AFAAD Board of Directors
Lisa Marie Rollins, M.A, M.A., Ph.D. Student
Founder and Executive Director
Lisa Marie Rollins is the Founder and Director of Adopted and Fostered Adults of the African Diaspora. Lisa Marie was adopted into a white family in Washington State in the 1970’s. She has authored “A Birth Project”, a blog focusing on transracial adoption and black diasporic identity since 2006. She has been featured on CNN, Huffington Post, NPR, KPFA, KPFK and was given the honor of one of Colorlines Magazine’s “Innovators to Watch” for her social justice work around black adoptees. She is a writer and multidisciplinary performance artist. Her one woman show, “Ungrateful Daughter”
Lisa Marie was Adoption Education Specialist at Pact, An Adoption Alliance from 2006-2008. Lisa Marie holds an M.A. in Cultural Studies focusing in African American Women’s Literature, an M.A. in African American Studies and is currently on leave from her doctoral program in African Diaspora Studies at U.C. Berkeley. Her dissertation work takes a cultural studies approach to reproductive justice, the right to parent – focuses on the construction of black women’s bodies in the discourse of domestic and international adoption, and how those themes emerge in the literatures of adoption memoir. This work partially examines the concept of diaspora as a useful, healing place for identification for displaced black bodies to assert a kind of (re)location. Read more about her on A Birth Project.
Karie Gaska, MSW, Ph.D Candidate
Community and Operations Director
Karie Gaska is an adoptee who grew up in Long Island, New York. She is currently a fellow with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) temporarily assigned to the bay area. She is working with the Urban Male Health Initiative at the Alameda County Public Health Department to address improving health outcomes for men of color. She spent much of her career in Washington, DC working with children and their families in various settings including school support programs, community mental health programs, and in the child welfare system. She holds an MSW from Howard University with a focus in macro practice in health settings and a BA from Brown University with a double major in Ethnic Studies & Psychology. She is a Ph.D. Candidate in Psychology at Georgia State University. She recently reunited with her birthmother and considers this one of the major milestones of her life.
Lisa Walker, M.A.
Outreach and Education Director
Lisa Walker (or “Walker” as she prefers) is a bi-racial adoptee who grew up in an African-American family. She is the Director of Cross Cultural Student Development at the University of California at Berkeley. Walker works in concert with a variety of campus communities to implement multicultural programming and to address campus climate issues for a diverse student population. She has also served as a consultant for the College Board, Oakland Unified School District and a number of educational, non-profit and public policy organizations on topics including: diversity, violence prevention, and strategic planning.
Walker is a founding board member of Cinnamongirl, a mentorship program for Black and Chicana/Latina girls ages 12-14 in Oakland. In her professional and community service roles, Ms. Walker strives to increase educational, social and cultural opportunities for young people.
Ian Hagemaan (Seattle)
Strategic Planning and Development Director
Dr. Julia Sudbury aka Julia Chinyere Oparah is a Nigerian Igbo/ British woman who was adopted into a multiracial family in Scotland in the1960s. After moving to the U.S., she became a professor of Ethnic Studies at Mills College, a women’s liberal arts college in Oakland. She is the author of Other Kinds of Dreams: Black Women’s Organisations and the Politics of Transformation (Routledge 1998) and editor of GlobalLockdown: Race, Gender and the Prison-Industrial Complex (Routledge 2005). Her recently co-edited book Outsiders Within: Writing onTransracial Adoption (South End Press 2006) brings together powerful critical analysis, poetry and artwork by transracial/international adoptees and their allies. Julia is involved in the prison abolitionist, anti-violence and global justice movements.
frmr. Strategic Planning and Development Director and Founding Board Member
Connie is a founding board member of AFAAD: Adopted & Fostered Adults of the African Diaspora and has directed the Children’s Program at Pact Camp, training families adopting and fostering children of different races. Connie is an Afro-Caribbean adoptee from San Andres Island, Colombia, who grew up with a Caucasian family in the United States from the late 1970s onward.
As Urban Habitat´s Director of Programs, Connie leads the organization’s climate, transportation, land use and affordable housing work and advances UH’s agenda on key partner coalitions. While a Program Coordinator at UH, Connie led the Bay Area Social Equity Caucus through a 10 year Evaluation and Strategic Plan, resulting in UH’s launch of the State of the Region, Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute, and Speakers and Writers Bureau programs. On behalf of UH Connie has completed the Women’s Foundation of California’s Women’s Policy Institute training, the University of Southern California’s Ross Program in Real Estate, and National Development Council’s Real Estate Finance Certification. Prior to her years at Urban Habitat, Connie coordinated the Regional Sustainability Initiative at Redefining Progress. Through a fellowship from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Connie has worked with a variety of California organizations on urban planning issues, including the Earned Asset Resource Network (EARN), Unity Council, and Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE). She has also worked as a planner and funding liaison for United Way of the Inland Valleys in Riverside, CA and as a Peace Corps volunteer leading sustainable tourism development projects in Bolivia’s Amazon Basin.
In addition to her volunteer work with AFAAD Connie previously served on the board of the California Planning Foundation, and is currently serving as Diversity Director on the California Chapter of the American Planning Association’s Northern Section board. Connie earned her M.C.P. in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley and a Bachelors Degree in Communications & Spanish from La Sierra University.
Previous Board Members:
Cyndy Snyder, M.Ed
Cyndy is a multiracial kinship adoptee raised by her grandparents in Washington State. Her work has focused on supporting the experiences of students of color in higher education. Before coming to the Bay Area, she previously worked in student affairs and educational research at the University of Washington. Cyndy is a doctoral student in Educational Policy at UC Berkeley. Her focus areas include: multiracial and transracial adoptees in schools, women of color in education, and higher education administration.
Dr. John Raible, Ed.D
John Raible has been educating adoptive parents and social workers about transracial adoption for more John Raible than thirty years. John was adopted in 1963 and raised in the USA in Wisconsin and Massachusetts. As a single, openly gay father, John adopted two African American sons from foster care. He served as president of Black Linkage for Adoptive Children (BLAC) in Los Angeles in the late 1980s. BLAC was a group advocating for the needs of children of African descent in foster care, and was especially interested in promoting adoption in the African American community of Los Angeles. John is well-known for his media appearances on Sally Jesse Raphael, the Joan Rivers Show, and in the films “Struggle For Identity: Issues in Transracial Adoption” and “A Conversation 10 Years Later.” Currently, Dr. Raible works as a professor of education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he teaches courses on multicultural education and family diversity. His research looks at the influence of diversity on the identities of white individuals in transracial adoptive families and in other racially integrated contexts.