Today marks the last day of operations for InterpretAmerica. Founded in 2009 by Katharine Allen and Barry Slaughter Olsen, the organization served as an open forum to champion the profession of foreign language interpreting. Over the past 12 years, it hosted multiple conferences of its own as well as partnered with the Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) on its Think! series events. Allen and Slaughter Olsen marked the end of their tenure at 11 am Eastern with a memoriam of sorts — a 90 minute conference call celebrating the group’s advocacy efforts.
For those outside the language industry, InterpretAmerica’s best known work may be the video it produced for American business magazine Wired, showing how interpreters do their jobs. While the explainer focused primarily on interpreters working at the United Nations or in other political environments, it did review crucial differences between simultaneous and consecutive interpreting, as well as other basics of the profession.
When asked about their personal favorite projects, though, both Allen and Slaughter Olsen cite Lenguas, a Mexican conference series Slaughter Olsen says “recognize[d] interpreters in conflict zones and the inclusion of so many indigenous interpreters in our activities as peers and colleagues.”
“What really triggered this [closure] was a radical change in my career path,” Slaughter Olsen explains, “In May of 2020 I accepted a position as VP of Client Success at KUDO,” a multilingual web conferencing platform. Allen says she then took “time to decide whether to stay on with InterpretAmerica as a solo effort or maybe with a new partner,” opting to close in the end. Resources presently on the InterpretAmerica website and YouTube channel will remain online indefinitely.
Speakers at today event included interpreting industry leaders from GALA, Certified Languages International, Cross-Cultural Communications, the Coalition of Practicing Translators and Interpreters in California (CoPTIC), the American Translators Association (ATA), and others.