Holding considerable expertise in interpreting and translating in Spanish, Elna de la Bandera embarked on her career with studies at Colby College, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, with honors, in 1958. She then joined the U.S. Foreign Service as a secretary and translator in Argentina and Uruguay from 1959 to 1963 and the Inter-American Council of Commerce and Production in Uruguay as a translator from 1966 to 1967. In 1968, she began work as a freelance interpreter and translator in the United States and Peru, roles she held until 1986. During this time, she contributed her skills as the senior editor of the Princeton International Translations from 1980 to 1984 and as a secretary for Wysoker, Glassner & Weingartner from 1984 to 1986.
In 1986, Ms. de la Bandera became a translator, interpreter and test administrator with the New Jersey Judiciary Court System. For work in these positions, she was certified as a Spanish interpreter in the U.S. court systems and accredited in both Spanish to English and English to Spanish translation by the American Translators Association. She remained in these roles until 1996, and, during this period, she was additionally active as an oral examiner and federal court interpreter, a consultant and coordinator for the interpreting services of the state of Massachusetts, a consulting court interpreter for the state of Washington and a consultant to the National Center for State Courts. In 1991, she obtained a Master of Arts in Spanish translation from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and spent time as member of the university’s temporary faculty.
Today Ms. de la Bandera operates as a freelance interpreter and translator, and she continues working primarily with the New Jersey Judiciary and the Administrative Office of the Courts of New Jersey, as well as various other interpreting and translation agencies. At various points between 2002 and 2009, she continued her earlier work as an oral examiner and federal court interpreter. In more recent years, she was a lead rater for the oral Spanish court interpreter exams in the states of Tennessee and Missouri and was the supervisor for the exams in Maryland from 2011 to 2012. Her work rating the oral exams was a moment of particular pride and accomplishment for Ms. de la Bandera.
Ms. de la Bandera stands out in the field for the experiences she gained during her eight years working in South America with the U.S. Foreign Service, which have continued to motivate her throughout her career. In order to keep abreast of developments in her field, she has maintained affiliation with a number of professional organizations. These include the National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators and the American Translators Association. She has also been inducted into Phi Sigma Iota, the highest academic honor in the field of foreign languages, and Alpha Delta Pi. Looking toward the future, Ms. de la Bandera has plans to continue working in the interpretation and translation fields in order to help others who can’t speak English.
Ms. de la Bandera was born in Rahway, New Jersey, to father Laertes Gardner Fortenbaugh and mother Clara Hansen, who provided critical encouragement and support during her education and career. She also credits her Norwegian grandparents for her early inspiration in language by teaching her Norwegian. Since 1963, she has been happily married to her husband, Jorge Luis de la Bandera, who she met during her time in Uruguay. Together they are the proud parents of two children, Jorge Luis and Cristina Renee, and grandparents to four wonderful grandchildren, two granddaughters and two grandsons. In her free time, Ms. de la Bandera enjoys golf, writing, traveling and reading.