013 from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. She began work as a Graduate Assistant for the Department of Modern Languages, and joined the department as a Lecturer of Spanish and Spanish Translation. She was recently promoted to Senior Lecturer of Spanish and Spanish Translation, and Director of the Spanish Translation and Interpretation program at UNK. She also teaches Translation and classes designed specifically for Heritage Speakers. She is a member of the American Translators Association (ATA) and the Nebraska Association of Translators and Interpreters (NATI), and has presented on Translation Ethics at the NATI West 2015 conference and the Self-efficacy of Heritage Learners in the Translation Classroom at the 2016 American Translators Association conference in San Francisco. Outside of the “classroom,” she freelances as a translator and interpreter for the state of Nebraska.

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Victor Garcia, Director (2020-2022)

(English and Spanish)  

Victor works as a Bilingual College Planning Specialist at EducationQuest Foundation in Omaha, Nebraska since 2012. He meets with students and parents to help them research college options, find scholarship resources, learn about financial aid, complete college applications, and complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). He provides services in both English and Spanish, and conducts financial aid and college planning presentations at college fairs, educational planning programs, financial aid programs, and other education-related events. Victor continues to work as a Spanish translator/interpreter and has recorded radio voice-over scripts in both languages. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Translation/Interpretation with a minor in Broadcast Journalism from University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2010. While attending UNK he also helped found the Non-traditional Student Organization.






Want to be on the NATI Board of Directors? Now is your chance!

Do you or someone you know want to make a difference in NATI while developing your own knowledge and skills? Consider serving on the Board of Directors! Elections will be held after the conference. Details regarding the Election, the process, and requirements can be found in this 2022 NATI Board Information Sheet (click and download to view).
You can complete a 2022 Nomination for Election Form for you or for someone you feel would be of benefit to the Association and its members, and who will also benefit from their service on the Board. The Board Nomination Form is due by August 15th, 2019 and no later. Remember: You MUST be a current member of NATI to be nominated for the Election for the Board.

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PO Box 3306
Omaha, NE 68103


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