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X Marks the Spot: GALA is 10 Years Old!

By: Hans Fenstermacher (GALA)

15 March 2012

It's hard to believe, but this year we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of GALA's founding. In the Spring of 2002, a handful of language industry companies quietly got together to form a new association. We were full of hope, optimism, and ambition then, and I'm delighted to say that spirit has not changed one bit!

GALA is such a forward-looking and forward-thinking organization that we don't often look back.  But this year, a little retrospection is in order, so that we can see just how far we have come.

In 2002 we had 15 member companies.  Since then, we have grown 20 times in size, and we now have members from all inhabited continents on the globe.  GALA has also come to represent the broadest spectrum of our industry, including language service providers, language technology companies, buyers of language services and technology, and educational and research organizations.

From our relatively modest beginnings, GALA has developed into a powerhouse of activity and participation.  Want to network with your colleagues locally?  GALA now sponsors dozens of global networking events a year.  Want to talk and brainstorm with your friends at GALA?  GALA Connect is your new on-line community.  Need information on the latest products or best practices?  Join one of the 35+ webinars we host annually in our popular series.  How about stretching your marketing spend with a joint advertisement, or meeting 100 new friends at our Speed Networking (another GALA industry innovation!).  Need a job or want to post one?  We have a great jobs community (LocalizationCareers.net).  The list just goes on and on….

Our collaborations have grown, too, ranging from our early partnership with Localization World through our relationship with tekom (going on six years now) to joint projects we are just now starting with the European Commission.  In 2011, we also added another ambitious page to our portfolio, namely the GALA Standards Initiative, which seeks to bring together and align the industry's efforts around standards.  GALA's spirit of inclusivity continues to be at the core of everything we do.

As we've grown, we have also grown up.  At our first GALA members' meeting in Seattle in 2003, Laura Brandon began working with us.  Little did she know, she would become our first full-time staff person. Through all the ups and downs, Laura helped make the association into the professional organization it is today, and in 2010 became our Managing Director.  Now, with a team of six people, she runs a professional organization whose activities and budgets have grown exponentially year after year.  We're so glad to have Laura and the entire staff working on GALA's behalf.

When I reflect on all the members of the Board of Directors we've had in the past 10 years, I realize that we wouldn't be here were it not for their dedication and enthusiasm.  Our directors have come from all parts of the language industry, each bringing their own expertise and perspective.  As a fellow board member, I am grateful to have known and worked with so many of them; as a GALA member, I am confident in the guidance these dedicated colleagues provide.

It's amazing, too, that in our 10th year we are celebrating so many milestones at GALA.  To name just a few: we have the highest membership in our history; we are holding our fourth global Language of Business conference with the highest projected attendance in our history; and this year we are officially opening GALA's office in Europe as part of our support for some exciting EU language initiatives.

All in all, it's been a fantastic run for GALA.  But the first 10 years were only the beginning.  I'm very excited about the next phase of GALA's growth.  We will soon share with all of you our refreshed vision and mission statement, as well as GALA's Strategic Plan for the future.  I hope that you will continue to help us achieve great things for the industry by giving us your ideas and support.

I can't wait to see what GALA will do in the next decade.  Here's to another great 10 years!


Hans Fenstermacher
GALA Board of Directors

Hans is Vice President of TransPerfect / Translations.com. Born in Germany, Hans speaks six languages and holds degrees from Princeton University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Hans is an Associate Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication (STC) and former president of the STC Boston Chapter. In 2002 Hans co-founded the Globalization And Localization Association (GALA). In 2011, Hans was re-elected to the GALA Board for a second consecutive term.