Legal Interpreter Training Institute – Faculty


Carla M. Mathers, Esquire, SC: L has practiced law in Maryland and the District of Columbia since 1993.  She currently serves as General Counsel and Legal Program Manager for TCS Associates Interpreting, a prominent sign language interpreting service in Maryland.  Ms. Mathers’ law degree is from Howard University School of Law.  Ms. Mathers’ interpreting degree is from the College of Southern Idaho.  Ms. Mathers sat on the Advisory Group for Language Access to develop standards for language access in courts for the American Bar Association.  Ms. Mathers also sat on the Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts’ Advisory Committee on Interpreters Sub-committee on Ethics and Sub-committee on Testing and Training.  Ms. Mathers previously served as the Legal Program Coordinator for MARIE Center/DOIT Center at the University of Northern Colorado. She has served as an adjunct instructor for the Gallaudet University Department of Interpretation teaching legal interpreting, among other courses.  She served as Vice President for the Conference of Interpreter Trainers and sat on the Board of Directors for the Deaf Abused Women’s Network in Washington, D.C.  Ms. Mathers is the author of Sign Language Interpreters in Court:  Understanding Best Practices, a text for interpreters, attorneys and courts to understand the principles underlying ASL court interpreting.


Sandy Peplinski, BS, CI, CT, SC:L, QMHI has been an interpreter for the past 25 years.  Having deaf parents allows her to have a strong ties to the deaf community, a deep understanding of deaf culture and the communication struggles deaf individuals face on a daily basis.  In her work as a community interpreter, she specializes in legal and mental health interpreting.  Sandy has a background in deaf education, attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  She also attended the Interpreter Training Program at said university.  She has completed the training and is registered to provide interpreting services through the Wisconsin Emergency Assistance Volunteer Registry (WEAVR).   She is the first recipient of the Outstanding Interpreter Award (2017) from the Wisconsin Association of the Deaf for her work in the deaf community.

Being a mentor to interpreters wanting to improve their skills, both on a general basis, along with skills needed to work in legal settings gives her an opportunity help improve the quality of interpreting within the community.  She is a guest lecturer at the Interpreter Training Program at UWM-Milwaukee, as well as participating in evaluating progress of students in the ITP.  Along with Lisa Perry Burckhardt, a certified deaf interpreter, she is one of the interpreting teams in the  2014 NCIEC video, Highly Effective Court Interpreting Teams in Action, which is used for training interpreters to work in legal environments. Sandy is a strong advocate for the use of certified deaf interpreters and is heavily involved in mentoring deaf interpreters to become certified.  Working in deaf/hearing teams constitutes a large portion of her work.  Sandy has been a co-instructor, along with Stephanie Kerkvliet and Lisa Perry Burckhardt, during the initial series of the Legal Interpreter Training Institute (LITI) and looks forward to the next cohort experience.

Debra Gorra Barash, BSBA, CI, CT, SC:L, QMHI has been a nationally certified sign language interpreter since 1986. Shortly after becoming certified, she began to specialize in legal interpreting and received her Specialty Certificate: Legal from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID).  Additionally she specialized in mental health interpreting and received her Qualified Mental Health Interpreting credential.

In 1993, Debra was honored with the Wisconsin Chapter of RID (WisRID) Distinguished Service Award for her outstanding contributions to the profession of interpreting.  In 1996, she founded and co-owned Professional Interpreting Enterprise, LLC, a successful Sign Language Interpreting company, which was recognized as an innovative leader in its field for quality service.  She has since sold her share of the company and continues to provide interpreting, consulting, mentoring and training services.

Debra served more than ten years under Chief Justice Abrahamson’s office as a member of the Committee to Improve Interpreting and Translation in the Wisconsin Courts.  She chaired the subcommittee that authored the Wisconsin SCR 63, Code of Ethics for Court Interpreters and served in developing the curriculum for the WI Court Orientation Program for Interpreters. Debra has presented at various conferences such as the Wisconsin Judicial College, Wisconsin Judicial Conference, the Public Defender’s conference, the Court Reporter’s conference, and “Through the Eyes of a Child” conference for Guardian Ad Litems to name a few.

Debra received her degree in Business Administration and has over 30 years of business experience.  In addition to owning and operating her own business, she has been an Executive Director for non profit organizations and has been a consultant on business ethics, program development and also became a trained mediator.  Debra serves as a mentor to developing interpreters and has been a trainer in the WisRID Legal Training Program and an instructor in the UWM Interpreter Training Program.  She also serves as a faculty member for the Wisconsin Court Orientation Program for Interpreters and has served on the Minnesota Court Orientation Program for Interpreters.  Debra serves on various committees relating to ethics and ethical behavior, character and fitness issues, disciplinary complaints, and grievance appeals cases on a state and national level.  Combining her unique and diverse business, interpreting and training background, with her work as an interpreter, Debra presently conducts seminars specializing in legal interpreting, understanding ethical behaviors, ethical decision making, and the roles of interpreters in the legal system. She provides consulting services and serves as an Expert Witness on interpreting issues.

Lisa Perry Burckhardt, CDI, CLIP-R

Lisa Perry Burckhardt is currently working for Sorenson Communication in a position as National Education and Training Program Manager specializing in training and mentoring.  In addition to the role as program manager, she presents numerous workshop including Legal in VRS, Cultural Mediation, and more and manages Language Mentoring Program to foster quality and skills of Video Relay Interpreters.  Starting in 1997, after Ms. Perry Burckhardt completed the Interpreting Training Program at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she  worked as a full time Mentor Program Coordinator and Certified Deaf Interpreter for Professional Interpreting Enterprise (PIE) in Greenfield, WI.  Lisa maintains her working relationship with PIE as a part time interpreter.  Lisa has been awarded the Certified Deaf Interpreter and Certificate Legal Interpreter Provisional – Relay (CLIP-R) credentials through the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and has been certified since 1996.  Her work with PIE has provided countless hours of experiences interpreting in numerous settings, heavily focused on Legal, Mental Health and Medical.  Lisa’s legal foundation was through taking the Legal Interpreter training series provided by Carla Mathers.  As a trainer, Lisa has been involved with Wisconsin Interpreter/Translator Court committee forum in preparation of orientation training.  In addition, Lisa continued her commitment as a trainer by providing Legal Interpreter Training Institute series in Wisconsin provided through Professional Interpreting Enterprise.  Additionally, Lisa participated in train the trainer series with NCIEC focusing on CDI in Legal settings and Legal Interpreter training modules.


Tamara Fuerst, BA, CDI, CLIP-R, QMHI

Tamara Fuerst has worked with PIE as a Deaf Interpreter since the Fall of 2007. She became a Certified Deaf Interpreter (CDI) and received a Certified Legal Interpreter Provisional – Relay (CLIP-R) through the Registry Interpreters of the Deaf (RID).  Tamara also hold a Qualified Mental Health Interpreter (QMHI) certification. She also hold State of Wisconsin DSPS Sign Language Interpreter license and a Certified Wisconsin Court Interpreter Program.

Tamara attended several legal trainings/workshops, including LIMS Legal Conference at Philadelphia, Iron Sharpens Iron Legal Conference at Atlanta and Colorado, and completed her Legal Interpreter Training Institute (LITI) with PIE in 2009. She provided workshops on Deaf and Hearing Interpreters in Mental Health Setting for Alumni track and Deaf Interpreters in Mental Health at Mental Health Interpreter Training (MHIT) in Alabama and Teaming: How to work with Deaf Interpreters with Michael Maffucci in Milwaukee.  Also, Tamara was a language mentor for Sorenson and Wisconsin Educational Service Program for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (WESP-DHH).

She recently graduated with a BA in psychology and social welfare along with a certification in criminal justice.  Tamara enjoys working in legal and mental health settings and continues to look for opportunities to grow her knowledge in these fields.


Michael Maffucci, CDI, CLIP-R

MIchael Maffucci is a Certified Deaf Interpreter who also holds his CLIP-R from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. Michael has over 10 years of experience working in a variety of settings. He brings extensive knowledge and experience of working in legal environments and mental health settings. Michael completed the 2009-2010 Legal Interpreting Institute taught by Sandy Peplinski, Lisa Perry Burckhardt and Stephanie Kerkvliet. In addition, he attended the mental health training in Alabama. He has a passion for interpreting in legal environments and raising the bar for interpreters.

Michael is involved in both the interpreting community as well as his deaf community. He is the Accommodations Coordinator for the Wisconsin Association for the Deaf.  He also serves on several different committees under WAD.



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