About NATI2024-06-24T21:02:26-05:00

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 [email protected].

Board of Directors

Emma Lockard
Emma LockardPresident (2022-2024)
(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 interpretation 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.
Wei Whitbeck
Wei WhitbeckVice President (2022-2024)
(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.
Tom Fennel
Tom FennelSecretary (2022-2024)
(English and Russian)
Tom Fennell holds a master’s degree in Russian history from Harvard University. He was also a Fulbright Scholar at the Free University of Berlin. In 1989 he moved to Moscow to experience the “perestroika” era up close, working in the travel industry before returning to his first love, languages, as a full-time translator in 2004. He worked as a staff editor at the Moscow office of the law firm Baker & McKenzie before moving his freelance practice back home to the US in 2007. At that point he was certified by the American Translators Association (ATA) in the language pair Russian>English. Tom has been the lead Russian>English legal translator for one of the world’s largest translation agencies. He and his team have completed projects with up to 1 million words on very tight deadlines, including projects with hundreds of scanned pdf files. Tom is very tech-friendly, and he has written custom software to improve quality and increase productivity during the process of editing machine translations. He serves on the Nominating Committees of the Slavic and Law Divisions of the American Translators Association (ATA), and his Russian>English legal glossary was published in the Summer 2021 edition of the Division’s quarterly publication, SlavFile. Tom’s company, C3 Translators looks forward to providing opportunities for translators and interpreters here in Nebraska and beyond our borders.
Paula Estrada Gaasch
Paula Estrada GaaschTreasurer (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.
Karina Ruiz-Vargas
Karina Ruiz-VargasDirector (2022-2024)
(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.
Victor Garcia
Victor GarciaDirector (2022-2024)
(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.
Sung Ling Lam
Sung Ling LamDirector (2022-2024)
(English, Japanese, and Spanish)
Sung was born and raised in Panama and moved to the United States as a teenager to pursue higher education. She is a Certified Medical Interpreter (CMI) and a Certified Translation Professional (CTP). Sung’s educational achievements include an Associate of Science (AS) degree in Spanish, a Liberal Art/Academy Transfer (LATAS) degree, and an Associate in Professional Health Studies (PHSAS) degree from MCC-Nebraska. She furthered her knowledge by earning a Bachelor of Multidisciplinary Studies (BMS) in Healthcare Administration with a double minor in Spanish and Worksite Wellness from the University of Nebraska. In addition to her academic achievements, Sung is a member of the prestigious Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. She is also a member and holder of the Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) designation from the National Association for Interpretation (NAI). She is a professional member of the American Translation and Interpretation Studies Association (ATISA), the International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS), and the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC). Sung has been actively involved in the fields of healthcare and linguistics for over 15 years as a multilingual interpreter, a translator, a cultural interpreting consultant, and a language interpreting coach/specialist, demonstrating her dedication and commitment to the profession.
Angela Monterroso
Angela MonterrosoDirector (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.
Christopher J. Jacobs
Christopher J. JacobsDirector (2022-2024)
(English, French, Italian and Spanish)
Chris (aka “CJ”), a Pennsylvania native, has been an Assistant Professor of French, Italian, Spanish & Linguistics at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) since August 2020. There, he teaches communicative language classes, as well as classes on second language acquisition (SLA), language teaching methods, and interpretation. Also at UNK, CJ leads immersive summer study abroad experiences in Lyon, France, and Milan, Italy; coordinates the weekly Non-English Conversation Tables; and directs the annual World Languages Week. Previously, CJ taught French, Italian, Spanish, linguistics, and ESL/TESOL in various contexts ranging from elementary school to university, all in his home state of Pennsylvania. He has also worked as a translator and interpreter at medical clinics for the uninsured in Harrisburg and Gettysburg, PA, and at a pro bono immigrant legal services organization in York, PA. CJ brings a unique perspective to the NATI board as a non-Nebraskan educating Nebraska’s, the country’s, and the world’s future translators and interpreters.

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 are held after the annual conference. Details regarding the Election, the process, and requirements can be shared with individuals interested – just send us an email to get the form and steps on how to nominate yourself or others.

Remember: You MUST be a current member of NATI to be nominated for the Election for the Board.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I become a Translator?2023-06-04T22:58:31-05:00

A translator is a person who renders messages and meaning of text, film, or other material from one language to another. (Not to be confused with an interpreter who works with spoken word.) There are specializations in translation much like interpretation, and depending on which you want to specialize will influence your steps for pursuing a career as a translator. It’s important to note that being a translator requires professional training; simply knowing languages isn’t enough. A few associations one can access for more resources are American Translators Association (ATA), American Foundation for Translation and Interpretation (AFTI), Fédération Internationale des Traducteurs/International Federation of Translators, The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) . 

How do I become a NATI Member?2023-05-29T12:49:22-05:00

To become a NATI Member, head over to the membership page

How do I become an Interpreter?2023-06-04T23:05:13-05:00

A language interpreter is a person who provides an oral translation between speakers who speak different languages. The steps to become an interpreter depends on what you would like to specialize in – medical, legal, community, education, mental health, etc. But do know that to be a professional interpreter one must have training; knowing another language simply isn’t enough. For legal interpretation certification, you need to reach out to local courts or the Supreme Court of your state to find the steps and requirements and from there determine where to find training (Nebraska Courts, Iowa Courts). There is also the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT) .  Usually there is an orientation that must be completed. For medical, there are numerous training events online or in-person through CCHI, IMIA, Bridging the Gap to name a few. Online training and in-person training is also available for legal, medical, community, social services, and mental health on TransInterpreting or Linguist Education Online. In some communities one can take classes at a local community college or university. And of course we encourage individuals to attend our annual conference to learn more about becoming an interpreter and network with those working in the industry.

There are also steps to become a Sign Language Interpreter. Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc. is a great resource to find training and certification steps.

Go to Top