KAAN 2016 Conference Speakers
Speakers subject to change without notice.
Antonio Aiello is the Content Director and Web Editor of PEN American Center, the world's leading literary and human rights organization. While working on his MFA in fiction at The New School University, Aiello managed PEN's Prison Writing Program and co-wrote and edited PEN's Handbook for Writers in Prison. He is the founder and editor of PASSAGES, a quarterly journal of contemporary international literature. His stories and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in/on the Literary Hub, The Carolina Quarterly, Alimentum, Anderbo.com, Revolving Floor, and Natural Home & Garden, among other publications. He lives on a suburban homestead in Montclair, NJ with his wife, two children, and their chickens.
David is a clinical psychologist in private practice in NYC. He is also an adoptive parent and tween-wrangler to a son and daughter both born in Korea. David has been a regular contributor to Gazillion Voices magazine and to annual Chuseok meals that occasionally soar. He is currently writing a novel about trauma and the power of surprising connections.
Aeriel A. Ashlee, M.Ed., is a doctoral associate in Educational Leadership at Miami University in Oxford, OH. As a self-identified transracial adoptee, Aeriel's research interests focus on how to make college experiences more inclusive for Asian American transracial adoptees. Aeriel has been a scholar-practitioner in higher education for more than nine years. She is Co-Founder of Ashlee Consulting, a social justice education firm that seeks to develop brave space for bold conversations. Aeriel recently co-authored her first book, VITAL: A Torch For Your Social Justice Journey.
Uhriel is a native of Panama and has lived in the U.S. for two decades. A global payments technology professional, he has done business in over 15 countries and has traveled to over 35, including his first trip to Korea in 2011. He returned with his wife Jannie, a Korean adoptee, in 2014 for her birth family search, a life changing experience that has shaped their journey as a couple. He and Jannie reside in Miami.
Katie Bozek was adopted from Korea at the age of six months. She is currently a licensed marriage and family therapist and owns a private practice in her community. Katie also works as an adjunct professor at two local universities. When she is not at the office, she can be found spending time with her three amazing children.
Adopted at the age of three years, Michael grew up in Pennsylvania and received a master's degree in counseling. He is currently living near DC and attending George Washington University. Michael is studying organizational management and has spoken about his experiences at previous KAAN conferences.
Sara is an adult adoptee who has been involved with the Korean adoption community since 2003. She has been to multiple KAAN conferences and is a member of KAAN's Advisory Council. Sara is also the Partnership Specialist at Connect-a-Kid. She continues to teach, demonstrate, and display a positive aspect of the adoption triad. Sara has also worked as a mental health professional for Hope Network (nonprofit organization) for the past nine years.
Melanie specializes in adoption-related counseling for triad members such as transracial adoption, complex trauma, attachment research, grief and loss, search and reunion, and identity related to life span issues. She is currently the Clinical Director of Post Adoption Services for a counseling clinic at ChristianWorks for Children, in Dallas, Texas. She has worked in the field of child welfare for close to 18 years within the realms of international adoption, foster care, child protective services, and domestic adoptions in a myriad of positions. She was also adopted from S. Korea in the 1970s--and is married with two children.
Martha Crawford LCSW is a clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and clinical supervisor with a generalist private practice in NYC for the past 20 years. She is the author of the blog What a Shrink Thinks, and has published and presented on adoptive parenting with adopted colleagues. The Korean American Adoptee Adoptive family Network (KAAN) conference has been an annual and cherished gathering of community for the Crawford-Amarel family for 10 years.
Simone Eun Mi is working as International Public Affairs manager in Seoul, Korea for KoRoot. KoRoot is a guesthouse for returning Korean adoptees and an NGO serving the adoptee community. Through the experience of adoptees, KoRoot operates within Korean society. Besides working for KoRoot, she is a journalist, photographer, and a highly gifted educator. Simone Eun Mi is a Dutch adoptee from Korea who grew up in a rural area in The Netherlands where she was the only child of color in the school. In 2015, she was a speaker at the IKAA conference in Rome. This is her first KAAN conference.
Kate Firestone is a Korean adoptee, adopted at three months of age and raised in central Pennsylvania. She is currently undergoing her first year as a doctoral student in Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures at Michigan State University. She is simultaneously serving as a Graduate Writing Coordinator at MSU's Writing Center. Her academic interests include the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, space, and identity.
Alysha is an adult Korean adoptee. This is her fourth KAAN conference.
Lee was born in Busan, South Korea, and he was adopted at 4 months of age. He went to school and lived in Harrisburg, PA all of his life until he was married to Whitney in 2013 and relocated to Nashville, TN. Lee has a desire to someday learn more about his birth family. He's had the unique opportunity to see the interaction between Whitney and her Korean birth family, which most adoptees do not get to witness first-hand. Having a better understanding of this family dynamic is key for Lee in making his future decision to either start a birth family search or leave things in the unknown.
Whitney is a Korean adoptee who was given the unexpected opportunity to reunite with her birth family and begin to develop relationships with that nuclear core, as well as a large extended family. Six years later, she maintains regular contact with them and has experienced all of the ups and downs of navigating the complexities and dynamics of these relationships. Whitney has made every attempt to remain an open book throughout the experience in an effort to offer a perspective to adoptees and their families about what a birth family reunion can look like. She is quick to emphasize that she is not an adoption expert and that her experience is just that - her experience.
Erica is a Korean American adoptee, adoption researcher, and most recently, an adoption home study specialist. She also plans to continue expanding her work and engagement within the adoptee community. Her main goal in life is to support and advocate for people with marginalized identities, those who are very often left out of (positive) mainstream conversations and spotlights.
A writer, ceramicist and mother, Rosita GonzÃ¡lez serves as an editor at The Lost Daughters and recently edited the Flip the Script Anthology with Amanda Woolston and Diane Rene Christian. A Korean adoptee, she has spent the last year living in Seoul and searching for her first family and her adoptive father's Korean son. Her journeys and work can be found at Mothermade, the blog.
Mark Hagland is an adult Korean adoptee, born in South Korea in 1960 and adopted by American parents of Norwegian and German descent. He grew up in Milwaukee, WI, and came to Chicago for graduate school, where he has lived since 1981. He has been an active participant in the KAAN Conference for 14 years. He speaks regularly on transracial adoption-related topics for a variety of audiences.
Bevin was adopted from Korea at the age of 4 months and grew up in the St. Louis area. In 2006, she traveled to Seoul to attend her first KAAN conference. She is an elementary school teacher who currently resides in Boston with her husband and two children.
Ellen Picklesimer Heitzig was adopted when she was five months old and grew up in central Illinois with her younger sister, also adopted from Korea. She received her master's degree in social work from Washington University in St. Louis and is currently a district social worker with the City of St. Charles School District. Ellen is currently the social worker for Sejong Cultural Experience Inc. and travels on the annual Korea trip each year. In this position, she works with adolescents and has facilitated biological family reunions.
Jen and her husband have three children - two they adopted from China and South Korea, and one born to them. Their children are 21, 18 and 9. Jen has participated in KAAN Conferences for over eleven years in many capacities. Currently she serves on the Advisory Council for KAAN.
Jaime is an adult adoptee who recently connected with the KAD community on a trip to Korea last summer. She lives with cerebral palsy and mental illness. Jaime is an active advocate in disabled community and looks forward to sharing her experiences with others. This is her first year attending KAAN.
Courtney Huber previously served as the Director of Marketing for Connect-A-Kid and recently accepted the position as CEO of Connect-A-Kid alongside with their President, Robin Kim. Courtney has been active in Connect-A-Kid for 2 years and previous to that helped to form the first Asian American Employee Resource Group at her previous employer, Discovery Communications, and helped to form the first Asian Pacific Islander Club at her alma mater, Salisbury University. She served as a counselor and attendee at Camp MuJiGae at the Parsons Child Campus in Albany, NY. Courtney was born in Busan, South Korea, raised in Sparks, MD, and currently resides in West Palm Beach, FL.
Kristin Jordan is a Korean adoptee who grew up in Syracuse, NY. Kristin's youngest sister Shannon, also a Korean adoptee, is a person who has Cerebral Palsy. Together, Shannon and Kristin have recently connected with the KAD community and returned to Korea in 2013.
Shannon Jordan is an adoptee who lives in Syracuse, NY. Shannon was disagnosed with Cerebral Palsy soon after her arrival to the US as an infant in 1981. Shannon recently connected with the KAD community and is eager to share her experience as an adoptee who lives with disabilities. When she is not busy listening to K-Pop music, Shannon can be found behind her iPad with a box of tissues watching DramaFever.
JaeRan Kim is Assistant Professor at University of Washington, Tacoma. JaeRan has over 15 years of experience working with foster and adopted children and families and has developed numerous training curricula for child welfare professionals. JaeRan's research focuses on child welfare including adoption, foster care, institutional care, and children with disabilities.
Oh Myo Kim, M.Div., PhD is Assistant Professor of Practice in the Counseling, Developmental, and Educational Psychology Department at Boston College. Dr. Kim's research focuses on the intersection of culture and identity with international, transracial adopted adults. She is also interested in family-style orphanage care, cultural socialization, and expressive writing interventions. Dr. Kim is a mindfulness-based therapist who specializes in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Acceptance & Commitment Therapy, and eating disorders.
Robin Kim joined the board of Connect-A-Kid at the end of 2014 and has since taken on a leadership role with the operating organization as President along with Courtney Huber as CEO. As the famous commercial says: "I'm not only the President, but also an active mentor as well" with Connect-a-Kid's second Chicago-based team. Along with Connect-A-Kid, Robin has been active in the adult Korean adoptee community as Treasurer of Korean Adoptees of Chicago (KAtCH). Professionally, Robin works for Wells Fargo where she has spent fifteen years in financial forecasting and analysis and, most recently, project management. She is the chair of the local Diversity & Inclusion Council, president of the local Volunteer Chapter and helped start the local Asian employee affinity group. Robin grew up in northern Iowa, the youngest of five siblings and currently resides in Chicago.
Laura is the Social Justice Education Specialist at the Multicultural Student Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Laura grew up in the suburbs of Milwaukee, and received her bachelor's and master's degree from UW-Madison's School of Social Work. After leaving Wisconsin, Laura served as the Assistant Director of Campus Programs for Leadership and Social Justice at Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN. Laura returns home to Wisconsin, USA after living and organizing in her home of Seoul, South Korea with Adoptee Solidarity Korea.
Jannie was adopted at the age of two from Korea. She returned to Korea for her first trip home in 2011 with her husband Uhriel. She attended her first KAAN in 2012 in Albany, NY, and it was a revelation to spend time with other adoptees where often words were not needed in order to be understood. She and Uhriel have been presenters at KAAN since 2012, sharing the complexities of marriage involving interracial adoptees.
Niki is passionate about intercultural service and using her passion to help refugees, international students, and students with disabilities. Her first exposure to Korea and Korean adoptees was during a trip to South Korea in 2008 with InKAS. Her self-study Korean language facilitator at the time, a former InKAS volunteer in Oregon, suggested that she apply for the program. Since then, she has explored her Korean roots and identity as an adoptee both while living in Korea in 2009 and most recently while in Southern California.
Joy Lieberthal is a social worker in private practice in New York City. She works primarily with international adoptees both as a clinician and advocate. She was adopted from Korea at the age of 6 and has been in reunion with her birthmother for over 20 years.
Andy Marra possesses more than a decade of communications experience working with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organizations worldwide. Andy currently manages communications at the Arcus Foundation, one of the largest private conservation and human rights funders in the world. Prior to coming to the Arcus, she was the public relations manager for GLSEN, a national organization working to ensure safer school environments for LGBT students in K-12 education. Previously, she was co-director of Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, and a senior media strategist at GLAAD. Andy's work and commentary have been found on programs ranging from NPR's "Tell Me More," The Rachel Maddow Show, and Access Hollywood, as well as outlets including the Associated Press, Jezebel, The Guardian, The New York Times, People, Politico, Reuters, and The Wall Street Journal, among others. Andy has served on boards and advisory councils, including Chinese for Affirmative Action, the Funding Exchange, Human Rights Campaign, and the National Center for Transgender Equality. She has been honored by The White House for her contributions to the LGBT community, profiled in The Advocate's "Forty Under 40," and listed as one of The Huffington Post's "Most Compelling LGBT People." She is also a past recipient of the GLSEN Pathfinder Award, the National LGBTQ Task Force Creating Change Award and the Colin Higgins Foundation Courage Award. Andy currently lives in New York City with her fiance Drew. Follow Andy on Twitter at @andy_marra.
Hollee McGinnis, MSW, is a prominent speaker, writer, and community organizer on intercountry and transracial adoptions. She is currently a PhD candidate in social work at Washington University in St. Louis. Her dissertation, funded by the Korea Foundation and U.S. Fulbright, examines the mental health and academic outcomes of adolescents in orphanages in South Korea. Prior to returning to school she was the policy director at the Donaldson Adoption Institute where she headed a national study on adult adoptees' adoption and racial identity. In 1996 she founded Also-Known-As, Inc., a non-profit adult intercountry adoptee organization in New York City.
Kimberly D. McKee, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Liberal Studies at Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, MI. Her current book manuscript, tentatively titled Markets, Children and "Love": Interrogating the Transnational Adoption Industrial Complex, interrogates the institutional practice of international adoption and traces the origins of what she terms the transnational adoption industrial complex. Her second project explores how racialized and sexualized depictions of Asian/Asian American women circulate within the U.S. as a result of American militarism abroad and its impact on the female adoptee body. She is currently KAAN's Assistant Director and serves on the Advisory Council.
Katie Naftzger, LICSW, KAAN Advisory Council member, has presented workshops and lectures at KAAN and other conferences and institutions for many years. In her private psychotherapy practice, Katie sees children, teens, adoptive parents and families. She runs a group for young adult Asian adoptees. She also enjoys running online and local groups for adoptive parents. Currently she is working on a book about parenting adopted teens. To learn more, visit adoptiontherapyma.com.
Susan Harris O'Connor, MSW, Lost Daughter's and AAC Board member is a nationally known solo performance artist of her book The Harris Narratives: An Introspective Study of a Transracial Adoptee. She is published by the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism and the esteemed British journal, Adoption and Fostering where her racial identity model and theory is elaborated on. She is also a contributing author to Flip The Script: Adult Adoptee Anthology.
Benjamin Kim Oser, adopted at three months old from Seoul, has been involved with athletics since the age of five. He has been playing competitive ice hockey since he was eight, which includes collegiate club hockey for NYU. He is currently an educator and leadership administrator at Drexel University, as well as the camp director for a Korean culture camp in New Jersey. He is passionate about supporting the adoptee community, specifically relating to confidence building around male adoptee identity.
When Amy Partain and her husband started the process to adopt their son from Korea in 2006, she had no idea how this little boy would change her life. Learning about race, culture and trauma transformed not only Amy's parenting style but her life. Now she strives to share the knowledge and resources that have helped her with other adoptive families.
Rebecca Peacock is a co-founder of Lost Sarees, a group uniting Indian adoptees and building bridges to South Asian communities through arts, education and advocacy. Rebecca resides in Seattle, Washington with her husband, Dave, and daughter, Trisha. At the end of 2011 Rebecca and Dave travelled to India, where they adopted Trisha from Ashraya Children's Home in Bangalore. The journey marked Rebecca's first trip to her home country since her adoption as an infant.
Margie Perscheid is the adoptive parent of two young adults, both of whom were adopted from Korea. She is a current member of the KAAN Advisory Council, was co-founder and President of Korean Focus Metro DC and served on the Board of Directors of the Korean American Coalition DC chapter. Margie has spoken at the American Adoption Congress, Adoption Initiative and KAAN conferences. Her blog, Third Mom, and website, Korean Adoption Advocacy, share her perspective as an activist adoptive parent.
Brian is of West Indian descent, and is the life partner of a Korean adoptee. This is his first KAAN conference.
Tammy Ko Robinson is an artist-researcher with interests in decoloniality and the stewardship of airwaves, land, and water. Her body of work recently spans her remigration to South Korea and includes video, installation, and archive creation. Concurrently, her writings on art and culture have appeared in The Hankyoreh, Pressian, article, SPACE Magazine, Asia-Pacific Journal, ArtAsiaPacific, KoreAm, and Flash Art. tammy serves as an Associate Professor at Hanyang University teaching courses in cinema, virtualities and new media, and is a Senior Researcher with the Asian Arts Complex, Gwangju. Her work on adoptee matters spans her 1998 MA thesis on intercountry adoption law to current service on the Adoptee Researcher Committee for the Emigration Museum of Korea.
Matthew Salesses is the author of The Hundred-Year Flood (Little A/Amazon Publishing), an Amazon Best Book of September (2015) and a Kindle First Pick, and a season's best selection at Buzzfeed, Refinery29, Gawker, and elsewhere. His other books include I'm Not Saying, I'm Just Saying; Different Racisms; and The Last Repatriate. Matthew has written about adoption, race, and parenting for NPR's Code Switch, The New York Times Motherlode, Salon, The Toast, The Millions, the Center for Asian American Media, The Rumpus, Glimmer Train, American Short Fiction, and many others. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Creative Writing & Literature at the University of Houston.
Carolyn Scholl was adopted at 22 months and grew up in California. She has been very involved with adoption organizations such as AKASoCal and KAAN. She lives in California with her husband and two children.
Matt Schroeder is the father of Nick and Allison, who were both adopted from Korea. He enjoys the opportunity to talk with and learn from other adoptive parents and adult adoptees. He is especially pleased that KAAN 2016 is in Pittsburgh, home of the NFL's pre-eminent franchise.
Stacy Schroeder is the president and executive director of KAAN and lives with her family in Pennsylvania. She also coordinates Ta-ri, a local group that brings together those with ties to Korea for cultural and community-building activities. In 2007, she organized a weeklong camp for young adoptees and their families. Stacy's previous nonprofit experience includes serving as a full-time camp director, working at a library, and co-authoring a book. It brings Stacy joy to see the bonds forged at KAAN continue to flourish and bring support throughout the year, including for her son and daughter, who are teen adoptees themselves.
Noah Sinangil was adopted from Seoul, Korea at four and half months old and raised in New Jersey. He has two sisters, one of whom is also adopted from Korea. Since he was young he has had a strong interest in Korean culture. He began attending Camp Sejong, a cultural camp for Korean-Americans, at the age of nine and has been a counselor there for the past two years. He graduated from high school last June and currently attends Rowan University, where he is majoring in Biomedical Engineering.
Sara Smith is a Korean adoptee, adoptive parent to a Korean born daughter and biological parent to two sons. She lives in New Hamshire with her husband and children. Sara is a homeopathic consultant in private practice at New Leaf Homeopathy, LLC.
Michael is a professional financial advisor and KAAN's treasurer. He splits his time between New York City and Philadelphia.
Jenn is an adult Korean adoptee. She was born in Pusan, South Korea. This will be her sixth KAAN conference and she is excited to share her experiences. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two children.
For Mike Tavenner, growing up in a suburban neighborhood with mixed ethnicities, it was easy to fall in love with a beautiful Korean girl. It was acceptable (at least to him), and on the outside, appeared innocent enough. He didn't consider his family's perception, and most of them were silent about it. His grandfather said that it may be best if they "remained friends." Young and naive, they looked past race and still have a long lasting relationship.
Currently President of AdopSource, a Minnesota based non-profit working with internationally adoptive families, Dawn is involved in local Korean communities. She was a dance mom for her daughter's Korean Drum and Dance group for years. As a KAD artist, Dawn's work was accepted last year in the Gallery Show in Seoul called SISO, through InKAS, and this year's show ÊºReflections.Êº Currently, she serves at Camp Choson and has spent five years as Parent Workshop Coordinator. Dawn is a board member of KAWA MN, a member of the Shinparam Korean Drum Group, and has written articles for Korean Quarterly and KoreAm.
Amanda is an author, speaker, activist, and licensed social worker who serves children and families as a therapist and consultant in the behavioral health field. She has served the adoption and foster care communities through individual and family clinical work, group work, writing and presenting, and working for positive policy change. Her writing and presentations have reached broad audiences through multiple books, magazines, major news and radio interviews, and conferences, and she has engaged with legislators at the state and congressional levels on adoption policy. You can find her writing in various publishing corners of the adoption world, but mostly here, at Gazillion Voices Magazine, Social Work Helper, Lost Daughters, and her personal blog, The Declassified Adoptee.
Myung was adopted from South Korea and raised in Albany, NY. In 2005, he moved to NYC where he graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in 2D Animation. He has spent the past five years working as a Tech Designer for companies such as Tiffany's, Diane von Furstenberg, DKNY, and 3.1 Phillip Lim. Myung is currently finishing up his second animated short film, ÊºArrival,Êº about a boy struggling to come out to his mother.
Alyson is an adult Korean adoptee who was adopted at 4 months old. Alyson traveled back to Korea in 2010 with G.O.A.L.'s First Trip Home, and she has attended and presented at many KAAN conferences. Alyson actively participates in local adoptee organizations in Central PA, including Ta-Ri and Korean Adult Adoptees of Central PA. She currently works as a Registered Nurse at Penn State Hershey and resides in Harrisburg, PA with her husband, 2 children and 2 step-children.
Becca recently graduated with a degree in health administration. She lives and works in the Bronx and is married to a KAD. This is her first KAAN conference.
Kate is an adult adoptee who was adopted from Seoul as an infant. She is a research project coordinator at Memorial Sloan Kettering in NY. She lives in the Bronx with her wife and two dogs.