jump to navigation

Petition June 22, 2020

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA.

If you are a voting member of ATA my colleagues and I respectfully ask you to consider signing and submitting this petition by June 24 (that’s tomorrow) so that a Bylaws amendment to ensure voter choice will be presented for a vote at the 2020 ATA Elections.

I spoke with a former president about this very subject on Thursday, so I was able to gain some insight as to why ATA does what it does. [S/he] said they don’t want to have to put up a “straw man” when they already have a good candidate in mind for the position. That doesn’t sound very democratic to me. In order for an organization to be strong there should be an active exchange of opinions – even and especially opinions that aren’t unanimous. [S/he] didn’t want anyone’s feelings to get hurt and have them decide not to run again. It’s business, folks; it’s not personal. When Bob and I weren’t elected last year I didn’t let it get me down. That isn’t why I’m not running this year. I (and several others) put my nomination in this year, and it wasn’t accepted. I then decided to stay off the board and be a loud, pain-in-the-ass, squeaky wheel instead. If someone chooses to run for office in a contested election there will always be a winner and a loser. Maybe people didn’t know them. Maybe their speech didn’t match what people wanted for a representative. It doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t try again in the future.

ATA’s Bylaws allow competitive elections for President-elect as well as the other officers (Secretary and Treasurer). After Bob and I got over 100 votes each as write-in candidates, we sat in on the board meetings on Saturday and Sunday and witnessed the debate and the Board, at the Nominating Committee’s request, subsequently voting to eliminate the NC’s obligation to put forward multiple qualified members as nominees. There was quite a bit of confusion surrounding this vote, in fact.

Let’s clarify it for them. If you feel the Board should be working for its own members’ best interests, we need a vote to add a Bylaws amendment to ensure voter choice will be presented for a vote at the 2020 ATA Elections. Signing the petition will take two minutes at the most. Once you are finished please send the signed petition to atapetition@gmail.com. This ensures it will at least be put to a vote, as it should be.


Campaign statement for write-in as Director October 14, 2019

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA.
comments closed

For those who don’t know me, this should serve as a brief introduction. My name is Jill R. Sommer, and I am running as a write-in candidate for the ATA Board of Directors. I have been a full-time freelance German>English translator since 1995. I hold a dual BA in German and Russian from Bowling Green State University and an MA in German translation from Kent State University. I was on the board of the Northeast Ohio Translators Association from 2001 to 2017, with 15 of those years as Chapter President. I have been active in the German Language Division and Medical Divisions, was a moderator of the Business Practices listserv, and am on the ATA’s Ethics Committee, where I am currently serving as Chair.

As an active member of ATA since 2002 I have a long history of volunteering for the Association. I have always said I would rather be a squeaky wheel outside the Board, but I feel the time has come for me to be a squeaky wheel on the Board.

I feel that the recent ATA board decision to decouple certification from membership is a core issue that goes against the Bylaws, and to implement such a change requires a bylaws amendment vote by the voting members. I think critical issues such as declining membership or decoupling or even thoughts on continuing education should more frequently be put to the members. Individual translator and interpreter members are the heart of the ATA, and I see my role on the Board being to speak for those members.

I will work to promote greater diversity of educational opportunities, such as smaller, more specialized conferences being offered. Through smaller, regional seminars, we can make many valuable connections with colleagues that are more difficult to make at the annual conference. Such smaller events can also be more affordable and can draw in a diverse range of members.

Robert Sette and I have been conducting a write-in campaign for the ATA Board, for the following positions:
For President-elect (2-year term): Robert Sette
For Director (3-year term): Jill R. Sommer

Robert and I respectfully ask for your support and your vote. If elected, we will work with determination on behalf of the membership’s right to have a fair debate on decoupling with the views of both sides presented. This is the only fair option, given that the ultimate decision—on the part of the membership—will truly shape the future of our association.

Guest post by Robert Sette: In reply to Dr. Koby October 6, 2019

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA.
1 comment so far

[Note from Jill: I turned this into a blog post because Robert wanted to include a graphic in his reply to Dr. Koby’s comment. This just seemed like the easier way.]

This is a reply to Professor Geoff Koby of Kent State University, specifically to his comments on this blog:

Professor Koby,

I accurately stated at the Denver Board meeting on August 3, 2019 that “5 of us [are] driving this petition movement”. At that time, ATA was in possession of 35+ signed member petitions, including those signed Chapter Presidents, current and former committee chairs and certification graders as well as former Board members other than myself. Also two former Certification Committee chairs were among the petitioners.

As you are aware, this petition effort had been rejected while in process because it failed to meet a deadline contained in a policy that had not been published since its approval 3 years earlier. Said policy was not available in the “Policies” section of the ATA website, nor was it able to be found by a reasonable keyword search (only by the name of the policy, which had nothing to do with “bylaws amendments”. Further, the submission form referenced in that policy had never been prepared by ATA, and it took over a week for me to subsequently obtain it. When I did, it was time stamped 20 minutes before being sent by the Chair of the Governance Committee, who when I asked later, said, “I knew you would see that and I meant to change that date before sending it to you.” He also said, “Well we wouldn’t reject your petition because you didn’t have the form.” But our petition was rejected because of a procedural, purely arbitrary, deadline that was never published, and not available on the website. So does the Board enforce its policies or does it not?)

Back to our petition: We requested a waiver of the 120 day deadline, which was denied, and we were instead told by President Corinne McKay that “[the Board had] decided to hold a referendum on the decision to open the certification exam to non-members. This will appear as a referendum question on this year’s ballot, and all voting members will be able to vote on it.” (see email screen cap below).

And so we stood down. But there had been no Board decision to hold a referendum. We were given false information (i.e. lied to) ostensibly to get us to stop our efforts, at a time when a bylaws amendment vote or a referendum still could have taken place quite easily. You were vocal at the following Board meeting with your opinion to forge ahead with decoupling, without regard for the consequences to the ATA.

As you will see soon, many people have disagreed with this decision over the years. Frequent dissent has been brought up on ATATalk. Member-driven bylaws amendments to protect our credential were submitted in 2003, 2006 and 2009 to Headquarters (though none of them were beneficiaries of the reach of social media, so they only obtained around 35 signatures each time. For the record, neither I nor the other drivers of current efforts were involved in those petition efforts). This shows that HQ was aware of opposition, and current leadership should also have been aware of it.

My guess, and it is an educated guess, is that the Board knew they would and do now face a huge uphill battle to have the membership approve a bylaws amendment allowing decoupling. So the board has hidden for years behind the word “policy”, and now “ambiguous” in reference to the bylaws.

Lastly, you say that this matter is on the agenda for the upcoming Board meeting, but there has been no real discussion of a vote so far. This one-sided “information” campaign does not fool us. The debate cannot be one-sided, and I dare to say that the approach employed so far has tainted the process. Any debate and discussion of this decoupling issue must be balanced, fair, and, dare I say, bipartisan. Otherwise, it violates the fiduciary duty of ATA Board members to represent the whole of the membership.

Unless true freelancers who represent a diversity of opinion are elected to the Board at Palm Springs, dissenting opinions will continue to be ignored and quashed.

Robert Sette, CT
Full-time freelance translator
Write-in candidate for ATA President-elect
Co-founder of ATA Members Voice (on Facebook)
@ATAmembers #ATAmembers

Decoupling and the ATA October 1, 2019

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA.
1 comment so far

ataTwenty years ago the ATA hired a consultant, Michael Hamm, former executive director of the National Organization for Competency Assurance and the principal of Michael Hamm & Associates, to “[review] and [evaluate] ATA’s accreditation program and [provide] the association’s leadership and members at large with a number of valuable insights. The purpose of what came to be known as the “Hamm Report” was to point the way toward strengthening the program and improving the benefits of accreditation… Michael Hamm observes that while most credentialing efforts are initially developed to meet the needs of the members, the most effective ones are not tied to any membership criteria for participation, since competence and quality have nothing to do with the payment of dues to an association. The credibility of the credentialing effort is enhanced if it is viewed as a service to the wider public rather than a service to members. The move from a membership-based to a freestanding credential is a significant one in the evolution of any voluntary certification program.” Stejskal, J., “International Certification Study: ATA’s Credential,” ATA Chronicle 32, no. 7 (July 2003), p. 14, available at http://www.atanet.org/chronicle-online/wp-content/uploads/2003-July.pdf.

See also Hamm, M.S., “An Executive Summary: Review of the ATA Certification Program,” available at http://www.atanet.org/bin/view.pl/24113.html.

Twenty years later questions have arisen that probably should have been asked over the last twenty years. In his report on the ATA certification program Mr. Hamm wrote:

“Most certification programs have moved away from association membership requirements because no one has ever demonstrated a strong relationship between paying dues to any organization and professional competence.”

Many changes have been made in the ATA, such as recruiting active/voting members who are not certified (I was one of the first – and paid for the Peer Review) and making member benefits and rights such as the ATA Conference and Certification Program self-sustaining (which led to higher fees all around), leading up to this final act of decoupling. The problem is that the ATA Bylaws specify certification as a “right of membership.” Changing this requires a Bylaws amendment by membership vote. Robert Sette is one of a number of members asking the ATA Board to put it to a vote of the voting members. He responded to the above quote:

“Most”? In 2000? So why can’t we find them today? In an admittedly brief search, I saw a regional association of speech therapists in Australia that offered its certification to non-members. That was the only one I found.

If this is a “trend” as Hamm said elsewhere in his report, why do we not now, 20 years later, see more non-member certification programs in a wide variety of fields?

I contend that this was flat-out an inaccurate, false statement. And it has served as the basis for the ATA to waste volunteer time and member funds for much of the past 20 years.

The ATA Bylaws require an amendment in order to decouple certification (exam & credential) from membership. ATA has steadfastly refused for 20+ years to seek such an amendment, so we are working to demand a voice in this decision for the voting membership of the Association before decoupling occurs.

In fact, one ATA member pointed out that NAJIT implemented a decoupled exam and it was unable to sustain itself and failed, after 33 people became certified in approximately 10 years.

Robert made a couple other points that are worth noting:

Just a thought or two on the ATA certification credential:

a) ATA certification already is the gold standard. The CT credential, along with MITI and DipTrans, are the 3 most prestigious credentials in the translation industry.

b) It is a voluntary credential, not a license. As such, a membership fee associated with maintaining the credential is logical. Why should non-members ostensibly benefit from the expense of promoting the CT mark while not contributing financially to that promotion?

Paula Gordon also did a great job explaining her thoughts on decoupling back in 2017 in a blog post entitled Why I Will Vote Against ATA’s Bylaws Amendments. It was about an amendment to the Bylaws expanding voting rights, but she rightly ties it into decoupling. Be sure to click on the link and check it out.

As for me, Jill R. Sommer: I feel it will harm the association as a whole. I know several members who have already left ATA because they feel it does not fully represent the members’ interests. President-Elect and incoming President Ted Wozniak has told me the Board does not feel they will lose many members as a result of the change, but I am not sure they can estimate the ramifications – especially since people have already left the association because of it. Additionally, many members are feeling ongoing frustration at ATA leadership’s refusal to allow a member vote on the matter. A vote is proper, just, and overdue.

Also, as head of the Ethics Committee this does affect me in that the Ethics Committee would really not have much power to sanction misbehaving non-members. Sure, we can yank their certification, but I already know of one or two members who continue[d] to claim they are certified (until they received our cease and desist letter). As NOTA President, I would sometimes go on Proz and try to police the people claiming NOTA membership when they lived in other countries. And I only had 100 member names to go through. It is hard to patrol an association of 10,000+ members. Yes, members submit complaints, but at the moment we cannot sanction non-members and have to dismiss the complaint. We are a committee of 10 volunteers just trying to pay our rent while help the association out.

In conclusion, forging ahead without a vote, continuing to tell us—educated, well-informed members—that ATA leadership alone knows what is right for the Association and needs to “inform” us, will do nothing but tear the Association apart, causing further decline of membership numbers and even less respect for the actions of the ATA Board.

If you would like to be part of the ongoing discussion on decoupling and calling for a vote, consider joining https://www.facebook.com/groups/atamembersvoice/

Guest post: Write-in candidates for ATA President-Elect and Director September 22, 2019

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA.

Dear ATA colleagues,

As many of you are aware, a group of us have been quite vocal about the issue of decoupling, specifically regarding the ATA Board diluting a membership right that is clearly granted in the Bylaws. Although the Board has agreed to postpone the effective date of decoupling until January 1, 2021, they have not formally agreed to seek membership approval in the form of a Bylaws amendment. We have attempted to dialog with the Board and have been rebuffed through various means, including being told that we had 6 years to bring this issue up, and that we were “too late”.

As a result, I am pleased to ask your support for Jill R. Sommer and I running as write-in candidates for the following positions:

President-elect: Robert Sette

Director (3-year term): Jill R. Sommer

The prime concern we have is to ensure that the voice of members is heard. You may have received messages before prior Board meetings saying “We are listening”. I guarantee you that if we are elected, we will hear your concerns, and our hearing will not be selective.

Our “platform” covers the following:

    1. Membership vote on decoupling: We support holding a Bylaws amendment vote as a prerequisite for opening the ATA certification exam to non-members, as well as an assurance that no member funds will be used to support non-members taking the exam.
    2. Consideration of member input and dissenting views: The Board has rebuffed member input on significant issues and has squelched dissenting views. Though policies and procedures are important, if they are to be enforced, they need to be communicated in a timely and effective manner.
    3. Continued inclusion of interpreters: We are a diverse association in terms of the languages we all work with, as well as the segments of the industry in which we work. Full-time interpreters, full-time translators, and all gradations in between deserve a voice in ATA affairs.
    4. We support more transparent, useful and timely information being provided to the membership. There is no reason that members should wait 3+ months for approval of the meeting minutes to learn factual information on action taken at ATA Board meetings. As a corollary, the policies according to which the Board operates should be easily available to the membership, notwithstanding confidentiality issues.
    5. Reform of the nominations process: We support the very recent Board action supporting multiple candidates for each elected office of the association. Diversity of views and “new blood” is very important in all director and officer positions, to avoid the leadership being monolithic (re: languages, policy positions, segment of the T&I industry, etc.).
    6. While this is not really a “plank” of our platform, Jill and I are both full-time freelancers, like a majority of our association.

In conclusion, I respectfully ask for your support for Jill and I for the specified positions. We are both available to answer any questions you may have.

Best regards,
Robert Sette, CT

Scam alert: Wayne Needs You August 27, 2019

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Scam alert.
1 comment so far


I just received the following email from the ATA domain (atanet.org). I immediately reached out to Mary David at Headquarters, and she let me know that it is NOT from ATA.


Clues that it is a scam:

* ATA has not and will never send out fundraiser requests.

* Most GoFundMe requests take you to the GoFundMe page and not directly to Paypal.

* If you search the GoFundMe site the page does not exist.


Congratulations on 300 issues of the Tool Box Journal May 23, 2019

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA.
add a comment

Jost Zetzsche sent out his 300th edition of the Tool Box Journal last night. That is indeed an amazing achievement, and I would like to take the time to congratulate him and thank him for all of his valuable contributions to the translation industry. He makes translation technology easier to understand and is an effective go-between between us and the toolmakers.

The ATA website had this to say about Jost in their article about awarding him Honorary Membership (the photo is also from the ATA website):

“Jost is the industry’s leading translation technology consultant and a published author on various aspects of translation. His computer guide for translators, A Translator’s Tool Box for the 21st Century, is now in its 13th edition, and his technical newsletter for translators goes out to more than 11,000 translation and interpreting professionals. In 2012, Penguin published his co-authored Found in Translation, a book about translation and interpreting for the general public. His most recent publication, Translation Matters, is a collection of 81 essays about translators and translation technology collected over the past 15 years.”

Congratulations, Jost! We look forward to another 300 editions.

Tips for the upcoming ATA conference October 7, 2016

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA.
add a comment

It’s now less than a month until the ATA Annual Conference in San Francisco. I just wanted to share some administrative tips for those of you who may not be active on the listservs and might have missed it.

  • Be sure to download the conference app and if nothing else please use it to submit session and conference evaluations. This will save ATA money and will ensure that the conference fee, which is now designed to break-even instead of lose money, will remain as low as it can possibly be.
  • Bring your own tote or messenger bag to the conference. ATA decided last year to do away with them, since most people threw them out and, most recently, recycled them at the end of the conference. There will be an ATA messenger bag to purchase at the ATAWare table, but they sold out very quickly last year. So either bring your own bag or buy the messenger bag as soon as you check in.
  • If you are planning on attending the Job Fair this year be sure to bring some printed resumes with you to hand to the companies there. The companies will have signs indicating exactly what they are looking for, so you won’t need 30. Maybe print out 10 just in case. Better to have too many than too few.
  • Be sure to order and bring your business cards. I’ve been buying mine from Vista Print, but there are lots of affordable options. Just be sure to splurge a little and get one that doesn’t have an ad for the printing company.
  • We will be in the Financial District again. This is close to the Embarcadero Center and the Ferry Building with its many restaurants and artisan food market as well as within walking distance of Chinatown and my favorite restaurant, The Tadich Grill (I highly recommend the cioppino). If you want to eat at the Slanted Door, which is also fairly close (1 Ferry Building #3), I recommend getting a reservation.
  • For those of you who will still be there on Sunday, Jose, Joe and I are getting a group together for dim sum. Please let me know ahead of time if you’d like to join us so I can make the reservation. Dim sum is best enjoyed with a group.

Advanced Skills and Training Day, November 2 August 26, 2016

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Business practices, Tools.
add a comment

There’s a new change to this year’s ATA conference. You’ve asked for more advanced and in-depth sessions, and ATA has heard you. This is your chance to prove to the ATA that they are welcome and needed. The pre-conference sessions are now a full day of three-hour courses taught by invited presenters. It’s now called the Advanced Skills & Training Day. Come join me and Allison Bryant from 8:30am-12:00pm on November 2 at “Mastering PDFs using OCR and Advanced Formatting Features in Word.” This hands-on session (bring your laptops!!) is limited to 30 participants, so register soon to ensure you will be a part of it. I’ve already had several people reach out to me about it and express their excitement. Through hands-on activities, you will learn how to stop wasting your time and start impressing your clients. By learning OCR technology, advanced formatting techniques in Word, and other tricks for easily manipulating PDFs and other non-editable documents, you too can become a formatting guru.

You can learn more about it here: http://www.atanet.org/conf/2016/astday/

The only caveat is that people *must* register for the conference in order to attend AST day. You cannot register for an AST session alone.

2016 East Coast Interpreters and Translators Summit August 1, 2016

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Business practices.
add a comment

I am presenting at the DVTA Summit in September along with several other notable speakers. It should be an informative and entertaining weekend. Please think about joining us.


Saturday, September 10,
2016 East Coast Interpreters and Translators Summit

Business Skills * Translation * Interpretation* Transcription

Saturday, September 10 at La Salle University – Philadelphia, PA

Bonus: A Computerized ATA Exam Sitting will be given on Sunday morning, September 11

These top speakers and sessions will be featured:                               

DOROTHEE RACETTE    (Keynote Speaker)

Session I (Keynote Address): Productivity Strategies for Freelance Professionals

Practical strategies to help independent contractors produce high-quality work while promoting their business and staying organized. Practical, hands-on productivity methods and ways to make the most of working hours.

Session II: Principles of Time Management

Best approaches to stay on top of your tasks without stress and hours of overtime through specific techniques to manage time and to make the most of working and leisure hours.


Beyond the Basics: Tips for Better Formatting in Microsoft Word

Practical knowledge and techniques for working with MS Word and negotiating other formats.

Session I: The Voice of Compassion – Interpreting for Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse

90-minute workshop focusing on specific techniques, strategies and self-care practices for interpreters who encounter trauma in any setting

Session II:  Here Be Monsters! Intervention Skills for the Gray Zone between Legal and Medical Interpreting

90-minute workshop offering specific techniques that work well when both legal and medical interpreting overlap.

Session I: Transcription/Translation (TT) of Forensic and Other Recordings
This session will present an overview of the specialized practice of transcribing the audio content of recordings and translating the resulting transcript, outlining currently accepted procedures, protocols, ethics and techniques. Handouts containing the PowerPoint and pertinent documents will be provided on a DVD.
Session II:  Transcription/Translation of Audio Files:  Software to make it easier!
The instructor will show how to use software to turn your computer into a transcription machine, rip audio files from video recordings, convert file formats, enhance the sound quality of audio files for more efficient and precise listening, and simplify the translation phase. A DVD with software programs and links will be provided, along with some practice materials.

  • Guest Certified Public Accountant (Patricia L. Keller, CPA, MBA of Independent Tax & Financial Planners itfp.com)
  • Guest Attorney (Stephanie M. Shortall, Esq. of HighSwartz, LLP highswartz.com)

APPROVED FOR 6 ATA CE Points, 6 AOPC CEUs (including 3 for Ethics),
6 Delaware AOC and 6 Maryland AOC CEUs

For more information see:  DVTAECSummit10Sep2016_Flyer