Board of Directors

Meet our NOTIS Officers and Directors: January-December 2021 contact the board    


Shelley Fairweather-Vega Shelley is an ATA-certified Russian to English translator and an enthusiastic Uzbek to English translator. She now lives in Seattle, but also has roots in Oregon and Idaho. Shelley holds a B.A. in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University and an M.A. in Russian, East European and Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington. Her interest in international affairs and politics – plus a passion for puzzles – led her to translation, a career that makes a vital contribution to how people can share experiences, solve problems, and create art across linguistic and cultural borders. After working for libraries, the Peace Corps, and the U.S. Department of Justice while translating on the side, Shelley switched to full-time freelancing in 2012. Her translation clients are attorneys, academics, authors and activists around the world. She runs FairVega Translations and its sister company, FairVega Russian Library Services, which helps public libraries build and improve their Russian-language collections. Shelley is also a member of the American Literary Translators Association.

Vice President

Laura Friend is an ATA-certified Russian and French to English translator specializing in legal translation. She is originally from the Washington, D.C. area and has traveled widely. She attended elementary school in Paris, France for two years and has studied, worked and lived in Russia (back in the USSR), Spain and Germany. Later she taught Russian as an adjunct professor and a teaching assistant at Georgetown University and the University of Washington. Her other languages include Czech, Spanish and German. Laura holds degrees in Russian language, culture and area studies from Yale University, the University of Washington and Middlebury College, as well as certificates from the Pushkin State Russian Language Institute and Leningrad State University. She has lived in the Puget Sound area for over twenty years, first in Seattle and now on the Kitsap Peninsula. In 2017 Laura chaired the ATA Slavic Languages Division Nominating Committee. She has interpreted informally for food banks, churches and hospitals; she is also a former Red Cross volunteer. She loves nature, music, film and reading. Her favorite cult film director is Guillermo del Toro.


Yasemin Alptekin is a native speaker of Turkish with years of experience in simultaneous translation between English and Turkish, specializing in legal, medical and educational interpretation/translation as well as literary. She has an academic interest in translation theory and also translates literary and technical texts. Yasemin has been involved in translation and interpretation work since she started learning English as a second language at Robert High School in Istanbul, Turkey, where she started a “Translation Club” to understand the cultural nuances between the source and target languages to build strong bridges of communication. She later studied linguistics, literary translation theory and techniques while pursuing a BA in Western Languages and Literature at Bosphorus University in Turkey. After coming to the US for her graduate studies, she was hired by a the Turkish Education Project funded by World Bank. She served as a liaison and interpreter for the Turkish delegations visiting the US, and helping the administrators as a translator/interpreter for three years and as a Program Director later for another three years. Yasemin recently completed all the requirements to become a Registered Court Interpreter in Turkish. 

Melody Winkle  is an ATA-certified German to English translator. A Washington State native, she has been in Seattle for many years, after several years in Alaska and Berlin. She came to translation after a career in libraries and technology, having worked in higher education, small businesses, non-profits, and as a co-owner of a technology workers co-op. Melody finds translation to be a great fit with her interests in languages, research, and technology. She focuses on marketing, medical and literary translation, and has branched out into subtitling. She enjoys reading, hiking, and gardening.

Olga Cuzmanov is a Professional Engineer (PE) licensed by the Board of Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors in Idaho, USA with more than 20 years of engineering experience. Born and raised in Romania, she earned her Master of Science in Thermo-Energetic Systems from the Polytechnic Institute of Bucharest – Power Engineering Faculty. She moved to the United States in 1990 and worked as an engineer in the business and government sectors. Since 2013, as owner of ENRO Translations, she has provided translation services between English and Romanian or Moldavian languages and specializes in technical translations. She is currently an associate member of ATA (American Translations Association) and the ATA Science and Technology Division. A member of ISPE (Idaho Society of Professional Engineers), she passionately promotes careers in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) fields for girls and women. She enjoys traveling, driving her blue Jeep, reading literature in both English and Romanian and learning about artificial intelligence.

Zakiya Hanafi, PhD, Stanford ’91, is a DSHS-certified medical interpreter (Italian); a linguistic quality reviewer and translator for the medical devices industry (French and Italian); and an Italian and French to English translator specializing in the humanities. Drawing on her scholarly background as an Assistant Professor of Romance Languages at the University of Washington in the 1990s, in addition to her own research on the scientific revolution, she has published over a dozen translated books with various academic presses. While living in Italy for 12 years, she became a seasoned technical translator, with a focus on medical, legal and accounting texts––subjects she taught at the University of Venice from 2003 to 2009. During the same period, she developed her own business by offering linguistic services and training to companies and government agencies in the Venice region. Since 2012, as an Affiliate Assistant Professor of Human-Centered Design and Engineering, she has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in technical communication and cross-cultural design at the University of Washington. Born and raised in Canada, she makes frequent cross-border trips to visit family up north, when not indulging her latest passions for learning how to cook and play the ukulele. She is also an avid cat and gardening enthusiast.

Alma Lopez is an English to Spanish interpreter and translator. Her experiences as an immigrant and her love of science and languages inspired her to take her first healthcare interpreting qualification course in 2010. She joined NOTIS in 2016 with the goal of finding more training opportunities in in the field. She was born in Mexico City and has been a resident of Boise, Idaho most of her life. Alma has extensive experience in the healthcare field and has also collaborated in immigration, technology, AI, and biology projects including the award-wining documentary “Souls of the Vermillion Sea” by Wild Lens. Her experience includes serving different clients as a freelancer since 2014 and working for St Luke’s Health System for a couple of years. When not working on a project, she enjoys traveling, reading, art, serving meals for the homeless with other members of her community and spending time with family and friends.

Maria Lucas is an ATA-certified English to Spanish translator and a federally certified court interpreter, who is also certified by the states of California and Washington.  She was born and raised in Barcelona, Spain and attended Universitat de Barcelona where she obtained a B.A. in Romance Languages Philology and was awarded an Erasmus scholarship to Università degli Studi della Basilicata, in Potenza, Italy. She also completed an M.A. in Spanish at the University of California Los Angeles. She is a native speaker of Catalan as well and fluent in Italian and German. She is currently working as a freelance interpreter and translator in the Seattle area. Before moving to Seattle, she lived in Italy, Scotland, Germany, China and California and traveling around the world was her passion. She met her husband in La Paz, Bolivia during one of those trips and the rest is history. Ever since her two kids came along, spending time with her family and exploring the U.S. have been her favorite activities.

Pinar Mertan was born in Ankara, Turkey and started learning English in school there. She studied law at Istanbul University and dedicated her summers to improving her English by attending language schools in England and the US. She worked as a legal counsel for the Siemens legal department in Istanbul, then became a sworn interpreter and translated documents from English to Turkish and vice versa. In 2000 she moved to Redwood City, California, and then to Issaquah, Washington in 2007. She became a certified medical interpreter and a registered court interpreter in 2017, one of only a few certified Turkish interpreters in Washington state. Pinar has two children and she loves reading, biking, swimming, skiing, traveling, gathering with friends, organizing events and cooking. She visits her parents, relatives and friends in Turkey every year.

Tarja Sahlstén is a native speaker of Finnish born in Finland. She has always loved languages and knew already as a little girl she wanted to be a translator. She studied English, German, and Italian for three years in Turin, Italy and then went for the Master’s in Translation Studies at the University of Turku, Finland. She translates from English, German, and Italian into Finnish. She has been an audio-visual translator and subtitler and worked for multiple clients for over 20 years. She has also translated some books and comics into Finnish. But then she moved to Seattle in 2016 and became a Localization Specialist. She has always been an active member of the translation community, served on the board of the Finnish Association of Translators and Interpreters and attended many international conferences around the world. She loves to travel and explore the world.

Office Manager

Naomi Uchida has been the Office Manager, membership director, and workshop coordinator of NOTIS since February 2013, responsible for managing the administrative activities of the society. Naomi is originally from Kobe, Japan, and she has worked in management and administration in the US. Before starting at NOTIS, she worked for seven years at a wholesale textile company in Seattle after graduating from Bellevue College. She has completed the translation and interpretation certificate programs at the Translation & Interpretation Institute in Bellevue, Washington, and she has been a freelance translator from English into Japanese since 2007.

Communications and Marketing (Contract Employee)

Brianna Salinas considers herself a lifelong student of language. She grew up between Washington State and Arizona and later lived and studied abroad in both Germany and Spain. In Spain, she found community with other artists and linguists and began taking on translation and subtitling projects––immediately cultivating a love for translation. She has a B.A. in English Literature and recently completed an M.A. in Hispanic Literary Studies, both from the University of Washington. While completing the latter, she co-led a Translation Studies group on campus for which she organized readings, workshops, and speaking events. In addition to her work with NOTIS, Brianna serves on the Advisory Board for the UW’s faculty-led Translation Studies Hub and plans to continue with an interdisciplinary PhD that will allow her to focus on both literary and translation studies. She recently translated a selection of Argentinian sonnets by Alfonsina Storni and is currently at work on a book written by a Mexican-American poet in collaboration with other members of his largely immigrant farming community (Othello, Washington). When away from her desk, Brianna enjoys reading in parks, climbing mountains, exploring small towns and other in-between places, riding her bicycle, shooting film, and playing with dogs.

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