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LUNA Language Services, initially incorporated as Indianapolis Interpreters, Inc., was founded by Hoosier Christopher Waters, in 2001, with the purpose of providing language interpreting services for individuals with limited English proficiency, who often were immigrants or refugees relocating to Indiana. Early in 2014, the company embarked on a re-branding campaign as a result of our steady growth over the years, expanded geographical reach, and broader scope of language services. LUNA Languages Services gives us a new expansive and universal name to chart new language territories going forward.
To understand the evolution of the company, the seeds of Indianapolis Interpreters were actually planted when Chris Waters graduated from college and served in the Peace Corps. He lived in the Dominican Republic which became his home for nearly three years. He worked with farmers in rural regions as well as volunteering as a medical Spanish interpreter. The influence of this time in Chris’ life on his company’s values and business practices cannot go unmentioned. At LUNA we come to work with a mission to serve.
Upon his return to Indiana, Chris discovered a multi-lingual and diversified Indianapolis. He started interpreting at Methodist Hospital (now Indiana University Health) and after realizing the need for language services beyond Spanish and American Sign Language (ASL), decided to launch Indianapolis Interpreters in 2001. Chris immediately networked with experienced interpreters and also reached out to locally based cultural and ethnic groups, churches, and organizations servicing refugees and immigrants as a means of recruiting new interpreters. Hence began LUNA’s engagement in occupational training, mentoring and job placement for incoming refugees and immigrants. Many of the interpreters that started with Chris back in 2001 have remained working with him to the present day, a testament to his focus on relationships and business practices. Today, almost all the members of the LUNA staff are interpreters themselves and many of them came to the United States as a refugee, hence having a special understanding of the communities we serve.
Marina Hadjioannou joined the business in 2006, and with a background in human rights and civil rights law and a degree in public health, she helped shape the business into one that has provided a spectrum of language services across many sectors of the state that had been historically underserved. As an international lawyer, with an interest in the field of disability, her work for LUNA has been an important bridge to the consumers and patients we serve. With her leadership, and keeping equal access in mind, Marina reminds our staff and interpreters that the ultimate goal of our business is to promote and protect cultural and language rights of non-English speaking individuals. Marina is an expert on language access and has consulted government officials and national organizations on this matter. Naw Phaw joined LUNA in 2009 to help us respond to the influx of Burmese immigrants into the region. Naw is a highly respected member of the both Chin and Karen communities, and is considered one of the most skilled interpreters in the country for Burmese, Chin and Karen languages. Naw has been a key component in the steady growth of our company as well as the effort to provide employment options for incoming immigrants. She is presently Director of Languages Services and continues to be an invaluable asset to LUNA and to our larger community.
While Indianapolis Interpreters had been outsourcing American Sign Language requests from the get-go, in 2011 the company launched an ASL division in order to assure quality control over those assignments. Since then, LUNA’s role in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities has flourished. Tracy Lenhart, an interpreter respected for her nationally certified skills and active role in the Deaf community, helped us recruit and manage our ASL contracted interpreters. In 2013, we were joined by Rebecca Buchan, who now serves as LUNA’s Director of ASL Services and Education. Rebecca brought over 20 years of interpreting and mentoring experience into our company and helped us to deepen relationships with stakeholders across the region. With the help of these women, we are proud to have built this division of the company with input directly from Deaf consumers, Certified Deaf interpreters, local and national organizations serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities, and a large group of invested and committed ASL interpreters. We have hosted joint foreign language and ASL interpreters “meet and greet” professional fairs, ethics parties, and language neutral training events. As a business we have defined common ground between spoken and ASL interpreters in a welcoming office that encourages interpreter visits and dialogue.
This successful outreach, a strategy to continue our partnerships with community organizations and interpreter training programs across the state, and Rebecca’s leadership have contributed to LUNA being awarded the opportunity to act as the Coordinating Unit for language services to Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals for the state of Indiana. In an effort to fulfill this profound responsibility to provide the highest quality of American Sign Language services to these communities and to state agencies, we are proud to be working with community partners who will not only help us fill interpreting requests with locally sourced interpreters, but also grow our interpreting pool through our statewide mentoring program, Pathways to Certification.
LUNA continues to provide government, medical facilities, educational institutions, legal offices, non-profits, businesses (large and small) and individuals with a full spectrum of language services in over 90 languages. From its earliest days of operation, the business has and always will be available for prescheduled and last minute requests 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We understand that populations we serve require language services around the clock, so we are committed to filling those needs.
Going forward, Chris Waters will continue to lead LUNA’s Team to bridge communication gaps based on language and culture, to build capacity of statewide language providers, and to advocate for equal access to language services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing populations, and with those individuals with Limited English Proficiency. We welcome you to come by our office and see LUNA in action. We would love the opportunity to understand your needs, get feedback on how we can better serve our community and see how we can increase language access, together.