Celebrating Leadership: Turning Passion into Action
Ball State Teacher’s College, Muncie, Indiana, 1964: a small group of American Sign Language interpreters and Deaf professionals come together to turn their passion into action. These leaders instigated the birth of a national organization for interpreters in the United States and the beginning of the professionalization of the signed language interpreting field. These leaders are recognized for their contributions, their actions, and their accomplishments.
In the ensuing fifty years there have been many leaders in the profession that have selflessly stepped forward and given of their time and energy to further advance the profession of signed language interpreting. As a result, there are now affiliate chapters of the national organization in the U.S. (the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf) in almost every state and national professional organizations in many countries who cater to the professional development needs of their members and establish ethical and professional standards of conduct that guide our behavior. These leaders have ushered in the advent of credentialing for interpreters, professional standards for interpreters, and education for interpreters up to the PhD level. Some of these leaders are readily recognizable by name and by their contributions and successes. But, most of them are unknown and unrecognized. Their contributions, their actions, their accomplishments are enjoyed by all in the profession. Yet, their stories remain untold.
The faculty in the Master of Arts in Interpreting Studies at Western Oregon University and the cohort of students that began the program in June of 2013 embarked on a project to recognize leaders that have made an impact on the profession but whom remain under the radar of most practitioners that benefit from their actions. That project has resulted in this manuscript in which we get to tell their stories. Each student chose a person who they felt had made major contributions to advance the profession as well as being a contributor to our own professional development and practice as interpreters. We interviewed these leaders in order to gain an understanding of what it takes to turn passion into action. We tell their stories here; stories of grass roots activism in local communities to stories of global collaboration, stories of overcoming obstacles to stories of challenging the status quo, stories of giving back to the community to stories of taking the lead, stories of building bridges to stories of effecting positive change.
We hope that readers will join us in celebrating and honoring the contributions of these leaders whose stories are finally being told here and whose ability to turn passion into action has resulted in the profession that we enjoy today. We also hope that readers will be inspired by these now told stories to turn their own passion into action.