Meet the Council
The Language Access Advisory Council assists the Executive Director of the Office of Language Access by providing input on: implementation and compliance with Hawai`i’s language access laws; the quality of oral and written language services provided under the law; and the adequacy of a state agency or covered entity’s dissemination and training of its employees likely to have contact with Limited English Proficient (LEP) persons, its policies and procedures for language services, its competency in working effectively with in-person and telephone interpreters, and its understanding of the dynamics of interpretation between clients, providers, and interpreters.
Mr. Inocelda is the president of the Inter-Agency Council for Immigrant Services which was instrumental in the passage of the language access bill. He has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Hawai`i. He is employed by the Susannah Wesley Community Center where he has served in various program management and administrative functions since 1982. He has worked with limited and non-English speakers, the elderly, public housing residents, and persons with serious mental illnesses.
Mr. Ohta has been working for the Hawai`i State Department of Health as its Affirmative Action Officer since 1981. He has worked with schools, universities, enforcement agencies, and others to improve access for limited English-speaking persons. Mr. Ohta brings to the council his knowledge of contacts with advocates, organizations, and agencies in other parts of the U.S.
Serafin “Jun” Colmenares is the Executive Director of the Office of Language Access, State of Hawai`i, a position he has held since the office was established in 2007. He is a graduate of the Mindanao State University and holds a Master’s degree in public health from the University of Hawai`i as well as M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in political science from the University of Delhi in India. He was a professor at the Mindanao State University in the Philippines prior to his family’s move to Hawai`i in 1988. In Hawai`i, he held positions at the State Executive Office on Aging, Hawai`i Community Foundation and Hawai`i Medical Services Association, and lectured at Leeward Community College and Chaminade University. Dr. Colmenares also conducted research at the East-West Center Population Institute and at the University of Hawai`i’s Center for Philippine Studies. He is actively involved in Hawai`i’s Filipino community and is an officer or board member of several Filipino organizations.
Mr. Hoshijo has a long time interest in and commitment to civil rights, with a strong interest in language issues. In 1995, he was one of the organizers of the Council on Language Planning and Policy, composed of language rights advocates, representatives of state and county agencies, teachers and experts with expertise in applied linguistics and English as a Second Language (“ESL”), Hawaiian language immersion advocates, interpreters, translators, immigrant and refugee service providers, and community organizations brought together by a commitment to recognition of language rights and development of language resources. In 1995, he was appointed to serve as an HCRC Commissioner, and in January 1997 was appointed Executive Director. Mr. Hoshijo earned a law degree at the University of California, Davis – King Hall.
Executive Director, Disability and Communication Access Board (DCAB) – Ex Officio
Ms. Francine Wai is the Executive Director of the Disability and Communication Access Board (DCAB) for the State of Hawai`i. DCAB is the ADA (Americans with Disability Act) Coordination agency for the State of Hawaii and is responsible for providing technical assistance and voluntary compliance for all disability rights laws in the State of Hawai`i. She received her BA in Public Policy from Pomona College, a Graduate Diploma in Community Health from the University of Toronto, and an MA in Health Policy and Management from Harvard University. Ms.Wai (DCAB) is an ex officio member of the Office of Language Access (OLA). DCAB’S involvement with the OLA revolves around communication issues for the deaf, hard of hearing, deaf blind, and speech impaired populations.
Mr. Asuncion works as a program planner for the Hawai`i County Office of Aging. He previously worked as an immigration information specialist for the Hawaii County Office of Management, and as a program evaluator/trainer for the Hawai`i/American Samoa Bilingual Education Support Center.
Born in Manila, Philippines, Ms. Melba Bantay has been with Catholic Charities Hawai`i since 1985. She has been the Program Director of Catholic Charities’ Immigration Services for the past 24 years and also the Program Director of the CCH’s Employment Core Services for Immigrants and Refugee Program for more than 20 years. She loves to travel, has visited 19 countries and lived in five of them.
Melba is accredited by the Board of Immigration Appeals since 1994 to represent immigration clients before the USCIS. She earned her B.A. in Commerce from Far Eastern University in Manila, an M.A. in Religious Studies from Maryknoll School of Theology in New York, and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Hawai`i.
She lived and worked as a missionary in Guatemala and Nicaragua using the Paulo Freire’s approach to education and leadership formation, and worked with Spanish Jesuit priests in the formation of the Basic Christian Communities among the poor in Managua, Nicaragua. Melba was the Formation Director of the Maryknoll Sisters in New York before she moved to Hawai`i in the early 80’s. Her daughter and son in law live in Hawai`i.
Ms. Rebeca Zamora is the newly appointed member of the Language Access Advisory Council representing a professional interpreter organization. Rebeca was born and raised in Costa Rica and is a registered Spanish court interpreter with the Hawai`i State Judiciary. She has been a member of Hawai`i Interpreters Action Network (HIAN) since 2009.
Currently she works for the Hawai`i Immigrant Justice Center as a community consultant in the Hispanic Family Violence Awareness Project, and with Lionbridge Technologies interpreting at individual hearings for the Executive Office for Immigration Review.
CEO, Network Enterprises
President, Junior League of Honolulu
Ms. Jennifer Li Dotson was born and raised in Hawai`i and graduated from Punahou School. She received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and her master’s degree from the London School of Economics. Her family is first generation from Vietnam. She speaks fluent Cantonese and studied Mandarin Chinese at Beijing Teacher’s College, National Chengchi University in Taiwan, and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Jennifer is CEO of Network Enterprises, a non-profit organization established in 1985 to provide vocational rehabilitation, job training, job placement and support services to persons in Hawai`i with physical, social, economic or intellectual or cognitive challenges. She is also President of the Junior League of Honolulu an organization of women committed to promoting volunterism, developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers.
Mindy has a BA in Spanish and an MA in linguistics. She worked full-time as a court interpreter in Los Angeles County for over twenty-four years. She is certified by the American Translators Association to translate from Spanish to English and is a court interpreter certified by the Federal, California, and Hawai`i Courts. She has been living on Kaua`i for eight years and now works as a freelance translator over the internet. She is one of the court interpreter trainers for the Hawai`i Judiciary and is a member of the Supreme Court Committee on Court Interpreters and Language Access. Mindy is the current President of Hawai`i Interpreter Action Network (HIAN).
Ms. Pat Harpstrite retired from teaching Spanish at the Leeward Community College in 1998 and became a Federally Certified Court Interpreter that same year. Since then, she has been an interpreter in Federal, State and Immigration Courts in Hawai`i. In 2007, her federal certification qualified her as a Hawai`i State Judiciary Master Certified Court Interpreter (Tier 6). She also works as a medical, community and conference interpreter, and has done legal, business and literary translation.
Pat is active in interpreter/translator professional organizations on both local and national levels. She is currently Vice-President of Hawai`i Interpreter Action Network (HIAN) and is an Associate Member of the American Translators Association (ATA).
She is also a member of the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators (NAJIT). With M. Alohalani Boido, Pat has co-authored several articles for national interpreter professional publications, including Proteus (NAJIT) and the Interpreter’s Voice (ATA).
Margarita Hopkins was born into a multi-cultural family (Spanish, Chinese and Malay) in Southern Leyte, Philippines. After graduating with a degree in accounting on her home island, she moved to the island of Mindanao where she met her future husband, a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer. She subsequently worked as a language instructor for Peace Corps and became skilled in teaching both a foreign language and cross-cultural awareness. Her work in the Peace Corps was the start of a long career in international and community development including a graduate degree in agricultural economics, long-term jobs in the northern Philippines, Kuwait, Alabama, Oregon and finally Hawai`i. Language accessibility has frequently been an issue in her working environments.
She was Hawai`i County’s economic development specialist responsible for agriculture development for over 20 years. She is acutely aware that it is essential for agricultural workers, which come from many countries to have access to information and instructions in forms that they can readily understand.
Dr. Ruth Mabanglo is professor and coordinator of the Filipino Language and Philippine Literature program at the University of Hawaiʻi.
Ruth is an internationally-known Filipino poet, writer, translator, and scholar. She has been publishing poetry for over 30 years and has received numerous literary awards and honors, most recently the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature Hall of Fame Award, the 1992 Commission on Filipino Language “Makata ng Taon” (Poet of the Year) for the poem “Gahasa” (Rape), and the Manila Critics Circle 1990 National Book Award for Poetry for “Mga Liham ni Pinay” (The Letters of Pinay). Mabanglo has also published many academic works. She is the current president of the Filipino Association of University Women.
As Deputy Director of Pacific Gateway Center, Terrina Wong is actively involved with programs and initiatives that empower immigrants, refugees, and low-income residents of Hawaiʻi. She directs the ESL programs and teaches ESL weekly to immigrant farmers and their families in Kunia. She is bilingual in English and French – having lived and studied in France, and being active with the French community in Hawaiʻi. Her family is a host family to East-West Center students and has hosted students from Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, and Nepal. She received her Master’s degree in Education from the University of Hawaiʻi and has been a committed educator of over 25 years in the teaching and learning of global issues and world cultures. Because of her work at Pacific Gateway Center, she is now living global issues – having acquired many first-hand experiences dealing with immigration, human rights violations like human trafficking, and helping those who have been marginalized because of a significant lack of language access.
Ms. Mary Santa Maria is a Public Health Educator with the Maui District Health Office and the Chronic Disease Prevention Branch of the State Department of Health. She is involved with language access, medical interpreting training, and health services access for Limited English Proficient persons at community and state agencies. She holds a master’s degree in public health from the University of Hawai`i at Manoa. She is a trained interpreter and conducts interpreter training programs through the UH Maui College Edventure program.
Limited English Proficient (LEP) community representative – vacant
Hawaiian Language advocacy organization – vacant