6th Annual CTA Conference

by Outgoing President Thaïs Lips 

Does This Look Like the Venue

of the 6th Annual CTA Conference?

CTA 6th Annual Conference
Photo by Honorary Member Virginia Fox – NCAR scenic views

This is where 80 translators from all over the US and some other parts of the world gathered for the CTA 6th Annual Conference – Colorado Interpreters & Translators Association – April 22-24, 2016, in order to benefit from highly specialized sessions and intensive networking.

CTA 6th Annual Conference
by Mari – The main seminar room holds up to 110 people.

The event was held at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) –  Boulder Mesa Lab. Designed by Architect I.M. Pei, the building is nestled in the wild  of the Boulder Flatirons, at the end of a steep road  overlooking the Boulder Valley. Winding trails, deer, fawns, and irises blooming are part of the scenic views that one sees from the glass walls of the Mesa Lab comfortable conference rooms with fine modern décor, Wi-Fi, and electrical outlets for everyone’s laptops.

Continental breakfast and coffee breaks are served in the mezzanine next to the main seminar room.

CTA 6th Annual Conference
Courtesy of Sameh Ragab

This is where sponsors exhibit their products, and the career fair offers translators new opportunities.

CTA 6th Annual Conference
Photos by Thaïs Lips

Lunch is served buffet-style in the NCAR cafeteria, which opens up to a sunny terrace where one can enjoy a meal outdoors on a pleasant spring day.

An optional  30-minute after-lunch hike has quickly become a tradition at the CTA conferences.

CTA 6th Annual Conference
Happy Hour at St. Julien – Courtesy of Sameh Ragab


            AT A GLANCE

The conference began with the American Translators Association (ATA) certification exam on Friday afternoon, this year proctored by Corinne McKay.

It was followed by a happy hour with live music at the St. Julien Hotel in Boulder to kick off the event and to welcome the 80 attendees in a friendly and casual way. CITA is known for its warmth; no matter how old or new you are to the association, one feels always at home.


Corinne opened the conference and annual meeting, reminding us how CTA’s conferences got started in 2010, when she was CTA president,  with the help of David Russi. David, who works at NCAR, has served as our faithful liaison and sponsor, thus ensuring that CTA could use NCAR’s privileged facilities for the last six years because this venue is not otherwise easily available for events.


CTA 6th Annual Conference
President Marion Rhodes, Outgoing Secretary Rachel Sinn, Outgoing President Thaïs Lips – Courtesy of Virginia Fox

It was time for the 2014 – 2016 board to say good-bye. As the outgoing president, I know that I will miss my work at CTA. However, I was glad to pass it on to newly elected President Marion Rhodes, who had worked with me as vice president, and whom I believe to be the best president to continue our work, and to take it to higher levels, together with Vice President Rosabelle White-Rice, Treasurer Michelle Bradley, and Secretary Katja Yeats. The election committee, Eve Bodeux and Cris Silva, did a great job interviewing candidates for a selected ballot.


Outgoing Secretary and Event Planner Rachel Sinn recognized our highly valued sponsors: The University of Denver (DU), New York University (NYU), the Certification Commission for Health Care Interpreters (CCHI),  the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA),  Payment Practices, and Multilingual Magazine, which granted attendees a free one-year online subscription.   The career fair was supported by corporate members Beatriz Bonnet of Syntes, Steve Lank and Giovanna Contreras of Cesco, and Geoff Norby of Global Accent Translations. In attendance from Germany was Bianca Blüchel, our webinars partner of Academia Webinars.  Certified attendees were granted  continuing education credits from ATA, CCHI, and IMIA.


CTA 6th Annual Conference
Tess Whitty

Our keynote sponsor was the University of Denver College of Translation Studies, represented by Chris Heriza, who introduced Tess Whitty, well known for her Marketing Cookbook for Translators. Tess was handpicked to awaken the marketing spirit that all of us should have as independent professionals. She delivered a keynote speech on Future-Proofing Your Translation Business.



CTA 6th Annual Conference
Karen Tkaczyk – by Sameh Ragab
CTA 6th Annual Conference
Ted Wozniak – by Thaïs Lips

On Saturday, there was a total of 12 sessions, three for each time slot. The crème de la crème of our industry presented, and there was no shortage of professional development information. Karen Tkaczyk, Ph.D., delivered great content and performance on Creating a Compatible Customer Base within the Language Services Industry; Jane Maier presented on Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Spanish-English ATA Certification Exam. Sameh Ragab, ISO 1700 Lead Auditor, came all the way from Egypt delighted the audience with his Automating Termbase Creation presentation; Andie Ho, from Texas, gave us an insider’s view on what goes on Inside the Mind of a Project Manager: Common Questions and Concerns; and Ted Wozniak came from New Orleans to talk about Vetting Clients – How to Use Payment Practices and Other Sources to Prevent Late or Non-Payment. Julie Tay, the clinical assistant professor with NYU’s School of Professional Studies, elaborated on Who Translates What? Subjectivity and Social Purpose in Translation.


Every time slot had one session dedicated specifically for interpreters.

Giovanna Contreras and Steve Lank from Washington, D.C., headed a discussion on Project What You Want to Reflect: The Importance of Strong Professional Identity in the Marketplace. Natalya Mytareva, managing director of CCHI, and Alejandro Maldonado came from Ohio to share the National Job Task Analysis of the Healthcare Interpreter Profession. Dr. Lizbeth Mendoza, MD, the IMIA Colorado co-chair, presented a three-hour workshop on Essential Pharmacotherapy Concepts and Terminology Applied to Medication Reconciliation for Medical/Healthcare Interpreters.

CTA 6th Annual Conference
Eve Bodeux, Tess Whitty, Corinne McKay – by Sameh Ragab


The day ended with a cheese and wine reception in conjunction with three book signings featuring: Corinne McKay’s How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator (3rd edition), Eve Bodeux’s Maintaining Your Second Language: Practical and Productive Strategies for Translators, Teachers, Interpreters and Other Language Lovers, and Tess Whitty’s The Marketing Cookbook for Translators. 

It was followed by more networking at an optional dinner held at the local Boulder brewery Under the Sun.


In the morning, Tess Whitty taught on how to Create Focus and Simplify Your Marketing Efforts with a Marketing Plan for Your Translation Business.

In the afternoon, editorial expert Alice Levine delivered a must-attend session for professional translators titled It’s All About Style: Creating Consistent Documents for Clients.


We started planning the conference about nine months before the event. It is a labor of love. Below is set forth the itemized conference preparation and execution.


During planning season, CTA conference planners communicate with each other through a dedicated Facebook group. We all use the same IMAP-configured email, gro.bew-atc@stneveatc, to communicate with the other people involved regarding all the conference affairs such as speakers, sponsors, service providers, so that all board members always know what is going on and can help each other to address outside questions.

The conference was efficiently promoted on most social media channels and the CTA blog, by means of session blurbs and two-minute teaser videos some of the speakers had prepared.

by Thaïs Lips


Every year, we design a different layout for the conference to help determine posters. This is creative, fun, and engages all board members.


Our website www.cta-web.org is not only the core of our year-round management, but it also controls the whole conference, thus generating precise information for organizing future conferences, and a legacy for future boards. The website is well designed and works like a well-oiled machine.

When we designed our new CTA WordPress website, we made sure it would self-manage most of the conference. Some of the features are personalized email broadcasts and an uploadable program with a registration form linked to PayPal. The registration form offers several different rate options: participants can choose to attend one day or both days of the conference as a member, non-member, corporate member, or student. It also provides lunch options, e.g. vegetarian and gluten-free dishes.

CTA 6th Annual Conference
Badges are auto-originated from the online registration plugin

The attendance badges are also self-generated according to participants’ registration details.

In order to be eco-friendly and save a lot of our volunteer time, we do not print full programs, bios or handouts; everything is available online, because, at NCAR, Wi-Fi is everywhere. Presentations are available online, after the conference. Conference evaluations are also conducted through our website.


A plugin on the website issues a personalized certificate of attendance, provided participants complete an evaluation that is available at our website and is composed of two parts. The first part consists of grading the event, price, venue, registration, and information processes, all of which are rated on a five-point scale with a field for extra comments. The second part, using the same format, allows users to evaluate each individual session. The plugin provides results in graphic and text form. We are always happy to read the comments, send them individually to the speakers, and use the participants’ suggestions to improve the following year’s conference.


  • Some key nuggets of wisdom provided and a broad arc touching on some very important issues in the industry.
  • Andy has great presentation skills. She presented the information in a relaxed and sometimes funny way! Really enjoyed this one!
  • It was very useful, as I am contemplating doing this at some point. Jane did a fantastic job, and her experience, plus her knowledge, made her presentation excellent.
  • Karen Tkaczyk delivered a great content with excellence.
  • Having worked with both Steve and Giovanna, I know they are excellent, and I would have gone even if there wasn’t something more pertinent to my work because they are both wonderful.
  • I LOVED Sameh’s presentation. It was truly excellent in all meanings of that work: content, presentation skills, and visuals. Sam is a natural speaker and very engaging. He obviously knows the topic backward and forward, had meticulously prepared his presentation and has wonderful visuals (the onscreen materials). 
  • Ted Wozniak’s Payment Practices was explained to details, so people understand the need to subscribe to this excellent service.
  • Mendonza is very proficient in the field and provided good resources for smartphones.
  • Alice Levine is solid, good, and very nice. You should call her again.
  • Alice Levine’s was my favorite session! I’m glad I attended.

And about the conference in general:

  • The conference was great in all respects! Excellent presenters and the logistics were seamless!
  • I would like to have had a field to eval the optional events, like the Happy Hour and Under the Sun. I liked them both. The hotel was a much better choice than last year.
  • Great location, great organization, great opportunities for learning.
  • It was a joy to connect with colleagues.
  • Great conference! Can’t wait for the next one!


A very special acknowledgment to Secretary and Event Planner Rachel Sinn for her great rapport and PR with sponsors, career fair providers, and speakers.

Thank you, board, for your teamwork and dedication delivering the CTA 6th Annual Conference.

Thank you, members, that presented and recommended speakers.

Thank you, sponsors and career fair providers.

Thank you, the 80 people who honored and attended the conference.

Thank you, Marion, for inviting me to write this article.

I leave the CTA board with a great feeling of accomplishment and  honor for having helped to organize four CTA conferences.

I am sure that led by President Marion Rhodes, the new board will make the CTA 2017 Annual Conference another great success.

CTA 6th Annual Conference
Group photo with some of the attendees