Found in Translation’s faculty, staff, and board are a dedicated group of individuals with expertise in a variety of fields and a passion for our mission. Hover over their photos to learn more about them.
Faculty *= alumnae of Found in Translation!
Bindiya Jha – Lead Instructor (see Staff for Bio)
Naima Agalab – Somali Language Coach
*Claudette Aspilaire – Haitian Creole Language Coach
Yoshie Ng – Mandarin and Cantonese Language Coach
Jane Kontrimas – Lead Language Coach
*Wilda Perez – Spanish Language Coach
*Sara Paiva – Portuguese Language Coach
*Laila Tagzine – Arabic Language Coach
*Jaya Shah – Nepali Language Coach
*Lenira Barros – Cape Verdean Language Coach
*Natalia Chilcote – Spanish Language Coach, Assistant Core Interpreting Instructor
David Hoang Tran – Vietnamese Language Coach
*Sacdiyo Aden – Somali Assistant Language Coach
*Carolina Lee – Vietnamese Assistant Language Coach
*Sara Joint – Haitian Creole Assistant Language Coach, Anatomy and Physiology Instructor
*Sofia Pikul – Spanish Assistant Language Coach
*Qin Alderson – Mandarin Assistant Language Coach
*Natasha Mejia-Alvarez – Spanish Assistant Language Coach
*Hindira Ramirez – Cape Verdean Assistant Language Coach
*Hyunji Johansen – Korean Language Coach, Assistant Core Interpreting Instructor
*Nacera Melhout – Arabic Assistant Language Coach
Afsaneh Moradi – Farsi Language Coach (not pictured)
*Hripsime Mkrtchyan – Assistant Core Interpreting Instructor
*Elizabeth Otieno – Assistant Core Interpreting Instructor
*Louisa Lacombe – Anatomy and Physiology Instructor
*Naomie Florestal – Anatomy and Physiology Instructor
Maria Vertkin – Founder, Executive Director
Maria was born in Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia and lived in Kadima, Israel before immigrating to the United States. In addition to English, Maria speaks Russian, Hebrew, Spanish, and a little Portuguese. Maria studied Social Work at Regis College and began her career at the nonprofit Rediscovery. There she worked with adolescents transitioning out of foster care and led two pilot programs: a summer jobs program for at-risk youth and an innovative school-based program for homeless, unaccompanied high school students. She has also worked with survivors of domestic violence, was a mentor to girls at Big Sister of Greater Boston, a support group facilitator at Parents Helping Parents, a phone counselor on the state-wide Parental Stress Line, and translated for the grassroots media project Alive in Mexico to raise awareness of social justice issues in Mexico. For her service and dedication to the community, Maria has received several awards, including the 2009 Veronica Award from the Superstars Foundation, the 2010 Pearson Prize, the 2011 Women of Peace Award from the Women’s Peacepower Foundation, the 2011 Kip Tiernan Social Justice Fellowship, which has enabled her to launch Found in Translation, the 2013 Echoing Green Global Fellowship, the 2015 Richard Cornuelle Award for Social Entrepreneurship from the Manhattan Institute, the Innovator for Social Justice Prize from Grinnell College. She is profiled in the 2016 Chronicle of Philanthropy 40 Under 40 list, and in the 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs.
Kelly Lynch – Deputy Director
Kelly Lynch graduated from UMass Amherst, where she majored in Political Science and French & Francophone Studies, while completing a certificate program in Interpretation Studies. After teaching ESOL through the UMass Labor Management Workplace Education Program and supporting low-income individuals through the LIFT Cambridge-Somerville office, she went on to serve as an AmeriCorps Ambassador of Mentoring at On Common Ground. Upon completing her year of service, she remained at On Common Ground as the first full-time program coordinator of the Mentor Center, which offers mentoring services to adults experiencing poverty through one-on-one support, guidance and resource referrals. Kelly joined Found in Translation in 2015 as a Career and Supportive Services Coordinator, while serving as the Outreach Coordinator at the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. She also holds a certificate from Wheelock College in Nonprofit Organization Leadership.
Bindiya Jha – Head of Interpreter Education
Bindiya believes in language access and equity. She is a community based healthcare administrator, an advocate and educator with a focus on healthcare interpreting. She speaks Nepali and is actively involved with the Bhutanese refugee population. She has a Masters in International Development and Social Change from Clark University. She is a freelance CCHI certified Medical Interpreter and a Certified Court Interpreter in Nepali. Ms. Jha has worked in refugee resettlement from 2007 to 2013 and has extensive experience in immigration law. Since 2013, she has worked at Caregiver Homes and provides operational support to Adult Foster Care programs along with online digital care coaching for Nepali speaking caregivers. Currently, she works in the capacity of Clinical Practice Manager for the Worcester branch. She is a trainer for Nepali medical interpreter students in various platforms across the state. In all her roles, she has been a passionate advocate for languages of lesser diffusion like Nepali.
Karen Walker – Career Advancement Manager
Karen was born in Massachusetts and is the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica. She studied psychology and Spanish at Oberlin College and later studied school psychology at Tufts University. Karen has worked as a school psychologist in the public school system working with students from pre-school through high school. She spent a number of years working with homeless youth providing academic and career development services first as a classroom instructor and later as an administrator. Karen also spent four years working at a community college in Massachusetts overseeing a dual enrollment program for high school students with disabilities.
Abigail Setterholm – Information and Communications Manager
Abigail grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she attended a Spanish Elementary school and became bilingual at a young age. Her passion for cultures, empathy and social justice led her to Boston, where she attended Tufts University, earning a BA in Peace and Justice Studies and a minor in Drama. Before coming to Found in Translation, Abigail completed two years of national service as a City Year AmeriCorps member at a public elementary school in Boston, serving as a tutor, mentor, and role model in a 5th grade classroom. Abigail joined Found in Translation in 2016 as a Program Assistant, and has since transitioned from program support to data, development and communications.
Ayolah Ibezim, Supportive Services Coordinator
Ayolah graduated from Boston University, where she studied Psychology and Biology. During her years at Boston University, Ayolah became a volunteer case manager at Boston Medical Center under the supervision of Health Leads, an organization that aims to lessen the socioeconomic burden of poverty and increase overall health by creating cost-effective, sustainable, impactful connections to community resources. Her three years of experience as a case manager, team supervisor, and eventual volunteer coordinator within Health Leads allowed her to discover her passion in working with disenfranchised, low-income communities of color. After graduating from Boston University, Ayolah began working as a Mental Health Specialist at McLean Hospital, where she continued working with diverse groups of people living with various mental illnesses.
David Chen – Partnerships Coordinator
David graduated from Fitchburg State University, where he majored in Political Science and Business. Upon graduation, David had a brief stint in the federal government working for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, but he knew his heartfelt desire was working at the community level. Subsequently, David earned his Master of Education in Community Engagement from Merrimack College and spent the past few years working on multiple community-based participatory projects and in local government. David has helped a town government in Massachusetts addressed senior food security and collaborated with the local transit authority to bring a commuter bus that travels to Boston daily. David also speaks fluent Cantonese (and some Mandarin) and enjoys making videos and digital projects. He is most passionate in helping people and communities attain the highest level of health and prosperity.
Danielle Osterman, MSW – Program Coordinator
Danielle studied International Development and Social Change at Clark University and later went on to study Macro Social Work at Boston College. Prior to coming to Found In Translation, Danielle completed two years of AmeriCorps service, one with the YMCA International Learning Center and the other with The Neighborhood Developers. In both positions, she worked on program development with low-income communities, primarily around access to income supports. Danielle has also managed Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) programs for several years in the Boston area.
Kerri Lopez-Howell – Grant Writer
Kerri Lopez-Howell hails from sunny Tucson, AZ (it’s a dry heat). She has been writing grants for various non-profits for the past five years. She has a Masters in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary and a Bachelors of Arts in English and Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. Prior to her work with Found in Translation, Kerri was the lead grant writer for YWCA Southern Arizona an anti-racism, feminist organization working especially hard to support Latinx and immigrant women in Southern Arizona. She has a background in program directing and management in low-income Latinx communities. Away from her computer, you can find Kerri rescuing stray dogs and exploring Tucson’s food scene.
Ester Rebeca Shapiro Rok, Ph.D. is a Cuban Jewish Eastern European immigrant committed to helping all families make the most of their opportunities, even when facing adversity and loss. She is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Boston; a Research Associate at the Gaston Institute for Latino Research and Public Policy; and directs the Community Engagement Core at UMass Boston’s HORIZON Center. She also directs the Health Promotion Research Group, which partners with the individuals and communities most directly impacted by social inequality to identify culturally meaningful resources for health promotion, resilience, and recovery. Dr. Shapiro was Coordinating Editor of Nuestros Cuerpos, Nuestras Vidas, the Spanish transcultural adaptation of Our Bodies, Ourselves. She has also published personal narratives about the impact of multiple immigrations on development in her own Cuban Jewish family, and is writing a memoir.
Originally from California, Kelly has dedicated her life to civil society for more than ten years sitting on boards, volunteering and interning for organizations such as the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, California Public Interest Research Group, and National Association of Community Health Centers. With a B.S. in Business Administration focused on non-profit management and marketing, Kelly spent two years in the advertising industry in Los Angeles and three years in the international development industry, managing NGO capacity building projects in Botswana’s public health sector and a women’s economic empowerment project while at Oxfam in Cambodia. Kelly has recently completed her Master’s degree in International Business at The Fletcher School at Tufts University and currently works as a program manager to ensure social and environmental responsibility in the global supply chain of a large technology company.
Since 2010, Jenny has been working with nonprofits supporting children and families experiencing social injustice. She has helped to design, leverage funds for, and implement activities in a range of settings, from public high schools, to a center for street-children in Morocco, and community-run after school clubs for refugee children in London. She has a B.A. in European Studies from the University of Bath (UK), is a certified ESL teacher and holds graduate qualifications in Nonprofit Management and Child and Adolescent Psychotherapeutic Counseling.
Janet has over twenty years of human resources and organizational development experience dealing with a range of issues such as work place conflicts, employee training and development, benefits, leadership and recruitment. She has developed policy, conducted training, facilitated and implemented strategic planning and has a track record of mediating disputes and creating effective solutions for internal resolution. Janet has spent the last seven years dividing her time between providing human resource consulting to small and non-profit organizations, and work with The Mediation Group. Janet is a former member of the Board of Directors of the Somerville Homeless Coalition, is a member of the Alliance to Increase Diversity in CDC’s and is a former Vice-Chair of the Board of the Episcopal City Mission.
Dr. Eric Hardt
Dr. Eric Hardt is a former Associate Professor of Medicine at BUSM. His training included B.A. in psych from Yale 1970, M.D. from Tufts Med 1974. After 10 years at Harlem Hospital and Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx, he came to Boston City Hospital/BMC, where he worked for 34 years until retirement. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Medical Oncology, Geriatrics, and Palliative Care Medicine. Dr. Hardt’s activities in the area of non-English-speaking patients and medical interpretation are well known around the country. He has produced educational materials for medical interpreters and for health care workers working across language differences. He has authored and co-authored book chapters and articles on medical interpretation and related areas. Dr. Hardt was a founding member of the International Medical Interpreters Association and served on the Advisory Board. In 2011 he received the IMIA’s inaugural “Provider of the Year Award.” He was a founding member of the National Council on Interpretation in Health Care, served on its Executive Board, and co-chaired its Policy and Research Committee. He worked with the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants and with the ABA’s Health Law Section about related legal issues. Most recently, he served as a Board Director for the National Board of Certification for Medical Interpreters, which began national certification in 2010. For 34 years he served as Medical Consultant to Interpreter Services at BCH/BMC.
Lisa K. Walker, MPAS, PA-C
Lisa is a physician assistant (PA) and the founding Program Director of the Physician Assistant program at MGH Institute of Health Professions. Before entering the PA profession in 1994, Lisa worked as an American Sign Language interpreter in medical settings. She teaches and consults extensively on the topics of cultural competency, patients with disabilities, medical interpreting, and communication access. She is the co-author of a chapter on patients with disabilities in the widely used text Physician Assistant: A Guide to Clinical Practice.
Carolina Tejedor Meyers
Originally from Bogota, Colombia, Carolina is passionate about the entrepreneurialism, intense energy, and diversity of big cities. Carolina formalized this passion by earning her MBA from Simmons University while simultaneously starting a family and launching several entrepreneurial endeavors. She ran her own award-winning clothing company, Caramelo Clothing Co., amassing strong street-level experience with business strategy, finances, operations, and personnel management. More recently, Carolina has co-taught Business Strategy courses in both online and brick-and-mortar formats. She currently manages Latin America Customer Operations at Clarks (C. & J. Clark International Ltd) — working with sales forecasts, operations, and customer service. She is known for her infectious energy and exceptional interpersonal skills, and if you’re not careful, she might rope you into a little salsa dancing.