Texas Association of Healthcare Interpreters & Translators

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Manuel Higginbotham

Manuel Higginbotham, CHI™, CMI, is a language professional with a passion for advocating on behalf of the Limited English Proficient community. He has leadership experience in VRI, OPI, and hospitals, as well having owned his own and language consulting and training company. More than 40 hospitals across the US have relied on his expertise in developing language access plans and training interpreters. Manuel oversees the Language Access Services Department at the University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin. He is a certified instructor for the Bridging the Gap curriculum and provides CEU trainings for interpreters and preparation courses for national certification. He sits on the Texas Advisory Committee on Qualifications for Health Care Translators and Interpreters and currently serves as the president of TAHIT.  In his spare time, you can find him playing volleyball or watching his alma mater, The Ohio State University, become national football champs! 

Vice President

Aida Cases

Although my college training is in business education and organizational management, I found my calling when I became an advocate for equal access in healthcare, education and justice. My career began as an advocate while working for Vermont's Language and Cultural Affairs program, Department of Education. I advocated and worked with students and families who were NELB (Non-English language background). Upon moving to New Hampshire, I began working with an early education program, providing social services to low income families and families with mental health issues. One of the biggest concerns during my work while advocating for Spanish speaking families in New Hampshire, was the lack of interpreters in the medical and mental health fields. I was lucky enough to find a medical interpreting training program with CCCS, Inc. (Cross Cultural Communication Services) which trained me to interpret for patients in the medical and mental health field over 12 years ago. I have served as a Board Commissioner on the New Hampshire Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, as well as a board member of the Nashua Community Mental Health Board and I was a former Board member for the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC). I have authored two guides for NAMI NH with a grant from Endowment for Health entitled: Guides for Hispanic/Latinos Seeking Mental Health Access” and “Mental Health Outreach in the Hispanic/Latino Population.” I currently work as a national program consultant for CCCS, Inc. Embracing Culture and currently live in Keller, Texas.


Alina Q. Wilson

Alina is a Certified Medical Interpreter with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Bilingual Communications and Public Relations. She has been in the industry of medical Interpreting for over 25 years, starting her career as a freelance interpreter.

Alina worked at Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Houston Medical Center for almost 10 years, the first hospital nation-wide to have all of its interpreters certified. During that time, she was not only an interpreter; she was a proctor and mentor to Rice University students who had an interest in Medical Spanish. She is currently an interpreter with MasterWord Services. She has been a TAHIT member, one of original founders, and Board Member for over 9 years. She is an advocate for TAHIT and the Interpreter Profession. Alina treats every LEP patient she interprets for as if they were her only patients. Every encounter, every time she ensures that they are treated with dignity, respect, compassion, while maintaining a neutral, ethical and accurate interpretation. Most of her free time is spent with family and friends, especially her granddaughters Avery and Taylor, who are the apple of her eyes.


Waleska Ghini

Waleska Ghini, Owner, Online & Onsite Trainer at Spanish For All Austin, L.L.C, is a Qualified Healthcare Interpreter. A native Spanish Speaker, she has a degree in Speech Therapy from Universidad Rafael Landivar, Guatemala City, and 400 hours of supervised practicum as a Speech Therapist at Rafael Landivar University. She holds a certification as an Administrative Insurance Technician (Intecap and Agis̶̶̶ Register No.10562) and holds a Bachelor of Science in Business with Marketing from the University of Phoenix. Over the past 10 years, Waleska has been exposed to a diverse range of healthcare issues due to a relative's illnesses―including an aggressive form of cancer and a bypass procedure―at many hospitals in Louisiana and Texas. These experiences gained from so many years of dealing with physicians, nurses, hospital administrators, laboratories, rehabilitation clinic staff, medical device companies, pharmacists, home care services, and insurance companies, and from being an "ad hoc interpreter" over the past years for family members in three different languages and cultures (English, Spanish, Italian) became the basis for Waleska’s current interpreter training programs: Premium One-on-One 40 Hours Healthcare Interpreter Training Online and Onsite Accredited by IMIA-CMIE, and 6 hours Continuing Education Accredited by CCHI-CEAP. Waleska has over 16 years of experience in the Education and Business fields working with people of diverse ages and ethnicities. She has worked as a teacher and a speech therapist, helping people to achieve their goals and improve their rehabilitation prognosis, with excellent results and mutual satisfaction. 

Waleska’s language industry activities include: former Director of Membership, Austin Area Translators and Interpreters Association (AATIA), currently Executive Board Member and Secretary, Texas Association of Healthcare Interpreters and Translators (TAHIT), member of Houston Interpreters and Translators Association (HITA), former IMIA Texas Chapter Vice-Chair and IMIA Texas Chapter Chair, International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA), former Board Member and Chair, National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters (NBCMI), currently IMIA Texas Chapter Liaison, IMIA City Chapter Chair for Austin, Texas, and member of Community Advancement Network (CAN) Language Access Work Group in Austin, Texas.

Evidence-based Practices Chair

Dr. Marisa Abbe

Dr. Marisa Abbe is a Research Scientist with The Safety Source - Injury Prevention Service at Children’s Medical Center, Dallas and is Director of Research in the Emergency Department. With a background in medical anthropology, her primary interests are in medical communication, health disparities, and how prevention education is delivered in medical settings. Her previous research with interpreters and LEP individuals includes analysis of medical communication and cultural competence practices with immigrants and refugees; concerns of doctors, interpreters, and parents in pediatric leukemia consent discussions; and job roles of hospital interpreters.

Membership Committee Chair

Alma Rivera

Alma is a former Medical Interpreter and now a Registered Nurse, Nurse Educator, and Lactation Consultant, with active participation in the issues related with medical interpreters, quality of care for patients and community. She is an active advocate for the medical interpreter community and patients access to resources of languages and safe care. As she manages to keep her interpretation skills updated, Alma Rivera is an active member of professional interpreter organizations, volunteers and attends conferences with the purpose of advance this generous and needed profession. Her desire is to encourage, support and provide information to medical interpreters and translators to take advantage of available trainings, updated research and best practices, conferences, and certification as well advocate for self care and stress management related to their jobs.

Outreach Chair

Eduardo Gandara

Born in Mexico City, father of three. A Unites States Marines veteran honorably discharged in 1991 after 10 years of proud service. After his discharge, Eduardo moved to Monterrey Mexico to manage the family business. During the 10 years in Monterrey, Eduardo quickly climbed the executive latter to become the regional sales manager and merchandizing for ELT at Mc Graw Hill Interamericana and later the operations manager for a division of Multimedios Estrellas de Oro. Eduardo obtained his teaching certificate from ITESM (Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey).

In early 2002 as a newly wed and expectant father, he decided to relocate back to the US and performed superbly as Internet sales manager for a renowned auto group. In 2004 he began interpreting for Children's Medical Center in Dallas marking the beginning of a successful career in the medical interpretation field. He has an associates in science from Mountain View College, holds a bachelors

in healthcare business administration from UT Arlington, and is currently pursuing his masters in healthcare administration from UT Arlington. He holds a double national certification as a medical and healthcare interpreter and now works for Parkland Hospital. He is also a medical interpreter trainer for Language Line Solutions. Former pilot, war veteran, teacher, engineer and interpreter, Eduardo plays the piano, loves soccer (go Rayados!) and believes that the most important part of his life is his family.

Professional Development Chair
Whitney Gissell

Training and Development Specialist for MasterWord Services and BEI Advanced level certified American Sign Language interpreter. As the first staff American Sign Language Interpreter at the world-renowned MD Anderson Cancer Center in the Texas Medical Center, Whitney acquired deep familiarity with the intricacies and challenges of medical interpreting. Her degrees in Psychology and Neuroscience laid the foundation of knowledge upon which she built a successful career interpreting in a variety of medical specialties. Interpreting has ignited in her a passion for the advancement of the profession. She has served on the Houston Deaf Advisory Council under the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, and currently holds office as President of the Greater Houston Interpreters of the Deaf.

Social Media Chair

Dr. Alessandro Baldan

Dr. Alessandro Baldan works as a postdoctoral researcher at the Baylor college of Medicine in Houston. He graduated with a combined BSc-MSc in Molecular Biology. He obtained another MSc in Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology and a PhD in Translational Biomedicine. Of particular interest to Alessandro are his projects to improve healthcare and patient's quality of life. His clinical studies focus on hemoglobinopathies like thalassemia and sickle cell disease and their genetics. Alessandro was a researcher for the European-funded project Trans2Care and head of the working-group Media aimed at scientific dissemination of results. He has worked for private companies and universities in Italy, England, France and the US.