Since the Korean War in the 1950’s and continuing to the present day, the practice of intercountry adoption in Asian countries (as well as in Eastern Europe, Africa and Latin America) has persisted as a way to address the separation of families due to events such as war, famine, poverty, natural disasters and other other socioeconomic factors.
In America there are are more than 150,000 Korean adoptees and a growing pan-asian adoptee community consisting of Chinese, Taiwanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Indian transracial adoptees. As more Asian adoptees have aged and started families, there have been many studies conducted by transracial adoptee scholars such as Dr. Kim Park Nelson, Dr. Amanda Baden, and others examining the socio-emotional wellbeing of transracial adoptees in the U.S. and the need for expanded post-adoption services.
This panel discussion will feature conversations with Massachusetts state representative Maria Robinson and Maria Leister, J.D., and Kenny Leibe focused on the post-adoption services needed by the transracial Asian Adoptee Community in Massachusetts. This panel will be moderated by Nate Bae Kupel, MSW, Commissioner, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American Commission.
Nate Bae Kupel
Nate Bae Kupel, MSW is a Commissioner and Chair of the Legislative Committee of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Asian American Commission. Nate is currently the Associate Director at the New England of the Institute for Nonprofit Practice, a leadership and management certificate program for nonprofit leaders. He is also the President of the Greater Malden Asian American Community Coalition.
Prior to the Institute for Nonprofit Practice, Nate worked for a healthcare-based marketing and communications firm called Crescendo Consulting Group where he developed digital marketing and innovative digital behavior change programs for healthcare organizations to improve the quality and access of services to at risk populations.
Before joining Crescendo, Nate was the Associate Director of the Academy for Transformation at YouthBuild USA, an international youth leadership and workforce development organization. In his role, he developed trainings, webinars and other technical assistance engagements for the Department of Labor funded grantee organizations across the country.
Nate has also worked at the Institute for Asian American Studies at UMass Boston, the Asian American Resource Workshop SRP program, and served several terms as President of the Boston Korean Adoptees, Inc. Nate holds a Master of Social Work from Simmons College, a BA in Sociology and a Certificate in Asian American Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Representative Maria Duaime Robinson
Representative Maria Duaime Robinson was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 2018. She brings to the State House a decade of experience working in the clean, advanced energy industry. Her experience ranges from working with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources deploying solar panels at municipal water and wastewater facilities to working in state legislatures and agencies in over half of the country to advocating on clean air regulations to providing expert testimony in front of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Representative Robinson also worked for now-Governor Jay Inslee during his term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Originally from Northeastern Pennsylvania (think: the Office), Representative Robinson is the child of public servants and union members, Stephen and Denyse Duaime. She is a lifetime Girl Scout, serves on the boards of the Framingham Public Library Foundation and the Friends of the Framingham Library, and is an elected member of the Framingham Democratic Town Committee. Representative Robinson is an adoptee and is the first Korean-American elected to the state legislature.
Representative Robinson holds degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (S.B. in Chemical Engineering) and the University of Tulsa (Masters of Energy Law). She lives in Framingham with her husband, Matt, their children, their dog Guinness, and Maria’s parents.
Maria Leister, JD, Lawyer, faculty with the Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma, Global Mental Health, Harvard University Fellow, Human Rights educator and Board Member of the Boston Korean Cultural Society. She teaches Human Rights at the intersection of the right to health, mental health equity, justice, and trauma-informed leadership. Maria oversees Leadership Development at Kotter International, a change leadership and cultural transformation consulting firm founded by Chairman, Dr. John Kotter, Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus at the Harvard Business School. Maria has led strategic planning initiatives, developing strategies to create cross-sector engagement for higher education, government, and mission-driven organizations. For nearly a decade she was instrumental in organizational effectiveness initiatives through designing and implementing leadership programs, coaching and mentoring initiatives, and fellowships at Harvard University and Harvard Law School. She is currently involved with designing trauma-informed leadership programs for UNICEF and other NGOs. She has helped design and has been a guest speaker for Human Rights initiatives with Lesley University and Massachusetts General Hospital’s Global Health Residency Fellowship. She holds a Juris Doctorate degree from IU Bloomington and held a fellowship with Harvard University’s Office of the President Administrative Fellows Program.
Kenneth Leibe, born in Manila, raised in Connecticut, and currently residing in the Boston area, Kenneth studied at various art schools in New England, but eventually fell into a career as an Application Systems Engineer at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. In addition to his professional career, he has been involved in the adoptee communities by participating in conferences, camps, and panels locally, nationally (CA, NY, CO), and internationally (Philippines and S.Korea). Outside of the adoptee community, Kenneth has also been part of the Asian American community by volunteering with the Boston Asian American Film Festival. With BAAFF, he has been part of the core planning team, screening committee, production team, and has represented the organization at various film festivals across the country