Meet the CTA Board Candidates: James F. (Jim) McMillan

By Marion Rhodes
CTA Social Media Director

January 31, 2014

Jim McMillan is running for the position of vice president in the election for the 2014-2016 CTA Board. Jim is an ATA-certified Spanish into English translator and interpreter specializing in legal, business and international development topics. He has been a full-time translator and interpreter since 2008 with his wife Luisa.


Marion Rhodes: How long have you been a CTA member, and what made you decide to run for office as a member of the Board of the Colorado Interpreters & Translators Association?

Jim McMillan: I have been a CTA member for the last 5 years or so, and joined when my wife and I decided to formalize our translation work into a business. We were new transplants to Colorado and had very few local connections. We found a lot of support, advice and friendship in the CTA members, and began getting contacted for work almost as soon as we put our profile up on the CTA website. Knowing that an organization is only as strong as its members, I have felt an obligation to give something back to the extent I can.

MR: Where would you like to take CTA in the next years?

JM: We have so much to build on, and one challenge is to do so in a focused manner. My particular interests lie in better understanding and serving our members’ needs for professional and business development, adapting best practices and lessons learned from other ATA chapters to our way of doing things, and exploring/developing mentoring opportunities for emerging professionals in our region to connect with experienced translators.

MR: What challenges is CTA facing along the way?

JM: Like all associations, we must always keep an eye on remaining relevant to our members’ needs, and one good way to do that is to bring in appropriate knowledge and experience from outside the organization to share with our members. Technological advances in tools present challenges to pricing models for some while opening up opportunities for new business and efficiency for others, and we are not all in the same place regarding issues such as Machine Translation. I’d like CTA to help its members understand and navigate the changing technological landscape we face. And there is still a lot of room for outreach to the Colorado business community to build understanding about our profession and facilitate engagement.

MR: In your opinion, what should CTA do to retain its members and attract new ones, particularly young language professionals?

JM: We already do so many things well and are blessed to have a very collegial relationship among our members. As long as we continue to offer value and opportunities for development to our membership, we will be attractive as an association. I believe that development of a formal mentoring program can also encourage young professionals to join and remain in the association. We can continue and expand our social networking as both a member enrichment and development tool. Referral programs offering a modest discount to members who bring others to the association can also help to boost our numbers.

MR: Can you talk more about your vision for a mentoring program within CTA?

JM: ATA has a mentoring program and I would like to explore how we can implement that at a local level. This can both provide opportunities for new translators to learn from more experienced peers, but also raise the bar of professionalism in our craft and demonstrate to potential clients and partners that we promote best practices and continuing development. With our new ATA chapter status on the one hand, and our proximity to professional academic programs in universities, this seems a natural progression to me.

MR: Being a Board member, your three primary roles are ambassador, advocate and asker. Which area is your greatest strength, and how do you plan to leverage it as a member of the CTA Board?

JM: These are all very related roles and I don’t see myself as being one at the expense of the others. If I had to point out a strength I think it would be as an advocate, because I really believe in the value of our association, having experienced it firsthand in my own professional growth. It is a precious gem that deserves strong stewardship and promotion. As a board member, and acting in concert with the other board members, I will be able to open doors and gain access to individuals and organizations who can help us advance the association. My passion based on experience makes me a persuasive champion.

MR: How would you define CTA’s role with regard to the translation profession in general?

JM: I think our mission statement phrases it succinctly. My own version of it goes something like this: We exist to promote the professional development of our members and broaden their access to business opportunities and knowledge that promotes the highest standards of excellence and tradecraft.

MR: Tell us something interesting about yourself.

JM: I was an exchange student to Colombia after high school and lived with my wife’s family for a year while she was on an exchange program to the U.S. It took 20 years after that for us to reconnect and get married. Some things are worth waiting for!

MR: Is there anything else that you would like to add?

JM: We are at a wonderful time of opportunity for the CTA and I am excited about contributing to carry forward the excellent work begun by many others. Our collegiality is a precious commodity that we must nurture and carry outward to others so that all our fortunes may rise.