The original inspiration, if you go back far enough, is my own upbringing, my own past. I’m from a poor family myself. We immigrated twice, first from Russia to Israel, when the Soviet Union collapsed, and Israel was another place where it was very difficult for immigrants to integrate. Xenophobia there was brutal and we did not find a lot of economic opportunity. And then we moved to the United States looking for the same thing: a better life when I was 11 years old. Eventually I became a social worker and met lots of families, especially women-led families, that went through the same challenges. When we talk about immigrants, a lot of people have a very negative view, in part shaped by media, about immigrants being people who don’t contribute, or people who don’t have a lot to give. The women I was hoping to serve had a lot of doors slammed in their faces due to systemic barriers, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and even in a field like interpreting, which relies on an immigrant workforce, many employers had a negative view of low income women. Having come from a low income family, and having been homeless myself, I knew that wasn’t true. To me, it was always obvious that it was circumstantial, that it was systemic, that there was nothing wrong with them. And I think that’s the kind of thing that makes sense intellectually for a lot of people, but there’s a lot of unconscious bias that people aren’t aware of. This is a population that is dismissed, underestimated, a lot of the time. But I couldn’t do that. Because that would be underestimating myself. So to me, it was a no brainer that there’s this incredible talent pool in low-income communities, and all they need to succeed is a little extra support. The playing field will never be leveled. That’s a huge undertaking, because the barriers they face are enormous. But we can do a little bit to take the edge off everything that’s working against them. For example, making our program free, because money is a huge barrier. We provide on-site childcare, another biggie. Everything is at no charge. We help with transportation, everything from coordinating carpools to bus passes to gas cards to fixing a flat tire - anything that gets in the way of someone getting to class. And our training is not just to learn the skills of interpreting, but everything a woman would need to get a running start in translation as a field: it includes career coaching, mentoring, up to and including direct job placement.