We are proud that Pact's staff and Board reflect the world's racial diversity and include members of all elements of the adoption triad (adopted people, adoptive parents and birth parents) and their families. We asked them to share a few thoughts about why they are committed to Pact. We also have an Adult Adoptee of Color Advisory Board with members who are asked to give feedback and advice to the organization.
Ojas Rege (Board President) and his wife Jill (an interracial couplehe is East Indian-Canadian and she is white) have adopted two African American children, who are brothers by birth and adoption, and also have an older son born to them. Formerly at Yahoo, he is now Vice President of Products at MobileIron, a high-tech startup. "Pact is unique; no one else offers the mix of pragmatism and passion that Beth and the team bring to the complicated world of adoption."
Winslow Holmes (Board Secretary, Fundraising Chair) is part of an interracial couple (he is British of African descent, his partner is white) who have a son adopted through Pact. He is a software engineer and technology manager. "It is directly attributable to Beth and Pact that our family has been able to articulate our individual and collective feelings about being an adoption family."
Francois Choquette (Treasurer) is a white transracial parent of two African American boys (one adopted through Pact) and one daughter born to him and his partner, Marie-Claude. He is the Senior Vice President of Aon Consulting and a Fellow of the US and Canadian Institute of Actuaries. "Pact has changed my life. It made me realize that I need to do more than just 'love' my two black boys. Pact has been instrumental in helping us as a family to understand the challenges they have to go through every single day of their life."
Alan Gellman (Marketing & Strategic Planning Chair) and his wife Arlene are parents to two children, their son who is born to them, and their biracial daughter whom they adopted across racial lines. Alan is Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing at Wells Fargo Bank and brings his vision and experience in business management, branding and marketing to help Pact expand its reach and impact. "Beth and Pact have opened our eyes to what it means to be a transracial family, even when that fact isn't always obvious to others. Their commitment to the kids first is evident in everything they do, including how they educate all members of the adoption community."
Jovita Thomas-Williams (Nomination and Governance Chair) is an African American single parent of a teenage son, Alan, born to her. A global human resources executive, Jovita is President and Founder of JTW Affiliates, LLC, an HR consulting/management services firm for evolving businesses. Jovita and Alan spend the school year at their home in Birmingham, MI (a Detroit suburb), and the rest of the year hanging out at their home in Las Vegas. "As a passionate advocate for children, I am honored to be a part of the Pact team because it embodies my strong belief that only by truly embracing differences can we change the world, one child at a time."
Marcia Bedford and her husband Ron are an African American couple who adopted their son through foster care. Marcia has worked in private schools for many years and most recently is the Assistant Head and Director of Admissions at Julia Morgan School for Girls in Oakland, CA. She brings her passion for children and her understanding of their needs to her work for Pact. "The Pact programs have been so important to my family and there is no other institution like it anywhere. I want to be part of ensuring that Pact exists to inform, support and advocate for adoptive families now and in the future."
Susan Ito is a biracial Asian adoptee, physical therapist, performer and writer. From 2004 through 2010, she served as the Director of Pact Family Camp and is currently the Chair of the Adult Adoptee Advisory Board. She is the co-editor of the anthology Ghost At Heart Edge: Stories & Poems of Adoption (North Atlantic Books) and serves on the leadership team for the Adoption Museum Project. Her work has appeared in many publications, including Growing Up Asian American, CHOICE, Making More Waves, Hip Mama and Literary Mama. She has developed The Ice Cream Gene as a solo performance piece and memoir in progress. She works as a home health physical therapist and as a writer at the San Francisco’s Writers’ Grotto . She lives in Oakland with her husband, two daughters and mother.
Suzanna Mak and her husband, Asa Denton (he is British and Caucasian, she is American of Chinese descent) have two children, one of whom was adopted. An attorney and businessperson, Suzanna considers motherhood her most important job. She is currently devoting her time to her family, and educational causes. "Adoption, in both same-race and transracial placements, is often characterized by intense emotions, either productive or suppressive or both. Pact contributes intelligence, rational thought and broad experience to the threshold decisions and lifelong journeys for people touched by adoption."
Jeff Wilk is the Creative Director and a principal at Tencue Productions, a live communications agency. His family: business and life partner, Kristin, and their two children, the youngest of whom joined the family through foster-adoption, believe in giving back to the community in significant ways. They have been no different with Pact. “For six years my family has been embraced by the Pact community. We have grown with the sometimes gentle, sometimes forceful hand of Pact’s crew of advisors. The voice of Pact should expand. There are so many kids. So many families."
Annette Carnegie is an African American single parent to two African American boys adopted through Pact, and was herself adopted by relatives as a child. She is currently Senior Counsel for the Kaiser Health Foundation and was formerly a partner at the law firm Morrison & Foerster, which has donated legal services to Pact for many years. "As a Pact client I have experienced firsthand the tremendous expertise and thoughtfulness Pact brings to the adoption experience."
Elayne Chou and her husband, Dan, (she is Chinese-American and he is White) adopted their daughter from Taiwan and are eagerly anticipating adopting their second child through Pact. A psychologist, career coach, and diversity trainer, Elayne has donated consulting services for Pact trainings. In her private practice she specializes in counseling adolescents and adults of color, with a particular emphasis on working with Asian-Americans, including Asian adoptees. “Pact is such a great, unique, and important organization.”
LisaGay Hamilton is an actor and teacher, and she and her husband (both African American) adopted their second son through Pact. "I feel passionately about the work that Pact does and Beth's commitment to a just, anti-racist process. I've learned quite a bit on this journey and I've been shocked by the level of unethical, ill-informed, and racially insensitive practices in the adoption worldpublic and private. Pact was a breath of fresh air, both for its guidance on these sensitive issues and for its unwavering commitment to open adoption."
Mary Anne Rodgers and her husband John are adoptive parents to Matt and Emily (adopted transracially). Mary Anne currently works as General Counsel for the David and Lucille Packard Foundation. "I met Beth and Gail [Pact's co-founder] when they were first launching Pact, while we worked together on a board. I believe in their integrity to the point where we consulted them for own family's formation. I continue to support their work for children and family."
James Rucker and his wife (they are an interracial couple; he is African American) adopted through Pact, as have several of their friends. James himself is an adoptee who has reunited with his birth family. James is interested in helping Pact scale up their services on a national basis in order to provide its ethical and honest adoption services to more families. He is a co-founder of colorofchange.org, an online activist organization that aims to strengthen the voice of African Americans. He served as Director of Grassroots Mobilization for MoveOn Political and Civic Action from 2003 to 2005, and currently serves on the board of the Southern Poverty Law Center.