• Jon Oaks

Meet Your AC: Stephen Johnson

Updated: Jan 27

Name: Stephen Johnson

Gender Pronouns: He/Him/His

Where do you call home? Austin, TX, USA

Stephen providing updates at the 2019 KAAN conference with Katie Naftzger (former Advisory Council member).

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

Hey fam! Here’s a little about me: I’m a reunited Korean adoptee, entrepreneur, and have been a member of the Advisory Council since 2011. I studied social work at Baylor University and international development at Eastern University's School of Leadership and Development. My partner and I currently live in Austin, Texas, where I work for a technology company and run a small business (makemakgeolli.com).


What is your role on the Advisory Council?

I'm currently serving on the Fundraising Committee (thanks for your donations!), as well as our Scholarship Review team and Wellness Committee focused on building a life-giving community for everyone. I've also served in a variety of other capacities throughout the years as a keynote speaker, performer, session facilitator, proposal reviewer, adoptee dinner wrangler, and pace-setter for the annual Saturday morning jog, among other roles.


How did you hear about KAAN? How did you decide to get involved in the AC?

I first heard about KAAN in 2010 while I was in graduate school in search of somewhere to present my work on adult adoptee leadership models. I knew immediately that I had found my people.

Candid photo of Stephen speaking with Matthew Salesses at the 2016 KAAN conference (author, adoptee, and featured conference speaker).

How many KAAN conferences have you attended?

It's hard to believe that this coming year will be my 10th conference.


What issues/topics related to adoption are you most interested in? (e.g., What types of topics have you presented on or attended at previous KAAN conferences?)

I've previously presented on adult adoptee leadership models, Asian-American male sexuality, theology of adoption, microaggressions, racial reconciliation, and birth family search/reunion.


What do you love most about the KAAN community?

This is a challenging question to answer because there are so many things to love. In a world that can feel lonely for people like us, KAAN is a place where I've found my voice. I love the people I've met and cherished throughout the years, but more than anything, I love knowing that there's at least one weekend throughout the year where I don't have to explain my existence.

Stephen with his partner Whitney on vacation in New York City, arm in arm with the Fearless Girl Statue.

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

I can greet you in over 20 languages!


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

Wherever you are on your journey, you are welcome here.

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