CLI's CEO smiles while answering interview questions such as "What women inspire you?"

A Spotlight on Woman-Owned Language Service Providers in the U.S. Today

Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation.

A lyric from a hit song, yes, and also a mantra for the language service industry. 

That’s because the language industry, as a whole, is lucky — several interpreting and translation companies were founded or are currently owned by female entrepreneurs. 

While we couldn’t find any hard and fast data, the industry does tend to skew female (68% of the interpreters we contract with are women, for example). This could explain why so many companies are woman-led. Start a business doing what you know.

Whatever the reason, we’re here for it. And we’re here to profile a few of those fearless females leading the U.S. language industry market.

Akorbi

Akorbi is featured on The American Dream, a series hosted by Eric Roberts. Akorbi CEO and co-founder Claudia Mirza discusses growing up in Colombia and how she and her husband started Akorbi.

Leader: Claudia Mirza, CEO and co-founder

Certifications: National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) certification; Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) certification

For Claudia Mirza, what started as an on-the-spot gig interpreting at an agricultural seminar in San Antonio, Texas, has blossomed into a global multilingual affair.

Since Akorbi’s founding in 2003, Mirza has expanded their service offerings to include interpreting and translation services, e-learning localization, staffing, and multilingual contact centers.

We wanted to list all of her accomplishments since founding Akorbi, but “How much time ya got?” popped into our heads because her accolades are as impressive as they are numerous.

But here are a few highlights that caught our eye:

  • 2015 Enterprising Women of the Year Award, Enterprising Women magazine
  • 2016 Business Woman of the Year, U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award
  • Top 40 under 40, Dallas Business Journal
  • 2018 Women’s Business Enterprise Star, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
  • Women Presidents Organization (WPO) board member

Language Services Associates

An overview of the language services Language Services Associates provides. The clip includes a brief interview with Laura K.T. Schriver, founder, chairperson, and CEO of LSA.

Leader: Laura K.T. Schriver, founder, chairperson, and CEO

Certifications: National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) certification; Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) certification

Like many women on this list, Laura K.T. Schriver began her career as an interpreter. As time went on, more and more people started asking Laura for interpreter recommendations.

This gave her an idea. 

With a phone line and a kitchen-counter-turned-desk, Language Services Associates was born out of her home in 1991.

Her business has flourished, and today LSA offers a range of language services, including remote interpreting, face-to-face interpreting, language assessments, and document translation.

Some of Laura’s accomplishments include:

  • 2009 Minority Business Leader, Philadelphia Business Journal
  • 2010 EY Entrepreneur of the Year
  • 2010 Enterprising Women of the Year Award, Enterprising Women magazine

Eriksen Translations

Eriksen Translations celebrates 30 years of business. Featuring images of employees and their cultural throughout the years, including Vigdis Eriksen, Eriksen Translations’ founder and CEO.

Leader: Vigdis Eriksen, founder and CEO

Certifications: Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) certification; the City of New York Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) certification

Originally a Norwegian translator, Vigdis Eriksen noticed a dearth of language services for the Scandinavian languages. So she founded Eriksen Translations in 1986 in Brooklyn, New York.

While Eriksen focused on Scandinavian languages early, after acquiring AdEx Translations International in 1994, the company expanded its language offerings. Eriksen specializes in translation, localization, transcreation, multilingual typesetting, and interpreting.

A few cool things about Vigdis:

  • Founding board member and current chair of Red T, an organization that advocates for the rights of interpreters and translators in high-risk settings
  • Fluent in English and her native tongue Norwegian, and proficient in French and Dutch 
  • Member of the Women Presidents Organization (WPO)
  • Former national board member of the Norwegian-American Chamber of Commerce 

Related: From Past to Present: Women Interpreters Continue to Lead the Way

CommGap International Language Services

Leader: Lelani Craig, CEO and president

Certifications: Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) certification

Lelani Craig began her language career at the tender age of just 14. The sheriff in her Idaho town asked her to help translate at the local jail. It wasn’t until she entered high school, however, that the principal told her to think bigger (like interpreting at the United Nations big). She credits that conversation for her career path in translation.

Lelani started CommGap International Language Services in 2000. They now offer in-person, telephone, and video interpreting; voice-overs; localization; consulting and training; as well language assessments.

Lelani’s industry involvement:

  • Association of Language Companies (ALC), executive board of directors
  • Silicon Slopes Localization, board member
  • Women in Localization, chapter manager, Utah
  • Lango, Inc., advisory board member

Certified Languages International

CLI CEO Kristin Quinlan discusses the women who inspire her on International Women’s Day.

Leader: Kristin Quinlan, CEO and majority owner

Certifications: Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) certification

Kristin Quinlan started her tenure at Certified Languages International in 2000. After working in a variety of positions to get to know the business, she took over as CEO from Bill Graeper (CLI’s founder) in 2009.

Since then, Kristin has shepharded in video interpreting and grown the business to what it’s known for today: great customer service, flexibility, and quality. CLI offers telephone and video interpreting, document translations, and language assessments.

What Kristin does when she’s not working:

  • Association of Language Companies (ALC), executive board of directors
  • 7000 Languages, board member
  • Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL), board member
  • ALC Chair for Advocacy and Standards

Future leaders in the language service industry

Women leaders continue to rise with leaps and bounds. Since 2007, the number of women-owned businesses has increased by 58%, with 4 out of every 10 businesses in the U.S. now owned by women. And in 2018, women of color accounted for 47% of all women-owned companies. 

We’re thrilled to celebrate these companies and the women who lead them as we look to the future.

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