NAOBI DC Board Members 2018-09-07T12:01:29+00:00

2018-2020 NAOBI DC Board Members

Jenese Portee
Jenese PorteePresident

Jenese brings a passion for service and equity between the D/deaf, D/deaf Blind, and Hard of Hearing communities and the general public. Originally from North Carolina, she relocated to the DC area in 2015. Having been a participant in NAOBI-NC, she sought out NAOBI-DC to be connected with likeminded professionals. She was elected to represent NAOBI-DC as Chapter Liaison in for the duration of 2016. She is very excited to now be serving as NAOBI-DC’s President! Jenese has earned both a Bachelors of Science and Masters of Science in ASL/English interpreting as well as National Interpreter Certification from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.

As an advocate for inclusion, she serves a staff ASL Interpreter and Reasonable Accommodation Assistant for the Peace Corps. She is a Certified Contracting Officer Representative (COR) as well as Disability Program Manager. In addition, within this role she is tasked with writing and managing contracts, providing consultation advice and guidance, as well as ASL Interpreting Services for Deaf/Hard of Hearing staff and volunteers. Previously, Jenese has been a valued member of State/Local government, educational, community and telecommunication systems where I provided top level services for staff and customers who communicate with American Sign Language.

The dynamic of living in the south as well as being exposed to the practices of interpreting international allows Jenese to bring a different lens to the organization. In addition to her professional life; Jenese is the mother to one daughter, Jordyn, who will be supporting NAOBI as a future member.

Vernice R. Williams
Vernice R. WilliamsSecretary

Vernice Williams moved to the Washington D.C. area from Atlanta, G.A. She obtained her Bachelor degree in Public Administration and Justice from Northern Arizona University and her Associates of Arts from Pima County College Interpreting Training Program.

Passionate about working with a diverse group of interpreters and Deaf individuals, the move to Washington D.C. area was a natural fit. An avid traveler, Vernice has traveled all over the United States and internationally to interpret to places like Zimbabwe, Europe, Arizona, Georgia, New York, Pennsylvania to name a few. In her spare time Vernice loves sports and traveling. As a thrill seeker climbing a rock wall or riding rollercoasters is a way to relax. Now Vernice is excited to start her new journey with her new NAOBI-DC family as appointed Secretary.

MJ Jones
MJ JonesTreasurer
MJ Jones (pronouns: they/them/theirs) is a freelance ASL Interpreter currently pursing their M.A. in International Development at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. MJ is dedicated and compassionate about social justice issues and advocacy for LGBTQ folks with diverse intersectionalities. They are currently working on their M.A. research thesis focusing on the experiences of Deaf Queer Trans People of color (QTPOC) working with interpreters. As the current Treasurer for the National Alliance of Black Interpreters, D.C Chapter, they aim to create more opportunities for students of color in the interpreting field. In their spare time, they enjoy hiking, camping, and cooking delicious vegan food.
Candas Barnes
Candas BarnesChapter Liason

Candas been a proud member of the Gallaudet University community since 1987. She currently works as a staff interpreter for Gallaudet Interpreting Service (GIS). In addition to GIS, she has also served as a Minority Fellow with the First Year Experience program (2005), consulted with the Department of Education, and worked with the team that produced Deaf Way I (1988-89). Candas holds a master’s degree in Counseling G ’07, a bachelor’s in writing and cultural studies from Goddard College (1993), and an associate’s in interpreting from NTID/RIT (1991).

Candas is affectionately known as a Linguistic Alchemist. She intentionally uses words to create change. For over 37 years she has served as a transformational author, dynamic speaker, American Sign Language/English interpreter and passionate educator focused on helping people understand themselves, and each other, better. She is also a certified life coach and an ordained interdenominational minister.

Currently Candas is laser-focused on exponentially increasing the number of highly qualified interpreters of color and on strengthening the knowledge, skills and proficiencies of social justice, equity, inclusion and restorative practices for all professionals who work with people who are Deaf. To that end, she walks her talk through a professional development fund that she established in 2016 entitled, “Sponsor a Student Interpreter of Color Initiative” (SASIOCI) which provides grants for students to attend professional development events and take their certification exams.