Notable Interpreters and Emerging Practitioners – Black History Month

LaTanya Jones, M.S.M., NIC

LaTanya is an interpreter with thirteen years of interpreting experience. She has worked in a plethora of professional settings, including video relay and video remote settings but her preference is healthcare interpreting.  At present, LaTanya is the Director of the Behavioral Health Program at the CATIE Center at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN. LaTanya is also an adjunct professor at both the Community College of Philadelphia and Camden County College.

A staunch, lifelong advocate for education, LaTanya earned an Associate in Applied Science in American Sign Language/English interpreting from the Community College of Philadelphia, a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the Fox School of Business at Temple University; continued her studies in ASL linguistics at Gallaudet University and earned a Master of Science in Management from Rosemont College. Currently, LaTanya is a graduate student at Widener University in a dual degree program pursuing a Master in Social Work (MSW)  and a Master in Education (MEd) in Human Sexuality.

LaTanya enjoys giving back by volunteering her time and talents. At present, LaTanya sits on the board of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf as the Member at Large; is the Immediate Past Region I Representative, and serves as the Immediate Past President of the Pennsylvania Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. In her free time, LaTanya enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.

What are your views on the importance of diversity in the sign language interpreting profession?

Thank you for asking my perspectives on this. The short answer is that diversity in our profession is as crucial as oxygen is to the body. Without oxygen, the body cannot and will not survive. The same holds true for our profession. Diversity is important because it makes our profession and the organizations that make up our profession, viable. As individuals, we represent a myriad of lived experiences, cultures, races, ethnicities, languages, etc., and our profession should mirror this.

We are struggling to become more diverse in the IEP classroom, in the field, and on organizational boards that make up our profession. Yes, we have made some headway, but we are not there, yet. Our communities are demanding a more diverse representation of interpreter educators and interpreters, and as a profession, it is our duty to be as diverse, in every aspect, as the communities in which we are in service. We all are responsible for ensuring that anyone who seeks to sit at the table, has a seat. Doing so ensures that the communities we serve, truly feel supported and represented.

T. Michele Johnson, NIC, MSEd, B.S., A.A.S.

T. Michele Johnson was raised in Queens, NY, but has resided in a small rural town in upstate NY for 31 years. She is a RID/NAD Nationally Certified Interpreter who also holds a Master’s degree in Deaf Education from Hunter College in Manhattan, NY, a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the State University College at Oneonta in Oneonta, NY, and an Associate’s degree in ASL Interpreting from Suffolk County Community College in Selden, NY. Michele has worked in the field of interpreting since 1987. She enjoys working in all aspects of the field, but she favors musical, theatrical and religious interpreting.

Formerly, Michele has worked as a Teacher of the Deaf, but currently, in addition to her full-time interpreting career, she also works as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at SUNY Oneonta and has been teaching ASL three nights a week for the past 28 years. ASL interpreting is more than just a career path for Michele, it is her passion. She can’t imagine her life without it or her connection with the Deaf Community she serves. Michele plans to continue interpreting as long as her mind and body are able.

Lisa Lockely, Associate Member

Melissa (Lisa) Lockley was born and raised in the Bronx, New York.  Lisa’s interpreting experience was acquired by volunteering in the d/Deaf community and church, and is also a free lanced interpreter for the past 8 years.  She has a passion for theatrical interpreting. Lisa serves as the President of the National Alliance of Black Interpreters (NAOBI-NYC) and has previously held Board positions with the New York City Black Deaf Advocates (NYC BDA) and the New York City Metro Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.  Lisa is also a member of the National Action Network/Interpreters Advocate Committee, and supports the National Action Network House of Justice Deaf Club.

In December 2019, Lisa completed her Masters of Arts in Liberal Arts Studies from Lehman College in New York City.  Her interests include d/Deaf community involvement, traveling, and reading. Diversity in the interpreting profession is vital  because as Deaf and hearing interpreters we should reflect the vastness of the multicultural d/Deaf population. Diversity adds a richness to the interpreting profession that encompasses cultural competency, sensitively, and a linguistic flare that can only be rendered organically. In addition, by having multicultural Deaf and hearing interpreters promotes a level of normalcy that is illustrative of the faces of the larger world.