Spanish Language Division:
2002 Candidate Statements

Rudy Heller

Candidate for Administrator

Being nominated and designated Administrator of the SPD two years ago was an honor for me. I say designated because, as many of you will remember, two years ago, in Orlando, I was the only candidate. Fortunately, Virginia Perez-Santalla agreed to join me as Assistant Administrator, as did Millie Suazo Martínez as Treasurer and Marshall Morris as Secretary. I could not have lasted these two years without the able support and help of these three colleagues, as well as many, many others on our “team”.

All things considered, it’s been a great ride, with ups and downs (as had been predicted). But the ups definitely have predominated, so much so, that Virginia, Millie, Marshall and I all have decided that we’d like to continue for another two years. This first term involved a steep learning curve of getting acclimated, learning where to get help, which issues to confront and which to ignore, and how to read the budget. Thus, we feel that we are going into the next two years in a strong position to be able to move the SPD forward.

Even with the learning curve, we have already accomplished some great things. Here is a quick run down of the “state of the division”:

  1. Our quarterly newsletter, Intercambios, is on track. The issues are coming out on time, and the content is substantial. Pilar Saslow continues to edit this primary vehicle for division news. Anyone wishing to contribute an article should be encouraged to write to We have instituted an electronic version of Intercambios in order to allocate our money in a more productive manner. A year and a half ago, printing and mailing Intercambios was 30% of our budget. If we mailed hard copies to all members now, it would be an even larger chunk, due to increases in printing and mailing costs, and in membership numbers. For most members, the e-mail pdf version is just as handy and arrives a lot sooner. Remember, if you would prefer to receive by snail mail, you just need to call Mary at ATA (703-683-6100 x 3009) or better yet, write to I recommend printing Intercambios as soon as it arrives. But whatever you choose to do, do read it! The last few issues have been hot, hot, hot!

  2. We have instituted an SPD dinner at conventions. This is a friendly, cost effective and “sabroso” way to get together and network. The hotel typically charges a lot for a little. On the other hand, by making the effort to plan and organize an off-site dining adventure, we not only save money, but also get to savor a bit of the local ambience and cuisine. LA was a great success, thanks to Alicia Gordon who scouted out the great El Floridita.

  3. We have a balanced budget! We will present a full breakdown of both sides of the ledger during the Annual SPD Meeting in Atlanta in November, but for the moment, suffice it to say that we have an enviable $22K in the bank.

  4. We held our first SPD conference in January 2002, something that SPD has been talking about doing for many years. And we even tried something daring – an excursion on the high seas. Speakers were outstanding, food was abundant, the weather was great, and the networking was fabulous. We also produced a CD of the presentations, so those unable to attend can share the experience. The initial order of 1st Annual Conference CDs sold out … but we will have more available for purchase in Atlanta. Stop by the ATAware booth and pick one up if you missed our offer earlier this year.

    The organizing committee outdid themselves to make our first conference the success it was. To wit, we are following up with the second SPD Conference, this time to be held on tierra firme in San Antonio, TX the weekend of April 26-27, 2003. Do not miss it

  5. Espalista, our listserv, is going strong as ever. It continues to be an excellent forum for any kind of translation or interpreting “consulta”, with the occasional controversial battle. Ultimately these make us stronger. It is a magnificent tool for every single one of us, whether we are new in the profession or a wizened old veteran. The “tomatazos” are nowhere near as frequent as they once were, but the exchanges are a great and entertaining learning tool. Tomás Mansella and Ester Cabral are managing things admirably as Moderators. By the way, being one of a team of moderators for a 6-month term is a great way to get more actively involved in the Division. And the more active you are, the more you will get from your membership; take it from one who has tried it and found it to be true!

  6. What can I say about the SPD’s website? Hundreds of links that will solve just about any translation problem that you may face, going in either direction. Advice on taxes, galleries of SPD events and individual pictures SPD members, showing off or just being themselves. Easy to use, comprehensive, entertaining. Kudos to Rosalie Wells, who has done a great job. If is not on your the favorites list, you are missing a great resource.

  7. Convention preparations for Atlanta are in full swing. As mentioned before, we have people checking out local restaurants for our SPD dinner. We will again have a raffle dazzle giveaway of professional tools. And, last but not least, we have a very comprehensive and varied slate of speakers covering literary, legal, economic, chemistry, taxation, plus excellent pre-conference seminars, including one by Emilio Bernal Labrada of the Academia Norteamericana de la Lengua Española. Make your reservations for Atlanta NOW!

Given all of the great goings-on, as listed above, the present board wishes to experience another two years of this madness. Here are a few added things that I can envision for the next two years:

  • A “members only” section to the SPD web site with special feature

  • More top-of-the-line speakers for the ATA Conventions and perhaps Regional SPD meetings to bring local speakers to your area to feed your thirst for knowledge and personal improvement.

  • Creation of better ways to network among members – Your ideas, please!

  • Encourage the formation of Spanish Interest Groups (Spansigs) in areas of the country where there are no ATA chapters or other translation/interpretation organizations, and even within existing groups.

  • Initiation of a mentoring program within the SPD, modeled perhaps after the ATA’s own successful pilot program.

And so, Rudy, Virginia, Millie and Marshall would like to repeat this adventure for two more years and ask you for your vote. Thank you for taking the time to read this and consider our candidacies. Please don’t hesitate to e-mail me ( if you have any questions, concerns or ideas about how to improve the SPD.

Thomas Mansella

Candidate for Administrator

Early in the 70’s, Thomas Mansella studied Hermeneutics and Greek language as a seminary student in Buenos Aires, Argentina, his native city. For more than twenty years much of his work involved translation and the interaction of language and cultural adaptations –or “localization plus”, as he is fond of saying. He worked in the translation of English textbooks, social science materials, religious books, and canon law into Spanish. His consulting work has allowed him to travel extensively in South and North America, Africa, and Europe. He has produced radio programs and has authored a collection of children’s books. Since 1987, he has made Arlington, Virginia, his home. After taking a sabbatical, and during one of those “aha-moments”, he decided to make translation a full-time occupation. Since late 1998, he has worked as the full-time Official Translator for Arlington Public Schools, Virginia. His job description includes translation of curricula, educational materials, and sensitive documents. He also coordinates the training of school-based staff involved in informal translations. In addition, he loves to do freelance work. He is a member of the Spanish Division and currently serves as Co-moderator of Espalista, its Listserv. He holds ATA accreditation in English>Spanish.

Mansella believes that “The age of Internet and globalization has brought dramatic changes to the profession, especially for the American free-lance translator.” However, “Changes are here to stay, and we should consider these changes as a crisis of opportunity.”

If elected, Mansella would like to see the SPD offer training geared to support and empower the free-lance translator and interpreter. He believes that there is a real need for training in areas of the new economy such as e-commerce, marketing, and even basic business education, along with traditional offerings such as terminology and other language issues. Contact:

Virginia Perez-Santalla

Candidate for Assistant Administrator

I’ve been an active, accredited member of the ATA since 1982. I was born and raised in Cuba where I attended a bilingual school since kindergarten. In the more than 20 years as a free-lance translator, I’ve acquired vast experience in many fields specializing in legal, financial, business and medical. I was also classified as Master Interpreter in New Jersey in 1989 and received federal certification in 1993. I am a mentor in the ATA´s mentorship pilot program.

I have been Assistant Administrator of the Division for the past two years. As such, I chaired the committee that organized our very successful inaugural conference held in January 2002. We had wonderful speakers that gave us interesting and educational presentations as was manifested by the attendees. In addition, the conference provided us with a wonderful opportunity to foster the camaraderie and sense of family that I feel should be an integral part of the Division. We are already hard at work organizing the 2003 SPD Conference in San Antonio, Texas that promises to be an even bigger success. As Assistant Administrator, I am again chair of the committee. I will dedicate my efforts to organize a conference that provides you with excellent learning opportunities as well as developing even more the sense of family that is already felt in our Division.

Together with the Administrator, I have worked hard and will continue working hard trying to provide you with good quality presentations at the ATA annual conference. I would like to see increased cooperation with our parent organization so we can find solutions that help our members in the U.S. as well as abroad in this era of globalization. I would like to hear about issues facing our members and try to find them answers. I hope you give me the opportunity to continue serving the Division as Assistant Administrator.

I would like to thank the Nominating Committee for having me in the slate. I would also like to thank all fellow Division members who have helped me achieve some of my dreams for the Spanish Language Division and who will keep on helping me make the Spanish Language Division more successful than ever.