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Key Volunteer Spotlight: Chris Shepard

Name: Chris Shepard

Pronouns: he/him/his

Where do you call home? Somerville, MA, USA

What is your volunteer role? Tech Lead, supporting technology-related solutions to help the organization operate and serve our community.

Chris assisting at KAAN Conference 2019

Tell us a little about yourself. How do you spend your time outside of KAAN?

I'm a Product Design Manager at a Boston EdTech startup called Ellevation Education. I lead a team designing software solutions that serve English Language Learning students, teachers, and administrators. I enjoy the collaboration, creativity, and problem solving of my work.

Outside of work, I like to golf. I even worked on a golf course for a few years as a groundskeeper (the free golf was a great perk). I've also been taking advantage of the extended time at home by relearning how to play the trumpet. I played in high school and really enjoyed it. Lastly, I have a crazy-fun cat named Desmond who plays fetch, hide and seek, and even knows a few tricks. I have to believe he was a dog in a previous life.

How did you hear about KAAN?

My partner stumbled across KAAN’s website back in 2017. She shared it with me and we decided to attend.

How did you decide to get involved in KAAN?

After attending my first conference in 2017, I was very passionate about the organization's mission and met so many great people. Since I work in technology, I noticed the old website was in need of some updates, so I decided to reach out and see how I could help with redesigning the website and other tech-related improvements.

From there, we went on to building a mobile app for our annual conference and other tech projects that help KAAN run more smoothly.

Chris and Alma in Oban, Scotland

What issues/topics related to adoption are you most interested in?

I’m particularly interested in sessions around identity, transracial adoption, and the added layer of complexity in answering the question “Who am I?” with transracial adoptees.

I’m also interested in hearing other adoptee stories and experiences, and learning how everyone’s story is unique in its own way.

What do you love most about the KAAN community?

KAAN has always provided an open and safe space to share deeply personal stories and experiences with one another. I appreciate how warm and thoughtful the community is, and always strives to make everyone feel welcome.

Chris, Alma, and Line Friends in Seoul, South Korea

What is a fun or random fact people might not know about you?

I played football in high school as a wide receiver, and rugby at UMass Amherst as a scrum half. I stopped playing contact sports after a few concussions, but I really enjoyed playing while I did.

Anything else you'd like to share with the KAAN community?

In November 2019, I visited Korea for the first time since being adopted. I went to Seoul, Busan, Gwangju, and Jeju Island all in two weeks. We hiked to the summit of Hallasan, the tallest mountain in South Korea while we were in Jeju.

I was also reunited with my birth mother in December 2019. We have been connecting through Kakao and Facetime, and hope to meet each other in person sometime next year.

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