“I feel like I was born to start this company, in a sense,” Brigitta Toruño, the founder and CEO of UNO Translations and Communications LLC, said. Despite speaking no English until she started kindergarten, Toruño began interpreting at a very young age. Born in Alexandria, VA, to parents from Argentina and Ecuador, she heard only Spanish in the home as a child. “At some point, though, I spoke more English than my parents did, and I was their interpreter in medical situations and when they bought their first house,” she said.
After careers in marketing and communications at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, where she was hired to produce the agency’s first Spanish language documents, Toruño went into business for herself in 1998, finding a niche in translating for the business community and facilitating communication across cultures. UNO has continued the theme of family business with Toruño’s son opening a second location in North Carolina.
Leadership Loudoun is proud to claim Toruño as a 2009 alumna and to applaud her appointment to George Mason University’s Women in Business Initiative (WIBI), a board of professional women that supports the George Mason School of Business by building a supportive network of female business professionals who engage with female students, alumni, and other businesswomen. The opportunities for networking, making face-to-face connections, and learning from women who have succeeded in business are designed to increase the number of women in the business field and promote equality in all areas.
“For me, it’s very important to give back to the community, and of course being a business owner for 19 years, I love the thought of being able to help business students who may be the future entrepreneurs in the area. I have a real calling to be part of that and to help in any way that I can,” Toruño said.
Each WIBI board member calls on their specific knowledge and experience as women in the workplace to give students an advantage as they plan their own ventures. Toruño’s success in running a home-based enterprise that employs multiple linguistic experts and consultants and offers a variety of services in more than 200 languages provides a unique entrepreneurial model for students. But her work also highlights the importance of recognizing and addressing the subtle cultural norms embedded in language, which will enhance students’ understanding of the rich intersection of language and culture that is so important given the diversity of the local community and of GMU.
Toruño credits Leadership Loudoun with deepening her understanding of the history, businesses, and culture of Loudoun County, although she had already lived there for 27 years. Once she started her business and joined the Chamber of Commerce, she heard about the program and was motivated to join. She particularly valued the trip to Richmond to meet state lawmakers (an annual event) and the community-oriented projects she completed with her team. She found it a deep learning experience to create a day for the cohort around a local issue—her team addressed gang prevention in Loudoun—bringing in a variety of experts to view the problem from all sides, increasing knowledge and building connections.
“I think it’s a good idea for new business owners—and experienced business owners—to go through the program. It was great to be with like-minded people business owners who were willing to get out of usual routine and learn something new. Because you work in small groups, you get to know some people well and you got to meet a lot of different business owners.”
She also appreciated the opportunity to choose a proposal from a nonprofit and work with it to provide hands-on support and solutions to a challenge. Leadership Loudoun’s deep connection and commitment to the community fostered enduring relationships and a lasting commitment to Loudoun County.
About Uno Translations and Communications
Uno Translations and Communications provides services in 200 languages for written, spoken, phone, sign language (ASL). Professional linguists are employed to provide an accurate and universal translation that speakers from different countries can understand. The company also offers graphic design, closed captioning, video voice over and subtitles, and social media translation.