Our facilitator’s bring professional experience in diversity along with their personal experience as a multi-racial family member.
Michelle M. Hughes established her own law firm, the Law Offices of Michelle M. Hughes where her legal practice focuses primarily on adoption, (working with private agencies, independent adoption, co-parent adoption , DCFS, and related adoptions). She is a member of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys; a board member of AMEA (Association of Multiethnic Americans); Co-chair of the Confidentiality Intermediate advisory committee for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services; a member of the Chicago Bar Association Adoption Committee; and former Vice Chair of Cook County Bar Association Adoption Committee. Michelle has been involved with multiracial family organizations for over 15 years and is part of a multiracial family. Since 1991, Michelle has been organizing and conducting seminars on transracial adoption. In 1994, she co-founded Bridge Communications, Inc. specializing in diversity training, with an emphasis on transracial, international and general adoption education, and Biracial identity. Bridge Communications was featured in the film “Outside looking In: Transracial Adoption in America”(2002); and magazine articles in Adoption Today (February/March 2004); and Chicago Magazine (September 1996). She has been quoted regularly in the newspapers and magazines and has been featured on various radio and TV programs concerning issues of transracial adoption and biracial identity. She is a regular speaker for many adoption educational conferences. Additionally, she has testified before the Illinois legislature on multiracial identity and adoption legislation.
Carmen Knight is an international transracial adoptee from Peru. Her undergraduate degree is in Social Science Education and Secondary Education, and she is currently finishing her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. Carmen has been working in the adoption community since 2006 and is currently associated with both Bridge Communications, Inc. and The Ties Program, which does heritage tours for international adoptees and their families. Some of her past experiences in the adoption field include working at culture camps and adoptee camps, leading classes and seminars on adoption topics at conferences and for various adoption agencies, speaking on adoptee panels, helping families prepare logistically and emotionally for touring their child’s homeland, emotionally supporting families doing birth searches and reunions, and working with adoptive families as a therapist. Carmen has also co-created an adoptee group for tweens and teen at the International Adoption Clinic and an adoptive family weekend at the YMCA Minkani, both in Milwaukee.
Antoinette M. Ayers is an adoptive parent and transracial adoptee with 13 siblings (9 who are also adopted). Antoinette is the former co-owner in Bridge Communications, Inc. with experience in Diversity Training, Corporate Communications, Executive Coaching and Tele-training. In the early 1990’s Antoinette began providing her experience as a transracial adoptee and professional trainer to represent the multi-racial community. She is a speaker for adoption agencies, adoption associations, TV and radio shows. She has a B.S. from Northern Illinois University, is a Certified Corporate Coach and former V.P. of Training for the World Association of Business Coaches. She is the Founder and current board Chair for the International Stillbirth Alliance
Cindy M. Bass is a member of a multiracial family. She and her husband, Dwayne, are raising two biological multiracial sons. She has a BS degree in education from DePaul University and a MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management. With prior teaching experience and an extensive 10-year career in banking, Cindy recently opened her own training consulting firm specializing in employee customer relations. She has knowledge and experience in developing and implementing training programs for products, policies, procedures, sales, management, customer service, and diversity training. As a corporate trainer, she works with companies by facilitating their training material for employee enhancement education. Cindy is also an active member of her community having served on the board of Parents Who Care, and as treasurer for her condominium association.
Vera Clemons is currently completing a Master’s of Public Administration. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in May 2000 from the University of Illinois-Champaign/Urbana, where she double majored in Speech Communications/ Rhetoric with an emphasis of Pre-Law. Her future goal is to redesign organizations by encouraging diversity training in the workplace.
Vera has an Irish, German, and African American heritage. Her proud parents encouraged a very culturally enriched background. This experience helped her identify with organizations like Bridge to recognize the unique background of multi-ethic people as well as promote diversity to everyone.
Currently, Vera works as a paralegal for the City of Chicago –Law Department. In addition, she is an active member of Illinois Paralegal Association. Also, she is President of her condo association.
Previously, she has worked for America Reads as a teacher’s assistant to third and fourth graders teaching them Writing and spelling. Also, she was employed at Bridge/Transition in Champaign-Urbana as a mentor to incoming college students.
Bridgette Glickman, MSW, is a multiracial adult who has worked in the social service for over 10 years – mainly in child and family centered programs. Bridgette is a “special needs” adoption specialist and coordinator of a weekly televised adoption feature program. She regularly presents at conferences and has trained many child welfare professionals in adoption. Bridgette is currently the host and producer of a Chicago cable television program, “Multiracial Millennium”, that focuses on topics relevant to multiracial families and individuals.
Christopher Gray is an international transracial adoptee born in Masan, South Korea and raised at Hickam Airforce base in Honolulu, HI. He is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a double major in Molecular and Cellular Biology and East Asian Languages and Cultures with an emphasis on Korea. Within the East Asian Languages and Cultures department, along side the department head, he co-directed numerous culture workshops targeted for youths of East Asian descent, both adopted and non-adopted, who wanted to learn more about their Asian heritage. He has also been involved with Catholic Charities and their children’s services in the southern Illinois area, as well as Holt International and their adoptee camp program.
Jacqueline Grossmann and her husband are adoptive parents of two children who are African- American. Her children were adopted as infants and are now in their early teens. Jacqueline lives in a multi-racial suburb outside of Chicago and she works for a Fair Housing agency. She has worked in Social Service for over 25 years and is experienced in running groups and working with individuals. She has received training from the Anti- Defamation League and was a diversity trainer with the National Coalition Building Institute.
Kate Mariner, MA, MSW, is a multiracial transracial adoptee born in rural Oregon. She holds a BA in Anthropological Sciences from Stanford University, as well as an MA in Anthropology and an MSW from the University of Chicago. She is currently an Anthropology PhD Candidate at the University of Chicago, writing her dissertation on private adoption in the Chicago area, where she has been carrying out ethnographic fieldwork since 2009. Her research explores how social workers, birth mothers, and adoptive parents navigate the pre-adoption period and negotiate the risk and uncertainty inherent to the private adoption process. Kate has lived in Chicago since 2008 and during that time has been involved in the Hands Around the World Culture Camp for transracial and international adoptees, University of Chicago’s International Adoption Clinic, and Children’s Research Triangle. She also spent a summer at Wediko Children’s Services in New Hampshire, as a direct care residential counselor for 15- and 16-year old girls struggling with emotional and behavioral issues, many of whom were adopted.
Gina Samuels is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago and Faculty Affiliate of the Center for the Study of Race Politics and Culture. Her scholarly interests include transracial adoption, mixed race and multiethnic identity formation, and the development of relational, kinship, and cultural ties among young adults whose childhoods are shaped by foster care and adoption. Dr. Miranda Samuels’ scholarship and publications critically explore how personal identity and well being are constrained and promoted by child welfare policy and practice, parental socialization, and by societal and personal constructions of race and family. She is a consulting editor for several professional journals, speaks widely on issues of adoption, multiraciality, and issues relevant to youth aging out of foster care, and teaches a professional development course on transracial adoption to professionals in the adoption field. Dr. Miranda Samuels has practiced social work in the areas of child welfare and child protective services, juvenile probation, Afrocentric school-based tutoring programs, and group therapy with female youth. Click here to view her faculty page. Click here to view her Curriculum Vitae with publication information.
Suzanne YR Switzer (Bang Soo Youn) was born in Pyoungtaek, South Korea and adopted when she was six months old through A.A.C. Adoption and Family Network, Inc. She grew up in Denver, Colorado and currently resides in Chicago, IL where she just recently finished her Masters in Child Development. She is an active member of the adoption community working with prospective/ newly adoptive parents and young adoptees and their families. In 1999, Suzanne was reunited with her identical twin sister, older brother, and birth parents in Korea whom she remains close with today. Since then, she has also reconnected with her large Korean extended family. Suzanne has been involved with Bridge Communications since 2007, in addition to presenting and participating in other adoption conferences nationwide. Her passion within the adoption community continues to grow daily, not only as a personal journey, but also as a learning experience.
Krista McCoy, M.S.W., LCSW, is a biracial (African American/Caucasian), transracial adoptee who holds a BA degree in Sociology from Roosevelt University in Chicago and a Master of Social Work degree (MSW) from the University of Illinois. She is also an Illinois Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Krista has been a conference presenter/trainer on issues of foster care and adoption since 1994. Specialty topics include transracial adoption, foster care/foster to adoption, openness in adoption, search and reunions, and adoption through the lifespan. She has extensive clinical experience in the field of foster care, adoption, mental health, substance abuse as well as child, adult and family therapy. She served 2 terms on the IL Adoption Advisory Council and served from 1993-2000 on the Board of Directors of Bethany Christian Services, a social service agency. She has met several members of her birth family including birthfather, grandfather, aunt, cousins and one brother. She continues to make connections with birth family; many years after being adopted. In 2011, she established Integrity Clinical Consulting and Training LLC., www.integrityclinicalconsulting.com which provides therapy services, training to professionals and general public, and social service agency consulting in various social work practice areas.