Texas Association of Healthcare Interpreters & Translators

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Manuel Higginbotham

(Elected Even Years)

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 the Language Access Services Department for hospitals within the State of Texas medical system. 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

Susie Amezquita

(Elected Odd Years)

As a health information management student, many years ago, I asked my immigrant (LEP) mom several questions about her/our healthcare experience. As the first of two children, who were born in a US hospital, I wondered what her hospital experience was like. She replied it was “horrible”. She felt “ignored” throughout her stay as an interpreter was never offered. Several years later, after becoming aware of the important of understanding our medical history, I noticed a faint surgical scar on my left neck. I asked mom what caused the small scar. Mom replied, “The doctor said you had a ball.” I am honored and privileged to be called upon to work with TAHIT. I stumbled upon the language access world almost 18-years ago. I never felt more grateful and rewarded in my career roles than I have felt in the language access arena. As a Bridging the Gap facilitator at my Network, I appreciate seeing qualified and trained interpreters learn to understand their roles as cultural brokers and promoters of transparent communication. It is rewarding to hear interpreter team members say, “I love my job!” These observations are gratifying. I am proud to be part of the interpreter team, and to recognize interpreters as a vital part of any healthcare multi-disciplinary team. My goal is to continue to promote interpreters as valued members of interdisciplinary teams at all healthcare organizations. It is amazing to see interpreters live and support the Cultural and Linguistic Service (CLAS) standards every day. It is exciting to see interpreters share cultural differences that may impact patient care with providers.


Fabian Robles

(Elected Odd Years)

Fabian Robles, CHI™, was born in Austin, Texas. He grew up in Venezuela where he Graduated from Medical School at the Central University of Venezuela in 2007. In Venezuela he was part of the Urban Search and Rescue Team for approximately 8 years.  With his extensive Medical knowledge as a physician and the desire to help the most vulnerable Fabian started interpreting in 2011 for a Rehab facility in Austin. Currently he is a Supervisor of Network Language Access for Seton Family of Hospitals, part of Ascension Health in Austin since 2015. He works very closely with a team of 20 onsite interpreters as well as VRI and OPI technologies on a day to day basis. He enjoys his time off practicing Martial Arts and with his family


Waleska Bonthrone

(Elected Even Years)

Waleska Bonthrone, 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. Jacqueline Stout-Aguilar

(Elected Odd Years)

Dr. Stout-Aguilar was raised in Oaxaca, Mexico and has resided in Texas since returning to the United States. She serves as the Program Manager for Evidence-Based Practice at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston Texas. Her background includes obstetrical and oncological nursing with her primary research interests being music therapy in the NICU and interprofessional education. Dr. Stout-Aguilar has served as a medical interpreter with UTMB since 2011 and looks forward to conducting research and evidence-based practice projects related to healthcare interpretation and translation.

Membership Committee Chair

Alma Rivera

(Elected Odd Years)

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

(Elected Even Years)

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
(Elected Even Years)

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

(Elected Odd Years)

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 bone marrow failure and its 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.