Katharine Allen is the founder and owner of Words Across Borders. After 30 years in the language services profession, she created this platform in 2021, in part as a way to continue to provide language services. But more than anything else, her goal is to open pathways for high-quality language services to reach arenas in development, global health and disaster response that often struggle to get the language support they need.
My professional bio will tell you that I have built a career in the interpreting profession that is both broad and deep. My journey has taken me from helping to navigate meaning for the humblest of interactions between immigrants and providers to the political dance between government officials and those they serve.
The complexity of that task drove me to get the best education I could find at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, where I received a Master's in Translation and Interpretation for Spanish and English.
With that education, I become an educator myself, inside academia and for short-course trainings. Experience teaching ultimately led me to put pen to paper and contribute to multiple textbooks, short-course curricula, articles and blogs.
The urgent importance of supporting the essential work interpreters and translators do, coupled with the need to educate the outside world about what linguists do, has propelled me into many kinds of advocacy and leadership positions. Along the way I have served in professional associations, co-founded InterpretAmerica, an organization that spent a decade working to raise the profile of interpreting, and gained a comprehensive and unique view of our profession around the world.
Through it all, one constant never changes: human beings must communicate, and when language barriers get in the way, it takes trained, knowledgeable professionals to navigate them fully.
After all, on so many occasions, nothing is more important that being understood.
Katharine Allen is a community and conference-trained interpreter with over 3 decades experience interpreting, training, and designing curricula. A veteran language access consultant, she has worked to embed professional interpreting and translation into global maternal and child health missions in Chiapas, Mexico. Run by the Rotary Foundation and Sunrise Rotary in Bishop, California, these programs received recognition by the World Health Organization in 2021.
As co-founder and co-President of InterpretAmerica, she worked for 10 years to raise the profile of interpreting, helping to build impactful connections between interpreting specializations, professional associations, practitioners, technology vendors and language service companies.
Between 2010 and 2020 InterpretAmerica put on 7 national summits, collaborated with the Globalization and Localization Association to produce think! Interpreting, an interpreting-focused content track in GALA's annual conference, and co-organized the groundbreaking Lenguas conferences in Mexico with the Italia Morayta Foundation.
A fierce advocate for the language services professions, in 2019 she helped form CoPTIC, the Coalition of Practicing Translators and Interpreters of California. CoPTIC led a successful, constituent-driven advocacy campaign to regain the right of professional interpreters and translators in California to work as independent contractors in the wake of 2019's AB 5 legislation. She currently serves on the American Translators Association Advocacy Committee.
Katharine is a licensed trainer and lead creator and co-author of The Indigenous Interpreter® training program. She is co-author, licensed trainer and trainer of trainers for and The Community Interpreter® International. Katharine is also co-author on the upcoming textbooks The Remote Interpreter® and The Educational Interpreter®, all published through Cross-Cultural Communications.
She taught for the Glendon College Masters of Conference Interpreting for 7 years and is currently an instructor for the UMASS Amherst Translation and Interpreting Certificate Program. She has authored multiple curricula and training programs for clients such as Kaiser Permanente, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Defense.
Katharine is former president of the California Healthcare Interpreting Association (2006-2008) and is a founding member of the Interpreting and Translation in Education (ITE) Workgroup, a national organization currently working to professionalize language services in education.
Katharine is a frequent speaker at conferences and professional events. She has an MA in Translation and Interpretation from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.