Meet Our Board
We are English Learners, School Administrators, Teachers, Interpreters, Translators, Parents, Caregivers, Language Justice Advocates
Ana Soler, BSW, MPH, Ph.D in Special Education Student - Chairperson
Ana has been a curriculum developer, interpreter, translator, and trainer for over 25 years. She has authored curricula nationally including the Intercultural Parent and Youth Leadership Program, the Interpretation Academy for Bilingual High School Students, the Arkansas Interpreter Credential in Education course, a 40-hour certification preparation course for medical interpreters, and various online courses for the University of Georgia, including the Professional Interpreter in Education Certificate course and the Professional Interpreter in Special Education Certificate course, which she currently teaches. Her Ph.D. research interests include the intersection of ableism and linguicism and its effects on emergent bilingual students, and the impact of untrained interpreters on family participation in the fulfillment of inclusive education. She remains an active medical and educational interpreter and translator.
John Botero, Vice-Chair
John is the Program Manager of the Office of Court Professionals for the Judicial Council / Administrative Office of the Courts. He oversees the administrative process for the Commission on Interpreters of the Supreme Court of Georgia, the Board of Court Reporting, and the Standing Committee on Court Reporting Matters of the Judicial Council of Georgia. John worked with the Judicial Branch of the State of Connecticut first as an Interpreter and then as a Court Clerk. He graduated from Pace University’s Dyson College of Arts and Science with a Master of Public Administration and obtained his Bachelor of Arts from the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2006. John brought the knowledge of this profession to his current role, where he seeks to improve equal access to justice.
Dr. Rita Brusca-Vega, Board Member
Rita is a Professor Emeritus at Purdue University Northwest, and began her teaching career serving students with mild and intense special education needs. She has worked as an inclusion consultant in addition to having over 30 years in higher education. Rita is a frequent presenter on special education issues, a successful grant writer, and past director of multiple federally-funded projects that have ranged from preparing bilingual and ESL teachers and paraprofessionals to become special educators, to serving students with intense needs and co-teaching in science classrooms. She is past chair and active member of the Illinois State Board of Education’s Joint Subcommittee on Bilingual Special Education. Rita has recently written about universal design for learning in the text, Universal Access Through Inclusive Instructional Design: International Perspectives on UDL. She is currently co-founder and consultant at EdPractices, a teacher support organization.
Dr. Jennifer Pendergrass, Board Member
Jennifer is an elementary ESOL teacher and Coordinator of ESOL Professional Learning for Floyd County Schools, GA. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Deaf education at Ball State University, her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction at University of Phoenix, her ESOL endorsement at Northwest Georgia RESA, and her doctorate in teacher leadership at Walden University. Jennifer published her doctoral thesis, “Increasing the Vocabulary Acquisition Rate for Third Grade English Learners” in 2017. GATESOL In Action published her manuscript, “Cultivating Respectful Classroom Discourse in Trump’s America” in 2017 as well. She was selected by the Conferences Professional Council (CPC) of TESOL International to be the Poster Sessions Team Leader for the 2019 TESOL International Convention & English Language Expo. Jennifer served two years as GATESOL Regional Liaison for Regions 1 and 2. She is the current President of GATESOL.
Jessica Sanchez, Treasurer
Jessica is an Arkansas Bilingual Interpreter Credentialed in Education. Living in Arkansas has definitely brought many communication challenges to parents as LEP’s. Seeing their struggle has opened her eyes to the great need for qualified interpreters, as well as being a parent and having to navigate through therapists, psychologists and early intervention teams. Jessica has worked in her local school district for the last 3 years, as a Special Education Interpreter and Translator. Previous to interpretation in the educational field, she worked as a medical assistant and Interpreter, focusing in pediatrics for the first 3 years, followed by 3 years in pediatric mental health. Her goal is to provide parents, guardians, community members with the information and tools they need to aid their children to success, through clear and concise interpretation and translation.
Flor Castellanos, Secretary
Flor is the Founder & Director of Speakworthy - an interpreter training organization. Prior to Speakworthy, Flor earned a graduate degree in Educational Psychology from UT Austin & ran an interpreter training program for a non-profit. She has worked with asylum-seekers in detention centers in the US & with refugees in camps and schools abroad.
These experiences gave her a passion for the international community, and led her to working as an interpreter & interpreter trainer. Her interpreting work has specialized in the field of victim services with survivors of torture. She is an advocate of language justice and passionate about training others to leverage their language skills.
Maria Leyva, Board Member
Maria is an experienced interpreter and translator in education settings. She completed her Bachelor's degree in Mexico. She has been a Davis, CA resident for the last 20 years and has worked for 10 years in Cesar Chavez Elementary School in Davis, CA as a paraeducator (bilingual). She is also a Library Technician at Harper Jr. High and Interpreter for Davis School District. Maria has a passion for family empowerment and has participated in the creation of English Learner Parent Councils in her state.
Édgar Hidalgo García, Board Member
Édgar is the Director & Lead Instructor of TransInterpreting. For 10 years, he was the Academic Coordinator of Cal State Fullerton’s Legal Interpretation Program and a former instructor at UC Riverside’s Court Interpreter Training Program. He completed his Bachelor’s in Translation & Interpretation Studies at California State University, Long Beach and his Master’s in Spanish at California State University, Fullerton. He initially became a Certified California State Medical Interpreter and worked as a Staff Interpreter for Long Beach Memorial Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Orange County. After becoming Certified by the Judicial Council of California as a Court Interpreter, he worked as a Staff Interpreter for the County of San Bernardino for 9 years and as a freelancer for 6 years.
Meet Our Founding Members
María de la Sota - GA
Professional Interpreter/Translator in Education
Dr. Rhonda Miller - SC
Assistant Professor of Special Education
Carolina Garrido - TX
Maribel Hernandez - TX
Translation and Interpretation Specialist
María Alicia Calzado Aguilera - NY
Professional Interpreter in Special Education, BM and Facilitator
Beatriz Gaxiola-Brown - NC
Dual Role Interpreter
Mauricio Dangond - CA
Special Education District Interpreter/Translator
Yazmin Aceves - IL
María Ceballos-Wallis - GA
GA/FL State Certified Spanish/English Court Interpreter/Trainer GODR Bilingual Licensed Mediator Producer/PGA AP Council
Fabiola Tortajada - NM
Language Access Coordinator
Nancy Ruoff Tubbs - VA
Coordinator of the Education Law Project at Legal Services of Northern Virginia
Diana Spangler - GA
Collaborative Educational Advocate
Mei Yan Lin - CA
Mandarin Interpreter and Translator
Elizabeth Watkins - MN
Special Education Diversity Consultant
Mónica Villalobos-Russell - CO
Professional Translator, Interpreter and Interculturalist, CO