Our Board

Ana Soler - 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.

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.

Marifer Saiger 

Marifer leads the Language Access Services Department at Portland Public Schools. She believes that language access and language justice are key components to racial equity and that the strategic use of language can reshape the narratives of traditionally marginalized groups and ultimately transform systems. Her expertise includes the implementation of multilingual communications, outreach and engagement practices aimed at developing trust and fostering dialogue/cooperation among linguistically diverse communities and institutions. Marifer holds a law degree and a post-graduate certificate from Mexico. She is the recipient of the 2021 Language Access Visionary Award, a national recognition to outstanding dedication, profound work, and impact in the area of language access in a school district issued by the National Association of Educational Translators and Interpreters of Spoken Languages.

Jeannette Houchens

Jeannette has been an interpreter and translator for over 20 years starting her career in her native country of Colombia. After moving to the US, she continued her professional development achieving accreditations as a Certified Medical Interpreter (CMI-Spanish), State Certified Court Interpreter and ATA Certified Translator. She is the founder and president of HIT Services, an organization that provides interpretation, translation, and training services aimed to create awareness of the role that meaningful language access and cultural competency play in our community, and to support interpreters in improving their qualifications and skills. Throughout her career she has had the opportunity to work in different fields such as health care, human services, and court, specializing for many years in women and children sexual abuse cases. In recent years, Jeannette has focused her work on the area of education, creating training materials both for interpreters and school districts and leading an experienced team of interpreters and translators in helping school districts create and maintain diverse and inclusive environments.

Stephanie MacIntosh

Stephanie is the co-founder of NTC Language Services and has 15 years of experience supervising Translation and Multilingual Outreach activities in the educational field. Her roles have included recruiting quality personnel, training staff, and providing direct services to speakers of over forty different languages. Stephanie's passion is connecting with her community and empowering the clientele that she serves.

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.

Our Team

Romina Espinosa

Romina Espinosa (Lima, Peru) is a professional Spanish<>English interpreter and small business owner based in San Diego, California. She has been providing language services since 2017. Romina holds a BA in International Studies from University of California San Diego and a minor in Spanish Literature completed at the University of Granada, and an MA in Gender and Diversity Studies from University of Oviedo. She furthered her interdisciplinary studies by completing a Certificate in Translation and Interpretation (Spanish/English) from University of California San Diego Extension. Ms. Espinosa is recognized in the United States as a Certified Healthcare Interpreter-Spanish through the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters (CCHI). Her areas of expertise include: conference, community (including special education), immigration, medical, and mental health interpreting. When Romina is not interpreting, she spends her time running outdoors (a 5 time international marathon runner), being creative through acrylic painting or writing poetry, or being present for her loved ones. 

Juanita Halepas

Ms. Halepas has been a State Certified Court Interpreter for over 12 years. She worked full time for the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch from 2009 until 2019. During her time with the state, she also acted as a mentor to upcoming court interpreters in the Interpreter and Translator Services Unit Mentoring Program, the purpose of which was to guide prospect court interpreters to successful certification. Additionally she contributed in the translation of legal documents and participated in organizing the state yearly workshops for court interpreter training for the CT Judicial Branch. She was involved as the editor of Intraconnect, the interpreter’s department newsletter of the Judicial Branch. She holds a certification from the National Center for State Courts, NCSC, in Court Interpretation, a certificate in Medical Interpretation from Central Connecticut State University as well as a certification from the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters, CCHI, and a certificate from the Southern California School of Interpretation for Interpretation in Immigration Court. In the last year, Ms. Halepas has become an active member of the National Association of Educational Translators and Interpreters of Spoken Languages, NAETISL. Her objective is to guide bilingual individuals interested in working as interpreters in navigating the steps needed to achieve court, medical and/or educational interpreting certification as well as creating awareness on the importance of the interpreting profession.

Sebastian Soler

Sebastian designed our website and logo and has provided technical support to NAETISL since its onset. He is responsible for editing educational videos for NAETISL members to practice interpretation skills and informational videos for stakeholders to highlight the impact of interpreters. Sebastian maintains our NAETISL’s YouTube Channel and has created and expanded our social media reach through Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. 

Taylor Svete

As a Marketing and Project intern for NAETISL, Taylor writes articles about language justice and the role of spoken language interpreters and translators in K-12 settings, and supports the work of NAETISL with various projects and administrative activities. The mission of NAETISL is incredibly important to Taylor as a lifelong advocate for social justice, sharing the passion and enthusiasm of all our members for ensuring equitable access for students and their families in K-12 education, regardless of gender, cultural and linguistic background, or their level of proficiency in English. Taylor graduated from Georgia State University Honors College with a Bachelor's in History in May 2021. She is fluent in English and Spanish, learning Arabic, and can speak, read, and write in Brazilian Portuguese at an intermediate conversational level.  

Yashua Evans

Yashua has a wealth of experience in computer programming and computer engineering. He has successfully developed websites, mobile apps, and hardware technologies. Yashua supports NAETISL with his problem-solving skills, tenaciousness, creativity, and affability.  He is responsible for creating and maintaining our NAETISL Member website, developing member profiles and promoting innovative resources for our stakeholders. 

Grecia Cruz

Grecia has been an educational interpreter since she graduated in 2013 and has an avid interest in anything related to language. She is a graduate of the Arkansas Bilingual Interpreter Credential in Education and has collaborated with teachers, parents, and ESOL coordinators in Northeast Arkansas. Grecia has lived in Northeast Arkansas most of her life, except for a few years when her family lived in Mexico. There, during her teenage years, she built a strong background in the Spanish language competing in grammar and orthography contests. Ever since returning to the U.S., she has been involved in supporting language access in her community. Currently, Grecia supports NAETISL in the role of Resource Development Coordinator producing resources for translators, interpreters, school staff, and emergent bilingual families including informational and training videos. 

Daniel Sanabria-Morales

Hailing from Bogotá, Colombia, and drawing from a wealth of experiences and travels, Daniel Sanabria-Morales draws endless love, inspiration and pride from his amazing and neurodivergent children. Currently a Linguistic Human Rights Advocate and Activist residing in Washington, DC, Daniel holds a Master of Science degree in Translation (Spanish-English) from New York University, as well as a Dual Bachelors in Humanities and International Studies from Thomas Edison State University. Daniel considers that the path to advocacy and activism aimed at improving language rights across the planet began during his years of Active Duty service in the United States Marine Corps, where he had the opportunity to serve in Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, and to visit an array of countries along the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and the Indian subcontinent. Although he is also fluent in French, he wishes there were enough hours in the day and days in the week to learn even more languages! His military decorations and campaign ribbons include three awards of the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, as well as the Korean Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary and Service medals, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Humanitarian Service Medal.