We are deeply saddened to announce the death of longtime KAAN friend and contributor Ellie Conant on January 1, 2016. Ellie played an important role in a number of conferences over the last seven years, bringing her own brand of style and heart. She came first as a nanny for a family attending the conference and then, like a pied piper, gathered more children around her. The next year, we made it official and signed her up as a youth leader. She also served on several speaker panels, sharing her unique story and perspective with the community.
Ellie was a very special kind of cool, someone who could walk into a room and instantly put everyone at ease, someone who truly saw people and reached out when they needed her.
In Ellie’s honor, Martha Crawford and David Amarel (close family friends of Ellie and her partner Melissa) have partnered with KAAN to create The Ellie Conant Memorial Fund.
Here, in Ellie’s own words, is why the memorial is a fitting one. Excerpted from a piece she and David wrote for Gazillion Voices magazine several years ago, Ellie expresses her initial hesitancy to speak up at KAAN before recognizing the relevancy of her participation:
“…I always thought: ‘I’m Korean but not adopted; I don’t want to crash a crucial space meant for adoptees.’ Also, as a lesbian, I have worked hard to create queer safe spaces, so I was especially sensitive to the topic. I’ve come to realize that, as the queer community has expanded and evolved, so has the KAAN and adoptee community. I believe the Korean hapa story can only enhance and aid dialogue as we work to further connect to each other; what I’ve learned and have had the privilege to share is that there is a profound parallel between the hapa and adoptee experience.” —from Between Tribes with Ellie Conant, Gazillion Voices. 2014. All rights reserved.
Thank you, Ellie, for all that you have given to the community and will continue to give through this fund. You will be missed.
Details on The Ellie Conant Memorial Fund:
The Ellie Conant Memorial Fund supports the voices of queer, biracial, and/or multiracial people by sponsoring KAAN conference costs for speakers of these identities. Gifts to this fund will help keep Ellie’s spirit and legacy alive through an organization she strongly endorsed.
KAAN (the Korean American Adoptee Adoptive Family Network) was founded in 1998 to improve the lives of Korean-born adoptees by connecting the community and providing opportunities for dialogue, education, and support. In pursuit of this mission, KAAN also rallies a network of allies and family members to face common issues together. Ellie was an active member of and leader in this community.
To make a tax-deductible gift in Ellie’s memory: • Mail a check payable to KAAN (write “Ellie’s Fund” in the memo line) to KAAN, Box 714, Camp Hill, PA 17001 • Donate via www.KAANet.org, designating “Ellie’s Fund” in the comments section
KAAN is nonprofit as a project of The Foundation for Enhancing Communities, fiscal sponsor (EIN 01-0564355). Note: Acknowledgment letters and online receipts will list The Foundation’s name, not KAAN’s.
The official registration and financial information of The Foundation for Enhancing Communities may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll free, within Pennsylvania, 1.800.732.0999. Registration does not imply endorsement.
Ellie with Martha, David, and family