I was adopted at the approximate age of two in 1976 to the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities. My story, though similar to many, differed in the fact that my adoption was a private adoption and not through an Agency. Growing up I never knew anything about my Korean heritage or culture and had no exposure to anything more than Korean food once a year in my late teens. I had often heard Minnesota had the largest population of Korean Adoptees but had no exposure to this community until well into later adulthood.
In 2015 through the assistance of G.O.A.’L. Korea I was able to reunite with my birth family. It was through this journey and reunion I realized the lack of post-adoption and post-reunion services that are available to international Adoptees, specifically Korean Adoptees. I believe Adoptee Hub can help to bridge this gap for international Adoptees of all ages who are looking to connect with their heritage, culture, need assistance in the birth family search, or post reunion services. Wherever we are on our personal journey, the journey is never-ending and always changing. Adoptee Hub can be there to assist in whatever part of the journey the Adoptee is on. I am excited to be a member of this board as I look forward to giving back and supporting this community as it continues to grow and evolve.
I was adopted when I was nine months old by two Caucasian parents of German descent. My older sister, who is also a Korean adoptee, and I were raised in the suburbs in Minnesota. I currently live in Inver Grove Heights, just a few miles south of St. Paul, Minnesota. For the last nine years, I’ve worked in New Product Development at Thomson Reuters, where I’m currently a manager. I am also licensed to practice law in Minnesota.
I started the journey into my Korean heritage in my early forties. Because of that, I’ve come to recognize many of the things that make it difficult for older adoptees, especially those who are first exploring their heritage, to connect with the larger adoptee community. I want to make it easier for adoptees to connect regardless of age, identity or background. I believe that the Adoptee Hub can help facilitate these connections. I feel fortunate to have been supported by many wonderful adoptees since I started my journey, and I welcome the chance to show the same support to others.
Director of Communications
Brooklyn, New York
Mari currently lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband Jeremy and their newborn son, Sawyer. She was born in Incheon, South Korea and was adopted by American parents at 4 months of age. She grew up in Westchester, NY and has lived in NYC for 18 years.
Currently, Mari is Assistant Vice President, Consumer & Digital Experience, The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, headquartered in Manhattan. In her prior role as Head of Digital & Social Media, she promoted the company, through its website, social media pages, and digital advertising. She now focuses on consumer experience and digital strategy. Mari is also a member of AKA (Also Known As), a Korean adoptee organization based in NYC, where she has been a mentor to other Korean adoptees. She was also a camp counselor at Holt camp. Recently, Mari visited Korea in January 2018 to conduct a birth family search. After experiencing the many challenges of the birth family search process, she returned from this trip committed to helping other adoptees with their own birth searches and their adoption journeys. She is very excited to be part of Adoptee Hub to help bring much-needed services to adoptees.
Director of Information Technology
Li Quaites has worked in the IT industry for over 30 years and is currently the Technology Director for a commercial real estate company in Omaha, Nebraska.
She was born to a Barbadian father and Korean mother in a rural village two hours north of Seoul, near the DMZ. Her mother struggled as a single mom and relinquished Li for adoption when she was 2 years old. Raised by a Black military family in midwestern United States, Li and her husband raised two daughters in America’s heartland.
Li formally began her birth family search in 2015, and made a trip to Korea in August of 2019—her first trip back since she left the motherland in 1970. Fellow adoptees rallied around her during that trip, supporting each other mentally and emotionally. That was Li’s first experience with the adoptee community and it inspired her to help other adoptees along their journey.
Board of Director
According to my records, I was “found in Seoul” not long after my umbilical was removed. I flew to Chicago because at the time there were no flights from Korea to Michigan. I was adopted by a Catholic family from the west side of Detroit with a Native American foster sister, two biological sons, and later other step-siblings. I always felt a profound longing for my biological family and motherland. Especially growing up and moving between urban, suburban, and later rural areas in a blue-collar family of autoworkers. The Motor City, Motown, and the Murder City informed and shaped my identity from my early memories as “yellow” or “other” and always an “import”. Fortunately, my self-initiated opportunities to learn and embrace my heritage provided centeredness needed for my existence. As a child, I spent many nights with tears looking up at the stars knowing my birth mom was somewhere under the moon too and that we at least shared this…
I always wanted to be in the human services in some capacity helping others not fall through the cracks. My interest and passion to gain higher education and to be in a position to attempt to address the broader issues of international adoption and empower underrepresented populations including my narrative as a transracial/transnational adoptee. In high school, I started my formal birth search in the states and later on TV and newspaper when I lived in Seoul the 3rd time. At 16, I started working at a wig shop on the east side of Detroit with my first pretend mom, Ms. Chin. She gave me “immigrant” tough love motivating me to never settle for what was presented before me and to cultivate my natural hustle and heart to make the world mine. As an undergrad, I had another transformation. I officially changed my name back to my birth name so it would be on my diploma and to start my professional career…
Some of my adoptee community involvement includes: Holt International Summer School at Ilsan; Culture camp counselor in Michigan & Holt-New Jersey; presenting and moderating spoken word performances at KAAN in Seattle & Minneapolis; advocacy for Justice for Adoptees Campaign for Russell Green, International adoption worker for Lutheran Adoption Service; Search & Reunion Counselor for GOAL; and various KADS efforts in arts in advocacy in SF, LA, & Seoul. My commitment also lies in providing a link between the Korean diaspora and with KADS through my efforts in representation and participation in the larger Asian American and people of color communities through a career in the non-profit sector and community collaborations and organizing. My writing and poetry have been published and performed throughout Korea and the US. I’m a Clinical Team Lead and work with the chronically homeless in LA. I am working toward my license as a Clinical Social Worker, my first book, dual citizenship, always improving my Hangul, and raising my daughter to be a loud & proud Asian American woman. We’re one generation away from the motherland of a rich culture of 5,000 years of history. If you’re reading this you made it this far! I encourage the adoptee community to join us to learn, embrace, heal, expand, and explore all we have is each other. Everyone has a role; let’s build and celebrate our uniqueness!
Founder & CEO
Mounds View, Minnesota
I was born in Korea and found in Challado Iksan. It is guesstimated that I was adopted at the age of 4, after which I grew up in Northern Wisconsin.
I received a B.A. in Social Work, Sociology, and a minor in Native American Indian Studies from Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Since 2011, I have worked with the Department of Human Services, Minnesota. I currently serve as a Policy Program Manager for the State of Minnesota at The Department of Human Services. I work with systems modernization and data systems programs and their policies, processes, and training for Children and Family Services.
Since 1993 I have been giving back to my community by volunteering on boards and as a leader. I have helped various organizations and have served on the Asian Governor’s board of Minnesota for 8 years.
I founded Global Overseas Adoptees Link (G.O.A’L) in Seoul, South Korea, in 1997 and served as its first Secretary-General. I also founded Adoptee Hub on April 9, 2018.
I believe there is a lack of birth search services and disconnect with the birth country culture, language and policies for adoptees in the United States. Additionally, I believe it is important to have a physical space for adoptees to meet others who have similar background experiences, find a sense of belonging in a community to call their own, access support and resources to find their identity, their culture, language, history, biological family, and relate through studies, data, books, film, art and music, group counseling, and group therapy sessions.
Volunteer Print Designer
Seoul, South Korea
I work in the prepress sector of the Graphic & Printing industry. I am an adoptee that recently found the adoptee community in Minnesota and am appreciative of the connections I have made. I volunteer for Adoptee Hub because I recognize the importance of its mission and values.
Volunteer Technical Coordinator
I was adopted at six months of age in 1984 and grew up in Brainerd, Minnesota. Attending Korean culture camp as a child, I have always had exposure to Korean culture. I have worked in IT services for about 10 years. I am married to another Korean adoptee and now live in Woodbury, Minnesota.
I have been to Korea once in 2005, spending my 21st birthday there. I joined Adoptee Hub because I want to support the community and help Adoptee Hub bring new services to adoptees.
Volunteer Social Media Specialist
I was born in Bucheon, South Korea and was adopted when I was four months old. I grew up in Mahtomedi, MN, moved to Middleton, WI, and then moved to Rochester, MN when I was in middle school through high school. I went to college at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where I majored in Fashion Merchandising and minored in Business. Since graduating, I’ve made the decision to transition into a career in digital marketing starting with social media. I’ve been doing part-time and independent contractor roles that leverage my Fashion Merchandising degree and desire to gain experience in social media. I reside in Saint Paul, MN.
Last summer, I went to South Korea for the first time since being adopted. It was a life-changing experience and made me want to get more involved in the Korean Adoptee Community in my area.
I attended Adoptee Hub’s kick-off event last Fall. It really resonated with me and made me want to get involved especially with their social media.
Amanda Parrish is technical writer who was born in Seongnam, a suburb of Seoul, South Korea. She was raised in the white-populated area of Little Korea, the Koreatown of the metropolitan DC area, and lived in the Korean-populated area of Little Korea for more than 10 years. In 2017, she moved to Denver, CO, where she met her husband. They’ve been married for a little under two years. She volunteers at Adoptee Hub as a copywriter to help stand up a birth search portal, among other adult adoptee services.
I was adopted at four months old from South Korea and raised in Minnesota. I am the youngest of four Korean adoptee siblings. I attended Korean Culture Camp and Saturday Korean School since I was very little and I always had exposure to Korean Culture. My parents have also been very involved within the Korean adoptee community throughout my life.
I went to St. Cloud State University where I majored in Mass Communications with an emphasis in Advertising and minored in Graphic Design. Continuing my education, I earned my M.A. in Strategic Communication Management at Concordia University.
I have been to Korea three times since being adopted, but last summer (2019) was my first time back as an adult. Being there as an adult was a life changing experience for me. Currently, I have done four different birth searches with no luck. It was hard to navigate my searches and I feel there is a lack of streamlined services and information.
I want to help bridge that gap to make it easier for adoptees to conduct a search and get the emotional support needed throughout the process. I joined Adoptee Hub because I believe in the services and education currently being provided and want to be part of the future goals it aims to achieve.
I was born in Cheongju, South Korea and was adopted when I was 9 months old. Raised in a family of 10 in Stillwater, Minnesota, I am the youngest of 8 kids, five of whom are adopted from Korea. I’m currently married to another Korean Adoptee and now live in Woodbury, Minnesota. I have been a Lead Infant Teacher at a non-profit school for 7 years.
I have been to Korea 11 times and have met my birth family at the age of 6. I am still in contact with them. Both of my parents, as well as two brothers, are alive and well. They all attended my wedding in 2017.
I joined Adoptee Hub because I see this as a great opportunity for adoptees to get information. Whether it’s about finding birth family, needing tips, or just the need to be with other adoptees as emotional support.
I was born Pyun MiRa, became Aimee Houglum, and I am currently Aimee Aase. I was adopted at 8 months old to a small town in SE Minnesota in 1972. I believed what my adoption papers stated, that my birth parents were coworkers who were not married and that my Father left after my mother became pregnant. In 1995, I found out that was all a lie when my bio Mother, Father, & brothers found me and we were reunited.
I am grateful to live in such a large community of adoptees who share my unique journey in life. Growing up in a town of 1500 in the ‘70s-‘80s, I didn’t have a lot of exposure to other adoptees or my native culture. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties that I met and became involved with other adoptees. I feel that it is vital that we support each other and help each other navigate through our adoption experiences. I believe that Adoptee Hub not only helps adoptees to heal and grow but also celebrate our unique histories.
Executive Director of Global Arts Festival
Seoul, South Korea
Dr. Lee is a Visiting Professor of Sogang University, Korea for the past 7 years. He is the Founder and was the Artistic Director of Mu Performing Arts(Theatre Mu), Minneapolis, United States.
Dr. Lee has raised millions of dollars for dozens of Korea universities and organizations. He has a Ph.D. in Theatre Arts from the University of Minnesota and has a master’s in Theatre Arts from the University of Minnesota, United States. Dr. Lee is a recipient of the Minister’s awards from the Dept.of Education & Science, Korea; the Governor’s award, of ChungNam Province, Korea; the President’s Award from the Ministry of Public Admin, Korea; the Post Doctoral Fellowship of Harvard University; along with dozen’s more.
Honorary Board Member
Seoul, South Korea
Grand National Party, a former member of the Korean National Assembly.
Naomi Chu is the Vice President of Asset Management, currently responsible for the direct supervision of the Asset Management team and the operational aspects of the Artspace portfolio. This includes supporting Asset Managers as they encounter challenges in the operational aspects of their properties, as well as supporting Asset Managers in identifying solutions when facing challenges in the community. Naomi partners with the Senior Vice President of Properties to plan and implement departmental initiatives. She also ensures smooth transitions from the property development phase of activity to operations.
Naomi is also a Program Manager of the Rafala Green Fellowship Program. This fellowship program seeks to promote equity and inclusion in nonprofit real estate by training the next generation of POCI emerging leaders working at the intersection of arts, real estate, and community development. Fellows are introduced to the core competencies of property development and exposed to Artspace best practices while working on current projects in the Artspace pipeline across the country. Previously, she served as the Director and visionary behind Artspace’s Art Bridge Program, a long-distance collaboration program that worked with social justice arts organizations across the country to advance the use of video conferencing technology for artistic collaboration, expanding the vision of new workspaces for artists and arts organizations.
Naomi began working with Artspace in 1997 through a local property management company, handling Artspace’s commercial properties in the Twin Cities. In 1998, she was hired to create Artspace’s first for-profit subsidiary, Performance Property Management Company, which allowed Artspace to run their local commercial property management team in-house. In 2005, Naomi took leave from Artspace to become Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Cultural Center, a nonprofit organization focused on developing a Pan-Asian center to celebrate, promote, and foster understanding of Asian Pacific cultural heritage in Minnesota, where she gained valuable experience employing the Artspace model. In 2008, Naomi returned to Artspace in the role of Finance Manager.
Naomi graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology and Saint Paul Technical College with an Associate Degree in Applied Science as an American Sign Language Interpreter/Translator.
Naomi brings a unique skill set to the Artspace team, from her managerial experience and financial expertise; to her comprehensive background in government relations, development, and community engagement. She takes great pride in her contributions to Artspace’s partnerships with First Peoples Fund in South Dakota; PA’I Foundation in Hawaii; and Turtle Mountain Tribal Arts Association in North Dakota.
Honorary Board Member
Seoul, South Korea
Mr. Woo is Founder/CEO/President of ToysAnd Corp. located in Seoul, Korea which provides arts & education contents and services at indoor and outdoor entertaining events using platform toys. He builds human capability across functional, global, and cultural boundaries. He is the founder and CEO of Strategic HRD, Organization Development & Change, Post Global Merger Integration. Mr. Woo is an Adjunct Professor at Yonsei Graduate School of Economics at Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea where he teaches courses in Organization Development and Change Management, Global Leadership.
He specializes in Strategic Human Resource Management and Human Resource Development, Organization Development & Change: culture change, cross-culture team building, leadership development, conflict management. He also specializes in Training & development: needs assessment, instructional design, program implementation, and HRD evaluation as well as Recruitment and selection (interviewing skills), competency modeling & assessment
Honorary Board Member
Seoul, South Korea
As Managing Director, Dan provides overall leadership and managing of Equis Korea. Focused on providing a paramount level of efficient and effective services in the commercial real estate needs for multinational clients in office, industrial, investments, and retail areas of acquisition and disposition, relocation and expansion, tenant representation, landlord representation and development consulting in Korea. Mr. Pak attended Northwestern College of Chiropractic where he received his Doctor of Chiropractic degree. He also attended Winona State University to study Pre-medicine. And finally, he attended Cannon Falls High School and graduated with honors with 5 major scholarships.