From left to right: Greg, Marta, Avlot, Yoshie and David.

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Culturesmart, Inc. Training Team

Our interpreter program trainers are also practicing medical interpreters and therefore can relate to their bilingual participants. They help increase motivation, learning skills and confidence of participants through an experiential approach, which emphasizes the utilization and refinement of skills that are already present. When we engage participants in active learning, they become more confident are more likely to succeed. When participants are motivated and confident, their performance will likely improve.

Our expert Cross-Cultural trainers are also experienced trainers who bring exceptional learning opportunities to each session. Their approach is skill-based, and their activities offer an exciting opportunity for small group interaction and skill-based learning. These expert educators work with a wide range of healthcare specialties and cultural populations, fostering dialogue among participants and cross-fertilization of ideas and strategies. Their goal is to increase learning efficiency and the transfer of problem-solving skills to other content areas and life experiences.

Gregory Figaro

Gregory Figaro, a speaker of English, Haitian Creole, and French, founded Culturesmart in 1994. He worked as a medical interpreter for about ten years in dozens of New England healthcare facilities. Greg draws on his practical interpreting experience when he collaborates with healthcare organizations to create individualized programs that improve the quality and efficiency of interpreter services. He works continually on designing new training curricula and conducts workshops and seminars throughout the United States.

Greg’s background includes developing and running Culturesmart’s Medical Interpreter Training Program for Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation during 2000-2005. Culturesmart restructured the program with underwriting from the Foundation, and Greg served as its lead trainer.

As program coordinator for the Office of Multicultural Health in the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, he managed assignments of interpreters and translators contracting with hundreds of state agencies. In addition to creating and delivering customized training programs for numerous institutions, Greg manages Culturesmart operations and staff. Greg received his B.S. degree through the Entrepreneurship and New Venture Management Program at Northeastern University’s College of Business Administration.

Carolina Grooscors-Arnold

Carolina Grooscors-Arnold has rejoined Culturesmart as a lead trainer and Spanish language coach. Carolina worked with Culturesmart during 1999-2005, drawing on her experience as a medical translator and interpreter. She has provided simultaneous and consecutive interpretation at conferences, hospitals, health centers, clinics, public forums, and educational workshops, and has run her own medical translation business for over 10 years.

Carolina’s training experience includes medical interpreting and language programs at several Boston-area hospitals as well as teaching Spanish for medical students at Boston University School of Medicine. Carolina, who was born in Caracas, Venezuela, has also lived in Bolivia and Canada. She graduated from Emerson College with a B.A. in theatre/psychology. Carolina also holds a Spanish Instructor Certificate from Berlitz School of Languages and a Certificate in Advanced Translation from UMass Boston.

Carolina has twice participated in medical mission trips to the Dominican Republic through the University of Southern Maine, augmenting and coordinating the interpreting efforts of Peace Corps volunteers. She traveled with her husband, a nurse practitioner. Carolina describes herself as a voracious reader and says she loves movies, particularly foreign-language films. She also enjoys trips to the beach, playing the piano, and spending time with her three dogs.

Rachel Herring, M.A.

Rachel, a Culturesmart language coach, uses her Spanish skills as a freelance interpreter, working primarily at Cambridge Health Alliance, where she also takes an active role in training interpreters, informing the hospital community about interpreter services, and participating in best practices workshops. She is an active board member of MMIA and developed a two-day course on improving memory and accuracy skills. This course has been offered, among other places, at Catholic Charities.

Rachel's path to interpreting began in rural Illinois, where she lived in a town of 60 people and took her first Spanish class via satellite from San Antonio, Texas. She went on to receive a B.A. degree in Spanish and English from Truman State University, and an M.A. in Translation and Interpretation from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. She studied abroad in Spain and Mexico, and lived in Nicaragua for two years, working in a health education center. Rachel and her husband, a composer, have been living in the Boston area since 2003. When she is not interpreting or taking care of her baby daughter, Rachel enjoys reading and volunteering in various settings, including occasionally serving as a poll worker and precinct clerk in Somerville.

Cathi Kroon

Cathi’s work at Culturesmart with Spanish-speaking medical interpreters draws on her 10 years of experience at Yale-New Haven Hospital, where she designed and managed the interpreter services program. She recently moved to Yale-New Haven Health, a three-hospital consortium, where her work includes interpreter assessment and training, as well as collecting and disseminating data on language to ensure that appropriate linguistic support is available to patients.

Cathi became interested in languages while working as a nurse assistant in a summer job at a tuberculosis hospital in San Antonio, Texas. Spanish-speaking nurses coached her in helpful phrases and encouraged her to study Spanish. When she returned to Wichita State University for her senior year, Cathi completed enough courses for a minor in Spanish that complements her BME in music education. She later joined the Peace Corps and spent two years in the Dominican Republic as a teacher-trainer.

Other travel has brought Cathi to Hungary, to learn about Zoltán Kodály’s philosophy of teaching music, and to Portugal, where she taught English as a Second Language. Beyond studying Spanish, Hungarian, Portuguese, and German, Cathi is an intermediate-level student of American Sign Language.

Lisa Morris, M.S.T.D.

Lisa Morris, MSTD is currently working as the Director of Cross Cultural Initiatives for the Office of Community Programs at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. One of her key tasks is the coordination of the delivery of a Medical Interpreter Training Program in collaboration with the Massachusetts State Medicaid Program. In addition, she has worked for several years as an over-the-phone interpreter for Language Line Services as a Portuguese Interpreter. Previously, Lisa was the Coordinator of Medical Interpreting for the New England region of a Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare. She has been interpreting since 1985 in the medical arena. She began her training career in 1991 at Bristol Community College as a program coordinator and instructor. Since that time she has become an adjunct faculty member at Cape Cod Community College. During her interpreting career she has trained more than 1000 community interpreters throughout the State of Massachusetts.

Lisa is dedicated to enhancing access to services in all industries, especially healthcare, for diverse populations. Lisa is an active member of the Massachusetts Medical Interpreters Association, and serves as the secretary to the National Council on Interpreting in Healthcare. Lisa has presented on the topic of medical interpreting and healthcare access on various occasions in the United States and in Canada. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Romance Languages from Boston College and a Master of Science in Training & Development from Lesley College. Finally, Lisa enjoys being a "Mom", cooking, and marathon running for a cause in her spare time.

Yoshie Ng

Yoshie Ng is a Culturesmart language coach of Japanese, Cantonese, and Mandarin who works as an interpreter at Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston. Yoshie’s childhood as a self-described Army brat gave her many opportunities to begin developing language skills early in life: she was born in Taiwan and lived in Japan as a child. Yoshie moved to the U.S. in the 1970s and found her first job, in the Personal Custody Department of State Street Bank, when she walked into an employment agency office at Boston’s Government Center after a sightseeing tour. She worked at the bank for eight years, leaving to take care of her three children until they were all old enough for school. Yoshie also puts her 30 years of multilingual experience to use at the Boston University Center for Professional Education Medical and Legal Interpreter Program and is a long-time member of the Massachusetts Medical Interpreters Association. Yoshie has a degree in Intercultural Communications from Sophia University in Japan. She enjoys easing the stress of difficult days by tap dancing, playing the organ, and working on jigsaw puzzles.

Alyona Nossik, M. Ed.

Alyona Nossik, M.Ed., brings to the training program a 30-year career as an educator, interpreter and translator in Russian, but also a clear understanding of the critical nature of interpretation. As the Program Coordinator for Beth Israel Hospital and the Harvard Community Health Plan, Alyona was responsible for scheduling interpreters for the extensive network of hospital and specialty clinics, as well as providing medical interpretation for Russian-speaking patients. In her current position as Program Manager for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts - Office for Refugees and Immigrants, Alyona monitors and coordinates activities and services that continually strive to improve the state refugee resettlement program.

Avlot Quessa

Avlot Quessa, B.A. has a bachelor degree in Linguistics and Spanish culture. He was born in Haiti and is an accomplished Haitian Creole and Spanish medical interpreter with over 10 years of experience. He currently works as an interpreter trainer at Cambridge Hospital and at Cambridge College in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Avlot assists in trainee language screening and does language coaching for Haitian Creole speaking course participants.

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