Committed to volunteering: Donna Parrish

Our interviewee for this issue is Donna Parrish, who is one of the key tenets at Translators without Borders. She has served tirelessly on the board, both as a member and currently as a Secretary, helping volunteers achieve their goals within TWB and spreading the word through her magazine, Multilingual.


If you were to write a brief wiki article about yourself, what facts and personal characteristics would you include?

I majored in mathematics at college; then I became a computer programmer, which I did for 25 years. Then I went to work for Multilingual, the magazine, and I really enjoyed it. I was mainly hired because of my programming background. They knew I would understand some of the technical difficulties, dealing with languages on computer networking. After a few years, the person who started the magazine wanted to get out of the business so I bought it from them. Now I am the owner of Multilingual. In 2003, I got involved in Localization World and I have been doing that ever since.

What is your role at TWB?

I was part of the forming organization in 2010 when we first incorporated Translators without Borders. I have been involved in TWB ever since. I am the Secretary of the board. I am also investigating how we can restructure TWB so as to take it to the next level; in other words, how we can cope with current demands. We are dealing with people who are all volunteers and everybody has very good intentions, but it is necessary for someone to be around and make sure things are done and that everyone has all of the tools and information they need… so that is my role.

How do you squeeze in time for your volunteer tasks?

Quite often in the morning before I go to work. I usually spend the first hour and sometimes two, in front of the computer with my morning coffee in my hand. As I am normally working in the Pacific time zone, a lot of the day has already gone past by the time I am online so parts of my tasks involve catching up with what has happened, but also that is a good time to do TWB things that I need to do. So it is a good way to begin the day before my regular job, before putting on “my other hat,” so to speak.

What do you consider are the challenges ahead for your role and for TWB?

I think we are addressing the challenges. The wonderful thing that is happening is that we have raised awareness throughout the world in terms of the needs for critical information to be expressed in local languages. This was something that non-profit organizations had not thought of, and they are thinking about it thanks to our efforts, and that is the reason why there is so much demand. So now we need to be able to cope with these new demands. There are many administrative and operational needs. For example, my organization deals with a lot of the technical background of TWB, such as hosting the website and sending e-mails.

To what extent do your professional and personal goals come together with your volunteer work?

It is just a perfect melting. The nice thing about being publisher at the magazine Multilingual is that we can also use the exposure that the magazine brings to spread the word about TWB. So that is another way this all comes together for me. I think a lot of people may have the impression that in order to volunteer for TWB you must be a translator, but there are many needs in the organization for people like me and with the growing number of non-profit organizations that need our help, there are more and more tasks to be done. Of course translation is the core, but there are a lot of other issues to be filled.

Target shooting

In paper: newspapers and magazines

On the web: current trends on the web

Open-air activity: jogging

With friends: dining together, going to a movie

Family gathering: Thanksgiving

Lorena Baudo