UMTIA: Upper Midwest Translators & Interpreters Association, A Chapter of the ATA

Meet the Board

2019 UMTIA Executive Board

The Executive Board is a group of dedicated, passionate volunteers who are elected by the membership to oversee the business of the entire organization. The board consists of up to twelve members who serve two year terms, and in doing so, contribute many hours of time and effort to the organization. Each board member has a specific office to fulfill, such as secretary, treasurer or member at large, while representing the best interests of UMTIA members and running the association.The Executive Board is in charge of the governance, finances and decision making regarding the direction of the organization.

If you’re interested in helping to shape the field, and creating new opportunities for both yourself and your fellow colleagues to learn and connect, consider getting involved with the Executive Board.

On this page, you can find out more about the volunteers that make up the leadership team. Members are welcome to join the Executive Board for their monthly meeting. If you’d like to attend, please email info@umtia.org. You may also email us if you have an idea, question or issue you'd like the leadership team to consider. UMTIA is your association, and we need to hear from you to know what direction to take!

ISABEL MONTAÑEZ, PRESIDENT, 2020-2021 TERM

Isabel Montañez is from Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico. She graduated from the Interpreting/Translation Program University of Minnesota in 2009. She joined UMTIA right after graduation and became a member of the Executive Board. Isabel worked as a Medical Lab Technician for 20 years and was a freelancer with several interpreting agencies. In 2012, Isabel joined the Hennepin County Medical Center Interpreting Team full-time. Isabel continues serving the interpreting profession with UMTIA and hopes to make every interpreter part of UMTIA. Isabel is CCHI Spanish Certified, on the MN Legal Roster and an ATA Member.



AIDA AZZAZI, VICE PRESIDENT, 2019-2020 TERM

Aida Azzazi has worked as an interpreter in education since 2003. She is an interpreter and translator for the Minneapolis Public Schools District in the Special Education Department. She is assigned to 20 schools in grades K-12. She completed the University of Minnesota Program in Translation and Interpreting in 2017 and is also an ATA member. She has coordinated the ATA exam in Minneapolis for the past two years and also works as a Translation Project Manager for the Minnesota Translation Laboratory. In addition, she holds a BFA in Design from the Minneapolis College of Art & Design.



DAVID COATS, TREASURER, 2019-2020 TERM

David Coats has been a freelance translator since 1986, and is ATA-certified for German into English. Now retired from the field of psychotherapy, he worked for 37 years as a psychotherapist in public and private practice; including 18 years as a Social Worker in the field of civil commitments, working closely with the Probate Court and the medical system. Prior to obtaining his Master’s in Social Work, he studied engineering and sociology. He specializes in translation of highly technical material and patents, as well as medical and legal material.



PATRICIA CONTAG, SECRETARY, 2020-2021 TERM

I was born in Quito, Ecuador, where I obtained a degree in English, and worked as a school teacher and private tutor. Currently, I am certified by the American Translators Association as an English-Spanish translator and by the Commission for Healthcare Interpreters as medical interpreter. For the last 15 years, I’ve worked for Mayo Clinic both on-site and off-campus.




EVE MACLEISH, MEMBERSHIP DIRECTOR, 2020-2021 TERM

Eve MacLeish has worked as a medical interpreter since 2004, and at Childrens Hospitals & Clinics of MN since 2006. She completed the University of Minnesota’s TrIn certificate program in 2006. Eve produces a radio program of Latin music and culture, Corazon Latino, every Friday from 2-4 pm on KFAI Community Radio. She formerly resided in Merida, Venezuela, with her bicultural family for nearly 14 years.



MARY BARRERA, SECOND MEMBERSHIP DIRECTOR, 2020-2021 TERM

Mary was born and raised in Puebla, Mexico, where she worked as an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) instructor for over 7 years, and as a Cambridge Speaking Examiner for the University of Cambridge, UK. She completed The Community Interpreter training program in 2012 and has been working as a medical interpreter and translator since then. She is also currently working as an author writing EFL textbooks for Spanish-speaking students in Latin America. Mary is a member of the ATA and has collaborated with the Delaware Valley Translators Association as a guest author for the DVTA Blog.  She has an undergraduate degree in Applied Language Studies, and a Master of Science in Translation from New York University. Mary joined UMTIA because she believes it is necessary for interpreters and translators to have an association where they can advance the profession through education and training while also advocating for their rights and interests. She sees UMTIA as a vital space for interpreters and translators, where they can network, talk about common objectives and mutual interests, make their voices heard, and promote high standards of professional ethics and business practices within the fields. 


LUCÍA ABOLAFIA COBO, COMMITTEE LIAISON , 2019-2020 TERM

Lucía was born and raised in Jaén, Spain. She has a degree in Translation and Interpreting (French-English-Spanish) and a Masters in Immigration Law from the University of Granada. She is recognized by the European Union as a certified legal translator (French-Spanish).

Lucía has more than 10 years of experience as a medical and legal translator and interpreter and has worked internationally in both Europe and South America. In her free time, she teaches Spanish literature to adults.


MAURICIO MONTES DE OCA, MEDIA MANAGER , 2020-2021 TERM

Mauricio is from Mexico City and has been an interpreter for seventeen years.  He joined the medical interpreters team at the University of Minnesota Medical Center-Fairview 14 years ago.  Mauricio has been involved with UMTIA for over a decade and has volunteered for multiple organizations to support the interpreting community.  Mauricio also provides educational training sessions to hospital and clinic staff to help providers understand the role of the interpreter and to share ideas for how to better serve patients who require spoken or sign language interpreters. Mauricio is passionate about the development of the profession and has participated continuously in helping it grow.  He is nationally certified through CCHI and has participated with different organizations that focus on interpreter development.  He has been involved in the development of and the negotiations for promoting an Interpreter Bill that would meet patients’ and interpreters’ needs.


YVONNE ARAIZA, MEMBER-AT-LARGE, 2020-2021 TERM

Yvonne Araiza was born and raised in Mexico and attended Universidad Tecnológica del Norte de Guanajuato where she received an Associate of Arts degree in Commercialization. After relocating to the Twin Cities in 1998, she worked in different positions in Sales and Customer Service. In 2009 she switched career and enrolled in the Certificate Program in Translation and Interpreting at the University of Minnesota. In 2014 she became a Certified Healthcare Interpreter. Her professional experience has been as an in-house interpreter and as a freelancer.  She currently works at Intelligere as a Talent Acquisitions Specialist/Interpreter. One of her biggest interests is public policy and officially establishing the minimal requirements for spoken language Interpreters in the medical setting. Yvonne has been a member of UMTIA since 2010 and she frequently volunteers at UMTIA’s events. She has been part on the Board of Directors of ISG (2016-2017) and she has been involved in the drafting of the bill for spoken language Interpreters in the medical settings.



JUDITH CUSTODIO, MEMBER-AT-LARGE, 2020-2021 TERM

Judith Custodio has served as a volunteer interpreter since 1985 in her country of origin, Panama, as well as in Germany and the USA. She has worked for organizations such as the Youth Community Center in Fort Carson, the Colorado Springs Police Department, the AMWAY Corporation in Germany, Doctors for Global Health, and Schwan’s USA CUP International Youth Soccer Tournament in Minnesota. Ms. Custodio earned the Certificate in Interpreting at the Program for Translating and Interpreting at the University of Minnesota (2009), the Certificate in Medical Interpreting from the National Center for Interpretation at the University of Arizona (2011), and became a National Certified Medical interpreter (CMI) in 2012. Ms. Custodio earned her Associate in Applied Science in Interpreting and Translation degree from Century College in December 2016. She has also served as the Education Committee Chair of the Minnesota Interpreting Stakeholder Group (ISG). In addition, she is a volunteer founder of the Century College Translators and Interpreters’ Walk and Share in Minneapolis. Ms. Custodio is currently serving at the Minnesota State Chapter of the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA). She is committed to networking with interpreters, to share professional experiences and knowledge in the interpreting field, and to contribute to the enrichment of the physical, emotional and intellectual care of interpreters while providing the opportunity to build a network within the professional field.


KAZOUA YANG, MEMBER-AT-LARGE, 2020-2021 TERM

Kazoua Yang was one of the first two Hmong interpreters certified by the Minnesota Supreme Court in the country in 2000. Kazoua has been an interpreter for 29 years, specializing in legal and court interpreting.  She was a trainer with the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Wisconsin Supreme Court Interpreters Programs and she is currently a rater for the University of MN and Century College’s Translation and Interpreting Programs. Kazoua also taught the Legal Court Interpreting class at Century College. In addition, Kazoua interprets for the courts in Minnesota and throughout the country. Until opening her own interpreting agency, KZ Interpreting, LLC, four years ago, Kazoua was the Operations Supervisor for the Interpreter’s Office in the Second  Judicial District Ramsey County Court for 20 years, where she managed the Interpreters Office, conducted orientations for new judges, referees, magistrates, law clerks, and court staff on working with interpreters in the Courts. Kazoua has also presented at the Family Law Institute, for Clarion Legal CLE, Judges’ conference, the Public Defender’s Office, the City and County Attorneys Offices in Ramsey County, private law firms, and different Districts throughout the state of MN on the Hmong culture and working with interpreters in courts. Kazoua also serves as a consultant for the National Center for State Courts (Consortium), which certifies court interpreters throughout the country. She co-authored the first Hmong Legal Dictionary for the Wisconsin Supreme Court.


For a list of previous board members, see our Board Member History.


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