Meet Emily Brady-Santos


Emily Brady-Santos, Director of Interpreting & Translation

A linguaphile with an MBA in social entrepreneurship and MA in education, Ms. Brady-Santos directs the Institute’s Interpreting and Translation Department, managing and advocating for the faithful provision of language services in Buffalo and the surrounding areas.

What do you feel your role is as the Director of Interpreting and Translation at the Institute? Do you think your position has changed since starting here?

[EBS]: So, I would say that I have two main areas that I focus on.  One is the operations management of the department; supervising the staff and all of the things that that entails.  The other is business development and maintaining a relationship with our customers.  I would say I am split 50-50 focusing inward on what we are doing here and outward with clientele, future prospects and other opportunities.  The main thing that has changed is the development of the industry; with advancements in technology there have been a lot of opportunities and challenges within my tenure here—in response, we’ve developed and piloted a video interpretation program. Technology has a role in expanding language services – but it can never replace human translation. We provide fully human translation, which is so important, because machine translations are unreliable; no matter how good the apps get, they cannot replace professionals.   This is a message we constantly try to get out there, through education and outreach.

At Buffalo Without Borders 2017 with the Interpreting and Translation Team.

What are your academic credentials and career path before coming to the Institute? How have they prepared you for your position?

[EBS]: I obtained my bachelor’s in English with a Spanish minor.  After college, I worked in Higher Education—staying at Boston College in the Residence Life department there working on student conduct and educational programming.  I also completed a Master’s in Higher Education Administration while there as well.  From there, I taught English abroad in Spain for a few years and was able to experience teaching.  While in Spain, I volunteered with an agency that was resettling refugees from Africa; that’s when I realized that I wanted to be involved in the management of this type of organization.  I ended up going back to graduate school to complete an MBA in Social Entrepreneurship at Babson College—where they really advocated for the triple bottom line: people, planet and profits.

What would you say is the most rewarding thing about working at an organization like IIB?

[EBS]: I think that the work that we do benefits the local community, our city and individuals who come to us.  Immigrants and refugees are often portrayed as people that need our help, which we are there to provide, but they are also talented, intelligent, dynamic people that contribute to a much more interesting place to live and make our city more sustainable.  One of my favorite parts of the job is getting to know our interpreters because they have lived such interesting lives and are not just bi-lingual or multi-lingual, but bi-cultural, bringing with them an interesting perspective.  [Laughs.] I feel like the entire experience is rewarding, I really love working here and helping to create a more welcoming place.

What is the first word that comes to mind when I say “International Institute of Buffalo”?

[EBS]: Immigrants.

Do you speak any languages besides English? If so, what are they?

[EBS]: I speak Spanish fluently. [Laughs.] A lot of people ask me if I speak other languages because of my position, but thankfully since I work with hundreds of language experts I can get away with just knowing the two.

What is one accomplishment that you are most proud of? Why?

[EBS]: This is one of the hardest questions.  One of the things that often comes to mind when I see this question is running the Boston Marathon…twice.  I would definitely say that it was just as strenuous mentally as it was physically. 

Since the Institute works with diverse people from all over the world, can you share with us your own heritage?

[EBS]: My family is from Ireland on both sides, several generations back. Both of my parent’s grandparents came here; making me a fourth generation American citizen.  One relative on my mom’s side stayed in Ireland, so I still have cousins there, which is really cool.

Given the international nature of the Institute, have you traveled abroad? Any places on your bucket list?

[EBS]: Yes; I had always wanted to live abroad in a different culture, Spanish-speaking countries specifically, because of my familiarity with the language.  I lived in Spain for three years in my 20s, and I was able to go to about 19 different countries.  My favorite places that I have traveled to were Turkey and Morocco.  I want to do a little bit more traveling within the Americas; places that are a bit closer to home. 

If you could sit down with any historical figure, who would you choose? What is one question you would ask them?

[EBS]: I am not a huge history buff; since I was an English literature major in college, poetry is of great interest to me.  So, I think I would sit down with my favorite poet, Maya Angelou.  I don’t really have questions for her, I would just like to sit down and share a cup of tea or a meal and be with her.

Favorite international food?

[EBS]: Ethiopian or Thai.  I’m pretty happy at the West Side Bazaar, where I usually will get both.

Favorite book?

[EBS]: When I was younger, my favorite book was Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.  More recently, I would say Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.

What can you tell me about your life away from the Institute?

[EBS]: I recently got married and just bought a house, so I will be busy with home improvement projects for a while!  I love living in my hometown and the fact that Buffalo has changed a lot from when I grew up here.  I enjoy spending time with my family, working out, and good food—on the weekends, I try to get outside and be active.

Emily hiking the Niagara Gorge with her brother, sister-in-law and husband, Elmer.

What three traits would you say define you?

[EBS]: Thoughtful, Kind and Empathetic.