MEET YOUR 2019-2021 BOARD

Katie studied interpreting in the Midwest and then began her journey with Montana’s Deaf and interpreter community in 2011.  Having lived, worked, and networked in a variety of communities across Montana, Katie has and continues to support the community as a whole.  She has previously worked as a K-12 educational interpreter for three different school districts and as a Family Advisor serving the early intervention efforts of the Montana School for the Deaf and Blind (MSDB).  Working in the field and realizing the significant epidemic of language deprivation plaguing the younger d/Deaf population prompted Katie to return to school where she completed her bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Western Governors University and her master’s degree in Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Education from the University of Northern Colorado.  In 2018, Katie sidestepped her career by accepting her current role as a DHH Outreach Consultant for MSDB serving the south-central counties of Montana.  In this unique role Katie supports interpreters by educating families about their child’s communication accessibility rights in a variety of settings, advising school districts about the complexities of sign language educational interpreting, and consulting with K-12 educational interpreters in her region.  Katie continues to support Montana’s demands working as a part-time freelance interpreter. Prior to becoming your MRID President in 2019, Katie served as Treasurer for MRID since 2015 where she worked diligently to re-stabilize MRID’s financials, including record keeping and financial reporting.  Katie is a collaborative and supportive member of both the Montana Association of the Deaf and Montana Hands & Voices.  She also serves on the Montana LEAD-K Committee and the Montana Hands & Voices Board in hopes of a soon future of improved services for Montana children who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Sandy currently lives in Kalispell, MT. She is originally from Chicago, IL and grew up in a large traditional Mexican family. Sandy learned English when she was about 8 years old and has a deep appreciation for language and culture. She is the youngest of 10 and has enjoyed every moment being a part of a large family. She became interested in ASL and Deaf Culture when she learned that her niece was born Deaf. She attended ASLIS (American Sign Language Interpreting School in Seattle) where she graduated from their 4 year Deaf Studies/ITP in 2007. She had worked in the Deaf, Deaf-Blind And Trilingual (English, Spanish and ASL) communities in Seattle. She moved to Kalispell a little over 9 years ago so her husband (who is from Kalispell) can take over their long standing family business.

 

She currently works as a nationally certified freelance trilingual interpreter not only in the Flathead Area but throughout the state and sometimes out of state. She also works as a VRI (Video Remote Interpreter) from home.  This allows her time at home with her family and the ability to work in the Deaf and Spanish communities which she loves and enjoys very much. Sandy is married and has two daughters and enjoys rafting, hiking, camping and dancing with her family.

 

Sandy Is serving on the Montana Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf board as Vice-President is looking forward to her involvement with the organization and working alongside our Deaf communities across the state.

Shannon Blachly

Secretary

Shannon was raised in Walnut Creek, California.  Having grown up intrigued by sign language, she chose to pursue a career in Deaf Studies in college. This brought her to California State University of Northridge, where she received a Bachelor's degree in Deaf Studies with a concentration in Community Service. While completing her studies, she also participated in numerous community development projects and equal access building activities as a member of the d/Deaf/hard of hearing and hearing sorority Alpha Sigma Theta.

 

While attending the Interpreter Training Program at Pierce College, she was accepted into the rigorous interpreting internship at Mt. San Antonio College. After completing her internship in 2017, Shannon worked as a staff interpreter at Mt. San Antonio College and gained additional work experience as a VRS interpreter. In 2019, she became EIPA certified with a score of 4.0 and passed the written exam. 

 

One year later Shannon, her partner Aaron, their German shepherd and calico cat uprooted and moved to Bozeman where she has been working as an interpreter in the area. In her free time she loves snowboarding, playing soccer, reading Stephen King novels and crafting. Shannon’s next goals are to become RID Certified and to obtain a Masters degree in d/Deaf/hard of hearing school counseling.

Kat has lived in Montana since 2017,she is formally from Sacramento, Ca. Prior to interpreting Kat was a pre-nursing major and decided that her heart just wasn't in it and so took back up signing classes and fell in love again with sign language.  Kat went to school at American River College (ARC) and attended and graduated from their ITP. She was a member of SavRID the local RID chapter there. Kat has passed her written EIPA and is working toward meeting the state standard for her EIPA skills.  Kat worked after graduation as an interpreter at ARC for 2 years before moving to Montana. Once Kat got to Montana, she was added to the board as the Co-treasurer. She is currently working as a Para Educator while working on her B.A in Special Education and her teaching credential. Since moving to Montana Kat has helped set up with help from the Deaf community in Missoula the Missoula Signing social that happens on Saturdays. Kat also interprets at ZooTown Church every other Sunday. She is excited to be on the board again serving as Treasurer for the next 2 years and can't wait to see what awesome things will happen. 

Trisha Smith learned a little ASL in the fourth grade and has been hooked ever since. She has been an interpreter for nearly 30 years and is passionate about the profession.  In 1989 she graded from her ITP in Southern California and interpreted at a magnet High School for a few years before working in the post-secondary settings. In 1994 she moved to Mid-Missouri where she was hired as a staff interpreter and worked with a referral agency in a variety of settings. She has been in beautiful Montana since 2003. Trisha holds national certification and works as an independent contractor. In addition to independent contracting, Trisha is a lifelong learner and dedicated educator at Montana State University, Museum of the Rockies, and offers community ASL workshops and classes. She has served on the MRID Board in various roles over the years.Trisha resides in the Bozeman area with her husband. They enjoy time with their four grown kids and grandson. She is excited to serve on the MRID board again and looks forward to connecting with you. 

Sally Sheeks is new to Montana and has been actively networking with her new community.  As a Portland State University student majoring in Community Development and minoring in Civic Leadership, she had the opportunity to intern with two organizations (non-profit and for profit), creating connections, and integrating creative solutions with local partners.  Sally currently is finishing up her Honors Thesis on ADA compliance with the City of Billings and brings a unique perspective as a CODA.  Growing up in rural Eastern Oregon in a deaf household, ASL is her first language and interpreting is something she has always been involved with.  She began interpreting professionally for Head Start and the local school district over 18 years ago.  When ASL became recognized as a second language to meet the Oregon High School language requirements, Sally became a High School ASL Teacher.  The culture of the city would draw Sally away from the rural countryside to urban communities, where she continued to volunteer her interpreting services in the medical, and education community.  Sally also has over 18 years of experience working with policy and regulatory requirements in her day-to-day career in government.  In addition, she works for the Billings School District as an Interpreter for the Deaf.  Sally is excited to serve as the Professional Development Chair, building and stimulating visionary thinking towards a people-centered development.

Sally Sheeks

Professional Development

Kyle Pettis

Media Chair

Kyle has lived in Montana since 2013 and has been blessed starting his interpreting career at Montana School for the Deaf and Blind (MSDB). His journey into this field began when he took an ASL class at North Idaho College (NIC). Being hooked from that first semester, he realized he was called to be an interpreter. After 3 years at NIC he transferred to Idaho State University (ISU) to complete his B.S. degree in Educational Interpreting. His internship at MSDB led him to a full-time interpreting position 3 years later.  For the next few years the EIPA written and performance was his focus and after a great deal of hard work, determination, and assistance from mentors we passed both tests! Kyle has served on the MRID Board as Fundraiser Chair for 4 years and now is thrilled to be back and serve again this time as Media Chair using his tech background. On his down time Kyle enjoys going on long walks listening to worship music, attending Bible studies and church activities or watching a good movie or just chillin’ with a friend. He has even started hiking and is loving it! Kyle’s next major goal is to earn a 4.0 on the EIPA.

Delaney is new to the area, having just moved from Fort Worth, Texas. Growing up she was always interested in sign language and Deaf culture, and in high school she finally had the opportunity to take ASL classes. One of her teachers was an interpreter, which is how she got introduced to the profession. That teacher helped her get more involved in the community and develop her ASL skills. After graduating from high school, she went directly into an ITP (Interpreter Training Program) at the local community college. She got a great education there from multiple Deaf instructors, Deaf mentors and interpreter instructors as well. After graduating from her ITP in 2017, she got BEI Certified (the Texas interpreter certification, comparable with RID) and started working for an interpreting agency in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. She moved to Montana after falling in love with Montana while visiting her parents who recently moved to the Helena area. She was dedicated to making the move possible even with the drastic drop in interpreter jobs in comparison to Texas. She landed in Bozeman, while working for Belgrade School District as a staff interpreter. She is enjoying her time in Montana and is excited to get to know more people in the community. This is her first time serving on a board and she is ready to get started!

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