Texas Association of Healthcare Interpreters & Translators

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Manuel Higginbotham

(Elected Even Years)

Manuel Higginbotham, CHI, CMI - Spanish, 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 as having owned his own 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 for hospitals in the State of Texas hospital system and is based in Galveston.  He has written curricula for his own 40-, 64-, and 80-hour interpreter training courses and provides CEU trainings and 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


Melissa Wallace

(Elected Even Years)

Melissa earned her Ph.D. in translation and interpreting studies from the Universidad de Alicante, Spain. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor of Translation and Interpreting Studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio where she also directs the Graduate Certificate Program in Translation and Interpreting Studies. In addition to being a Licensed Court Interpreter (LCI-master level) and a Certified Healthcare Interpreter, Melissa was an active appointed member of the Standards and Training Committee of the National Council on Interpreting in Health Care (NCIHC) for 5 years, and is currently co-lead on the Webinars Work Group of the NCIHC’s Home for Trainers initiative (since 2012). Further service includes work on the Executive Board of ATISA (the American Translation and Interpreting Studies Association), appointment to two state supreme court advisory boards on interpreter issues (in Texas and Wisconsin), and currently a board member of SSTI, NAJIT’s research and educational    

                                           non-profit foundation.

Evidence-based Practices Chair

Dr. Jacqueline Stout-Aguilar

(Elected Even 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

Mona Elshenawy

(Elected Even Years)

Mona Elshenawy, MA, CHI™ is a community engagement professional; founder of Culture Impact, a multicultural marketing consulting firm. Mona obtained a Master’s Degree in Medical Sociology from Texas Woman’s University and completed undergraduate work at The American University in Cairo, Egypt. She has worked for over a decade as a Spanish interpreter, community health manager and research consultant for Texas Health Resources, Children’s Health and other large healthcare systems in North Texas. As a qualitative researcher she studies the complex ways in which clinical communication transpires in hospital settings; specifically as it’s manifesting with the advent of telemedicine and virtual health.

Professional Development Chair
Justin Lee
(Elected Odd Years)

Justin Lee is a passionate interpreter who currently holds the Texas BEI Master Certification and the RID National Interpreter Certification. He is the Professional Development Project Manager for Crabtree Interpreting Service in Houston, TX and a part-time VRS interpreter for Sorenson VRS. He has been interpreting professionally since 2004 and involved in the Deaf community since 1996. His interpreting experience has encompassed many different arenas including: Educational, Legal, Medical, Mental Health, and VRS. He has a passion for sociolinguistics and loves to instill the same passion in the interpreters he mentors. He is also a proud husband and father.

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.