Meet the Team

Founder & CEO

Maya Hess, Ph.D.

“Protecting translators and interpreters at risk protects all of us!”

Maya is the Founder and CEO of Red T. As a forensic linguist on many high-profile terrorism trials, she witnessed firsthand the extreme vulnerability of the language profession. Seeing an interpreter unjustly convicted of aiding and abetting a terrorist organization, Maya could no longer stand by. She went on to study criminal justice and turned her dissertation into action in the form of Red T. Since 2010, she has been calling for a paradigm shift in how translators and interpreters are perceived and treated, advocating for linguists at risk by promoting policies and laws that protect them on a global scale.

Members of the Board

Chair

Vigdis Eriksen

“Like journalists, translators deserve enhanced protection under international law. Let’s make it happen!”

Vigdis is one of Red T’s founding board members and serves as our chairperson. As president and CEO of Eriksen Translations Inc., she supports all of Red T’s communication needs, including the translation of Conflict Zone Field Guides and Open Letters. With a strong passion for language, Vigdis has dedicated her life to building her award-winning, powerhouse translation company. Her devotion to her business has made her a tireless advocate for the protection of linguists, and Vigdis pledges to continue providing support to help Red T communicate its messages to multilingual audiences.

Directors

Beatrice Beccari

“As a translator, it was natural for me to feel a strong affinity for this cause and with the global community of translators and interpreters.”

Beatrice is Red T’s treasurer and acting social media researcher. She reads through dozens of articles every day to help us stay informed so we can keep our Twitter and Facebook pages up to date. Beatrice has served as a Senior Legal Secretary and in-house translator at prominent international corporate law firms. She is fluent in four languages and has over 30 years of experience translating legal materials in the U.S. and Europe. She also regularly provides pro bono translation/interpretation assistance to humanitarian and political asylum seekers.

Peter J. Byrnes

“True peace results from good communication. Translators and interpreters in conflict zones are instrumental to this process and must be protected.”

Peter is Red T’s marketing and branding specialist extraordinaire. He is the owner and co-founder of Brooklyn-based design firm Lúgh Studio, whom we must thank for our website design, advertisements, and the typesetting of Conflict Zone Field Guides. For over 20 years, Peter has been a graphic designer and consultant specializing in international visual branding. Innovation is in his genes and, as such, he is a partner in several start-up businesses, an experienced actor and teacher, co-founder of The Hello Herman Project, and the founding art director of the award-winning Native American media platform, Indian Country Media Network.

Muhammad Muslih, Ph.D.

“The dangers to linguists in high-risk settings are immeasurable—every word is a time bomb.”

Muhammad is a Professor of Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies at C.W. Post College of Long Island University, and an Associate Member of the University Middle East Seminar of Columbia University. He is the author and co-author of numerous books and articles; his current research focuses on contemporary Islamic political thought. He is also a sought-after lecturer, TV commentator, consultant at several NGOs, including USAID, and a two-time recipient of grants from the U.S. Institute of Peace. He has worked as a translator for the UN Security Council and served as a linguistic expert witness at terrorism trials. Muhammad is a very busy man, but when he can, he offers Red T exemplary cultural advice and his linguistic genius.

Naomi Robbins

“By protecting linguists, Red T protects the power of language to break down barriers and forge connections.“

Naomi is our valued wordsmith. Hers are often the first and last set of eyes on what we write, and she is particularly active in our Open Letter Project. She is thrilled to be part of Red T, which she views as a tireless force for good in an arena close to her heart. Naomi began her professional life in business, specializing in marketing/product management at home and abroad, and earning an MBA along the way. But she quickly realized her true passion was language, so she redirected her focus and got an MA in Translation. During the 30 years since, she has been translating, interpreting, and editing in Spanish, English, and French across a range of disciplines.

Advisory Board Members

Linda Fitchett

“Combining our individual skills can make this cause fly!”

When it comes to promoting awareness abroad, Linda is Red T’s go-to partner. A former president of the International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC), she is one of the founders and the chair of AIIC’s project to help interpreters in conflict zones. One of her group’s successes was the passage in the Council of Europe of a Members Declaration for the protection of conflict zone interpreters. Linda was a practicing conference interpreter for 37 years, 17 of them as a staff interpreter for the European Parliament. Her vast expertise in this field proves invaluable to Red T: Since 2010, she and Maya have co-presented at numerous conferences, as well as co-authored safety publications and other documents.

Roberto Lacayo

“Translators and interpreters are vital to journalists’ search for the truth.”

Roberto picks up the Red T microphone whenever there is a call for interviews in Spanish. He is a seasoned journalist with 20+ years’ experience and has received multiple Emmy awards, both as a news reporter and anchor at major US Spanish-language stations and in his current position as news director at Spectrum Noticias NY1, a 24-hour New York cable news channel. In these roles he has come to know all about the challenges facing interpreters and the fragility of “fixers” who accompany journalists in conflict zones. Nicaraguan by birth, Roberto’s love for his native tongue runs deep and in his spare time he can be found buried in the pages of Latin American literature.

James Lee

“Everyone has a story to tell. It is our responsibility to make sure those stories are told.”

James is our Visual Communications Manager, an amazing photographer and visual artist. He has provided us with powerful graphics both for the Red T website and the petition for a UN Resolution. A former marine, James can usually be found backpacking through Afghanistan and Iraq, photographing an ethnographic record of the local people. In the United States, he has taught international relations at San Francisco State University and works as an analyst specializing in qualitative research in the area of armed conflict. He is the co-author of Entry Point: Accessing Indigenous Perspectives During Complex Operations. James’ photography has been featured in The Sacramento Bee and SF State Magazine, as well as at the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery.

Eileen Raffo

“Working with Red T has given me hope in a world distraught by too many angry words.”

Eileen is always ready for a challenge. She is a branding and design expert who has left quite a mark on Red T. Applying her fine aesthetics and impeccable taste, she has created the Red T letterhead and thank-you cards, among other items. As a pioneer businesswoman who traveled extensively in all the Pacific Rim countries, she received an invitation to Mainland China in 1976, the first year it was opened to foreign buyers. In partnership with a Chinese businessman, something unheard of at the time, she produced “the sweater of the year.” All her dealings and cultural encounters on foreign soil made her well aware of the importance of translators and interpreters.

Interns

Fiona Mieles

“There are a lot of skeletons rattling around in the world’s closet; addressing this one is long overdue.”

Fiona is the latest in a long line of interns and volunteers at Red T. She has been dreaming of becoming a translator ever since a certain localization disaster claimed her favorite television program. After learning how severely her chosen profession can be misconstrued and that it was not just an abstract debate among scholars but a critical human rights issue, she decided to contribute her time. Fiona works behind the scenes on whatever task needs to be completed and gives new meaning to the term jack of all trades.