Thank you to Brigitta Toruño, Owner of UNO Translations & Communications, LLC for answering these questions! Learn more about the Chamber’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility (DEIA) Committee here.
Where were you born and raised and when/why did you come to Loudoun?
My father was from Argentina and my mother was from Ecuador. They met in Washington, DC in 1960, at the Americanization School – where they went to learn English. They got married and I was born and grew up in Alexandria. I lived in what I call a “Latino Silo” where everything within those walls was Latino, we only spoke Spanish, ate South American food, and listened to Latin music. Then I would walk out into the world, and it was completely different. In the 1960s, immigrants were assimilating, but my parents said, I do not care what you speak outside that door, but in this house, you speak Spanish. I did not know English when I started kindergarten, but by first grade I was ok. They did me a tremendous favor because I am fully bilingual.
When did you launch your business and how did you get into your current line of work?
My cultural identity has driven my professional life. I was so impacted by being my parent’s interpreter at an early age, that I knew I wanted to work with the Spanish language, in some way.
Little did I know that my path, which included starting a translation unit at a Fortune 500 company, would lead me to my passion – creating a language translation company. This has afforded me the opportunity to help those immigrant children that are their parent’s interpreters, by offering language interpretation for their parents in schools. We offer many services to organizations in fields such as law, health, education, climate control, and finance, to name a few. It has also allowed organizations to grow their global imprint by offering language translation in over 250 languages.
Have you had any special mentors or inspirations that influenced your career?
It is no coincidence that my path was guided by several significant role models and mentors on my journey to running a language translation company. Two role models have been two of my aunts – one who lives in Ecuador (my mother’s country) and the other that lived in Argentina (my father’s country). They were both trailblazers in their Latin American countries – where it was not common for women to be leading companies – and let alone companies that they founded. I always looked up to them and admired their strength and courage, even through tough times. A mentor who I also admire is Leah Rampy. When I started my business 25 years ago, she helped me look at my goals, business plan, and overall strategy for the business. I am grateful for her and other mentors who exemplify true leaders.
What is the best part of your job and why?
The best part of my job is working with my son – Guillermo Toruno Jr. My business is 25 years old (I’m so grateful), and he has worked with me for the last 8 years. He is my right-hand person – but sometimes I think I’m his right-hand person. 😊 He has really added new dimensions and services to our language translation company – UNO Translations and Communications, LLC. My team is also awesome. And I am grateful for our clients and our UNO linguists.
We are a multimedia language translation company that offers language translation (the written word); interpretation (the spoken word) for community assignments, as well as conference simultaneous interpretation, and even webinars; phone interpretation; narration and voiceover; subtitles – in over 250 languages. We also offer graphic design and desktop publishing. And we are proud to offer ADA accessible and compliant documents in English and foreign languages.
What is it like owning/running a business in Loudoun?
I have been fortunate to run my company – UNO Translations and Communications, LLC – for the last 25 years in Loudoun County. I remember when I was thinking about starting the business – the first thing that I did was meet with the Loudoun SBDC. They were extremely helpful to me as I forged into new territory – that of being an entrepreneur – after many years in the corporate world. I have felt supported, seen, and held by Loudoun County through all these years. The Loudoun Chamber of Commerce has awarded UNO Translations several awards throughout the years – including “Home-Based Business of the Year,” finalist for the Small Business Leader of the Year, and finalist in the Loudoun Chamber Community Leader of the Year Award. Receiving an award is the “icing on the cake”, after working so hard in the business. The fellow entrepreneurs have always been supportive, as well as the organizations and nonprofits that we serve. I was also honored to be appointed in 2020 to the Virginia Council on Women. That is at the heart of our business – to serve our community and be the bridge that helps communities speak with each other.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
The English word is “heritage” – but the Spanish word is “herencia”. It’s a word that is very rich in meaning – and simply saying “heritage” does not completely convey what “herencia” means to us. Herencia is everything from our ancestors passing down language dialects, food recipes, herbal remedies, costumbres y música. These are true treasures. And let us not forget the colorful tapestry that we are made from – We are the descendants of amazing pyramid builders by the Olmec, Maya, Aztec and Inca. Our heritage includes gifted artists, musicians, mathematicians, scientists, and maybe most importantly – the original cultivators of chocolate! And now, here in the United States, we continue to proudly display our heritage in communities in many different industries. Our talents and skills have been sought after for more than 500 years – generation after generation. Our diversity is flavored throughout many areas of the United States – I am proud of my Latino herencia.
What are some of your favorite things to do when you are not working?
I enjoy a number of things, including cultivating self-care! I enjoy meditation, yoga, Qi Gong, nature walks and drumming. I also started a wellbeing initiative through COVID – called UNO Souls. Spending time with family and friends is a gift to me. I am blessed to have two adult children and 6 grandchildren! They are my soul happiness. I have a wonderful network of friends and we indulge in activities such as enjoying fine food, drink, and music. I also love the water – and am lucky to live on a small lake in Ashburn – it makes my heart happy 😊
Check out Brigitta’s website, UNO Translations & Communications, LLC