NAOBI-DC History

Our history spans over 16 years; from what began as a boutique cohort of Black interpreters who bravely organized the national organization’s first chapter, to have grown into one of the most robust chapters amongst a family of many. Now, well into our seventh administration, we continue a legacy of excellence in interpreter education, peer support, mentorship, and advocacy.

The National Alliance of Black Interpreters commissioned Washington D.C. to head it’s first chapter during the 1999 national conference in South Carolina. The new District of Columbia chapter of the National Alliance of Black Interpreters (NAOBI-DC) would soon operate under the auspices of the NAOBI-DC moniker without an official board until the trailblazing efforts of Lisa Weems and a team of committed NAOBIans formed the first official board in 2001. Having built a strong relationship with the Potomac Chapter of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (PCRID), and the District of Columbia Area of Black Deaf Advocates (DCABDA), NAOBI-DC cemented the foundation for future administrations by by instilling lasting policies, and opportunities for partnership and cohesion through community service with said sister organizations.

NAOBI-DC has upheld a standard of quality professional development, community engagement, and the lightning rod of hope for aspiring African American interpreters. Through the pioneering efforts of Pamela Collin’s administration, our second President, NAOBI-DC experienced unprecedented growth with the explosion of professional development development initiatives, workshops, and the culminating Eastern Regional Conference (hosted alongside other stellar NAOBI chapters).

Our third president, Selma Patillo-Simms, carried the torch by ensuring community service and activism remained at the forefront of NAOBI-DC’s agenda. By partnering with the local police department to host a safety day for Deaf citizens and interpreters of culture, we solidified our commitment to community engagement and empowerment with a proactive solution towards cultivating a healthy understanding between law enforcement, the community, and interpreters.

Kafi Lemons, our beloved two-termed President, innovated a new paradigm of business operating procedures which enabled her to implement an annual conference, along with a host of annual activities and events the membership wholeheartedly supported. Additionally, Kafi ushered the NAOBI Cares Summit in partnership with the New York chapter; the national soiree affair, the 15-Year Anniversary and professional development conference, an annual interpreter field fair, along with another resurgent growth in membership and participation.

Our current administration has propelled the momentum of our predecessors by honoring the annual initiatives, commitments, and conferences that separate NAOBI-DC from other service-centered organizations. With a commitment to civic engagement, professional development, moral support, and interpersonal empowerment for both Deaf and hearing aspiring Black interpreters, we are looking forward to a future brighter than our collective wisdom combined, and a solid road built by each former administration of forward-thinkers and fearless NAOBIans.