Colorado Translators Association – A History

The Colorado Translators Association has been around for more than 30 years. Since then, it has grown from a loose grouping of local professionals to a well-organized consortium of translators and interpreters. By the end of the year 2019, CTA membership totaled more than 180 members.

Such membership numbers were inconceivable when CTA was in its infancy in the early 1980s. Back then, the Colorado Translators Association consisted merely of a small grouping of local linguists, said Jane Maier, a Spanish and French to English translator, who became involved with the group in 1979. “It was pretty defunct. They were not meeting, they were not doing anything,” she said.

The translators realized that they had to become organized in order to promote the interests of their profession. At a time when translations were written on typewriters, this was no easy task, said Maya León-Meis, a Spanish translator who had joined the group in 1980. She recalled that it took many phone calls and monthly or bi-monthly meetings – often in someone’s living room – to write the bylaws for the Colorado Translators Association. “We were trying to create a formal platform for professionals that offered some training from time to time,” she said. One of the pillars of CTA in those early years was a Russian translator, Sidonie Safonov, who became CTA’s president in the first official election in 1985. Others who were instrumental in the formation of CTA include Jane Maier, Maya León-Meis, Dutch translator Maria “Mies” de Vries, German translator Inge “Chris” Hollingsworth and French translator Jean-Claude Artaud.

Joining Forces

From the beginning, the first CTA board was eager to gain official chapter status with the American Translators Association. However, the Colorado Translators Association did not meet the requirement of having 20 ATA voting members. “We were always just on the verge,” said Maier. In 1987, under Maier’s leadership, CTA decided to join forces with the Utah Translators and Interpreters Association (UTIA) and the New Mexico Translators and Interpreters Association (NMTIA). “We realized we had to get together to make it work,” Maier said. The groups formed the Intermountain Chapter of ATA (ICATA), which became an official ATA chapter that year in Salt Lake City. ICATA held several annual conferences, the first of which took place in Denver.

Running an ATA chapter over such a large area proved to be difficult. Communication was a challenge, and the interests of the local groups often diverged. After a few years, more and more members were expressing their dissatisfaction with the arrangement and their belief that CTA and its members would be better off as a separate group, even if ATA chapter status could not be achieved in the near future. In 1992, five years following the formation of ICATA, the Intermountain Chapter of ATA was dissolved and the Colorado translators were back on their own.

Growth Through Networking

In the years that followed, the Colorado Translators Association focused on recruiting members and promoting its own organization. “We got together, we had meetings, we had workshops, we had social events,” Maier said. Virginia Fox, who was CTA president in the early 1990s, instituted monthly gatherings at local restaurants to keep the social networking going and keep everyone in touch. “Since this was before the Internet and our listserv, the only real contacts were made in person,” Fox said. The association also published a monthly newsletter, which reached members via snail mail.

The rise of the Internet in the mid-1990s made it much easier for members across the state to exchange information and to promote the Colorado Translators Association to the outside world. Under the leadership of Michael Klein, CTA joined the World Wide Web with its own website. A breakthrough in CTA’s way to communicate with its members came in 2004, when the Colorado Translators Association started an email listserv. To this day, this member-only subscription list is a unique and very active line of communication between the members of CTA.

The 2010s was another decade of growth for CTA. In 2011, the association organized its first annual multi-day conference, with a variety of networking and professional learning opportunities. Under the leadership of Thaïs Lips, CTA reiterated its desire to become an ATA chapter and in 2013, more than 30 years after its founding, CTA became a legal non-profit entity in the state of Colorado and took the necessary steps to become an ATA chapter—and this time on its own.

With profiles on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, CTA continues to reach out to professionals beyond the state of Colorado, offering support and advice to its members. Frequent networking and professional development events such as monthly coffee meetups, social dinners, training sessions and its popular annual conference round out the efforts of the Colorado Translators Association to play an active role in bringing together translators, interpreters and other language service providers.

Annotation of the author:

Creating a timeline of CTA’s history meant asking numerous individuals very detailed questions about things that happened long ago. Many of the early members have passed away or moved on, and many records of the founding days have been lost over the years. If any information provided here is incorrect or incomplete, please feel free to leave a comment, and this article will be updated accordingly. Special thanks to Jane Maier, Mies de Vries, Maya León-Meis, Lee Ana Trujillo-Lopez, Virginia Fox, Rhoda Miller and Hélène des Rosiers for their assistance in completing this article.

List of Past CTA Presidents

  1. Sidonie Safonov
  2. Jane Maier
  3. Chris Hollingsworth
  4. Carla Behrens
  5. Rhoda Miller
  6. Virginia Fox
  7. Michael Klein
  8. Mylène Vialard
  9. Francisco Resendiz
  10. Kathy DiCenzo
  11. Corinne McKay
  12. Cris Silva
  13. Thaïs Lips
  14. Marion Rhodes
  15. Mery Molenaar
  16. Jennifer Nielsen (current)

(We’d be happy to list all past board members, but at this point, we do not have complete records of everyone who has served. If you’d like to help us compile a complete list, please email any information you might have to gro.bew-atc@rotanidroocaidem, and we will collect the information for a potential update in the future.)

Written by Marion Rhodes and updated by Mery Molenaar. This article was originally published in 2013 as a blog post, and last updated in September 2020.