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Kafi Lemons

Kafi Lemons is a native New Yorker who has been involved in the world of interpreting for over 10 years. Starting in her home church ministry, Greater Allen Cathedral of NY, she quickly realized the Deaf community was the place for her. Then working for nearly a decade in senior management at JetBlue airways, she left Corporate America to pursue her interpreting dreams. This quest toward her life calling and a new career led her to the Washington, DC area in 2006 to immerse herself in the Gallaudet University community. She is currently a staff member at Gallaudet University, and a part-time freelancer in the DC Metropolitan area. Her relocation to DC proved to her that the sky is truly the limit to what you can do in life if you believe in yourself.


Upon her relocation, Kafi threw herself into the Gallaudet, NAOBI, interpreting, and Deaf communities. She has been an active member of NAOBI, Inc & NAOBI-DC since 2008. She served as the 2010 Vice President and on the both the 2008-2010 & 2011 Professional Development committee for NAOBI-DC, as well she did a brief stint as the Eastern Region Rep for NAOBI, INC. She is known affectionately as “Kafirazzi” as she joyfully was deemed the unofficial Historian of NAOBI-DC, capturing photos of all hosted events. She holds the concept ‘all things progressive’ for NAOBI and the profession of interpreting true to heart.


Kafi, a partial ‘bootstrapper’, proudly holds an NIC certification from RID/NAD, and is a proud member of the Potomac Chapter of RID (PCRID), Region II, and DC Area Deaf Black Advocates (DCA-BDA). Additionally, she has formed strong bonds of friendship within the interpreting community, who along with her family, she credits for her interpreting accomplishments.



Billy Sanders

Billy Sanders.  As a Child Of a Deaf Adult (CODA), Billy Sanders credits his love for American Sign Language, serving within the Deaf community, and interpreting to his mother, Debra - who is Deaf. Billy holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and a Master of Science in Public Administration from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. As a nationally certified interpreter, he works as an Adjunct Professor; teaching Beginning and Intermediate American Sign Language at Graduate School, USA, in Washington, DC. Additionally, Billy is a Communications Consultant with Bridges Consulting; a company he founded ten years ago to champion cross-cultural communication through education and empowerment. Aside from living out his passion, Billy loves to spend time with his 12 yr. old son, Donovan, and his lovely wife, Stenise.


Prior theatrical/performing arts interpreting credits in the Washington, DC area include: Terrance McNally’s Nights at the Opera: Master Class at Kennedy Center; Thurgood, featuring Laurence Fishburne at Kennedy Center; Follies at the Kennedy Center; Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies at Lincoln Theater; The Messiah, and The Importance of Being Earnest. Prior interpreting credits in Baltimore, MD include: Let There Be Love, alongside Avery Brooks, and the classic musical, The Wiz; both at the Center Stage Theater. Other interpreting credits include several theatrical performances in the state of Florida including Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns, Je’ Caryous Johnson’s Men Money & Gold Diggers, and the Sarah Silverman Comedy Showcase. Additionally, he has held the honor of interpreting the musical concerts of: the Trans Siberian Orchestra, Rascal Flatts, Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton, Go-Go legend Chuck Brown, Tye Tribbett, Fred Hammond, Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams, Donnie McClurkin, Marvin Sapp, Donald Lawrence & the Tri-City Singers, Vickie Winans, Kem, Kenny Lattimore, along with rock stars Niki Barr and Incubus.



Tonia Butler

Tonia Butler is a native Washingtonian who has always had a passion for learning and trying new things. She was first introduced to Sign Language when she was pursuing her degree at Strayer University. But it was not until she met and married the love her life, William, who is deaf, that she became more in touch with ASL and the world of interpreting. She has taken many courses at Gallaudet University PST, CJAGA, and several workshops throughout the city.


Tonia has served on the NAOBI-DC Professional Development Committee 2010/2011 under the leadership of co-chairs Kafi Lemons & Jeffrey Bowden where she assisted with conference planning and registration. She has also had the opportunity to serve the Deaf Community at-large as a part of the interpreting team for Six Flags Deaf Community Day 2010 and 2011.


In addition to Sign Language, one of Tonia’s other priority interests in life is finances. Tonia is the President/Partner of Blaque Diamonds Investment Club and a Partner of Butler Project LLP.


Tonia welcomes the opportunity to serve the NAOBI-DC family as treasurer and see this opportunity as a privilege to learn and hone her interpreting skills alongside the Board and Members as we grow to new levels.


Chapter Representative

Marcus "Keith" Island

Marcus”Keith” Island, a native of Dallas, TX, has been in the interpreting community for more than 20 years. Keith starting signing at a young age because he wanted to communicate with his friend whom he lovingly refers to as his “brother”, this was the birth of his journey to interpreting. It wasn’t until later, after working in a college setting as an Assistant Director of Financial Aid, Keith decided to pursue a degree in Interpreting. He completed his studies at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Interpretation: ASL/English with a minor in Theatre (2002). He is now nationally certified by RID and has State Certifications in Arkansas and Texas. Following his other passion, MarcusKeith is also a professional actor and received additional training from the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts in the Washington DC area. This zeal for performing arts coupled with his joy and expertise in interpreting has resulted in a great marriage in his role as a performing arts interpreter.


Keith has worked with various organizations within the interpreting and deaf communities as well as other organizations outside the profession. He is a “behind the scenes” type of a guy that loves to help whenever possible as the unofficial “TECH SUPPORT/ GO TO GUY”. A proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., he is currently working on an initiative to recruit more deaf and hard of hearing members within the “DIVINE 9” National Pan-Hellenic Council organizations.


Always looking for a new challenge to conquer, his current goal is to become a trilingual interpreter within the next few years as he is currently working on his fluency in Spanish. Most know his favorite saying: No Man is an Island…… to which he champions by lending a hand to all in need!



Mercedes Hunter

Mercedes Hunter is a native of East Saint Louis, Illinois. Mercedes became interested in American Sign Language after moving to Jacksonville, Illinois where Illinois School for the Deaf is located. After socializing with the Deaf community Mercedes decided to enroll in the Interpreter Preparation Program at John A. Logan Community College. Mercedes graduated in 2009 with her Associates of Arts Degree in Interpreting and Deaf Studies.


Mercedes continued her education by applying and being accepted into Gallaudet University Interpreting Program. At Gallaudet University she became heavily involved and submersed with the Deaf Community. Mercedes became a Peer Leader, Resident Advisor, served on the Student Advisory Board, participated at the Deaf Bilingual Coalition, and became a member of NBDA, Potomac Chapter Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Black Deaf Student Union, Keeping the Promise and NAOBI-DC.


Upon graduation in May of 2012 Mercedes plan to stay in the District to pursue her dream working as an American Sign Language Interpreter.

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