Staff & Board

Core Team

Beth Hall

Beth Hall

Co-Founder & Executive Director

Beth Hall (she/her) is the white adoptive mother of a Latina daughter and an African American son, both now adults, and grew up with an adopted sister. She co-founded Pact in 1991 to combat the discrimination she witnessed against adopted children of color and their birth families. Since that time, she has facilitated the placement of over 1000 infants of color into strong, loving homes. She is the co-author, with Gail Steinberg, of the book Inside Transracial Adoption (Perspectives Press, 2000, 2nd edition, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2013), as well as numerous articles on adoption and race. She is a nationally known advocate for adopted children of color who regularly lectures and leads workshops on ethical, child-centered, anti-racist adoption practices. Email: beth@pactadopt.org

 

Full Profile
Beth Hall (she/her) is the white adoptive mother of a Latina daughter and an African American son, both now adults, and grew up with an adopted sister. She co-founded the non-profit Pact, An Adoption Alliance, in 1991 to combat the discrimination she witnessed against adopted children of color and their birth families. Pact has grown to a national organization that provides lifelong education, support, and community to adopted children of color and their families; it has also become a licensed full-service adoption agency that models and promotes an ethical, child-centered, anti-racist approach to adoption.

Beth Hall, who enjoyed a first career in the fields of molecular genetics and chemistry after receiving her BA from Reed College, is recognized as a national thought leader on the intersection of race and adoption. In 2010 she received the Outstanding Practitioner in Adoption Award from the Adoption Initiative at St. John’s University. She currently serves as a contributing author and member of the content committee of the National Training and Development Curriculum for Adoptive and Foster Parents, and is an Advisory Board Member for the MPower (formerly On Your Feet) Foundation, dedicated to supporting birth mothers of adopted children and adoptive families. She previously served on President Clinton’s Race One America Conversation. Under her leadership, Pact has been awarded four federal grants from the Department of Children, Youth & Families/Children’s Bureau and been selected by the Brookings Institution as one of 25 exemplary, high-performing non-profits in the US.

Beth Hall is the co-author, with Gail Steinberg, of the seminal book Inside Transracial Adoption (Perspectives Press, 2000, 2nd edition, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2013), as well as numerous articles and book chapters on adoption and race. She regularly lectures, leads workshops, and offers consultations not only to families but to authors, researchers, and filmmakers seeking insight on adoption and race.

Speaking Engagements

Beth Hall is available to deliver keynote addresses, workshops or presentations to groups of any size. Below are some topics/keynotes/workshops that she typically presents, but she can also address prepare a customized presentation upon request.

  • Inside Transracial Adoption: Supporting children while they make sense of race can feel overwhelming, particularly for white parents. As young people experience both overt and subtle racism, how can adults learn to effectively support adoptees of color? How do white children in transracial families understand race? How do we have courageous conversations about racism that feel empowering rather than depressing? Learn from an experienced adoptive parent and professional whose presentation is filled with real-life stories and practical strategies.
  • Talking With (Not To) Your Adopted/Foster Child: This workshop is designed to assist parents in acknowledging the issues common to adoptive and foster families. The tone is empowering and upbeat. The strengths of being an adoptive or foster family will be discussed in terms of the closeness and connected-ness that results from acknowledging the losses that bring our families together. Practical ways to discuss adoption with children will be demonstrated.
  • Interracial Families, Interwoven Cultures: Working with Pre-Adoptive or Foster Parents Who Are Considering or Already Parenting Children of Different Races: This workshop focuses on evaluation and assessment issues for professionals workings with families considering transracial adoption. Learn what works and what doesn’t for Black, Latinx, Asian and multiracial children in need of adoptive families and how to evaluate what is sometimes misleading information from clients. Materials have been federally approved for post-MEPA training.
  • Attachment: A Lifelong Journey to Promote Connection: Making a transition from one family to another makes attachment a sensitive issue throughout life. Some symptoms of attachment sensitivity in kids are being bossy and controlling, lying, resisting authority, low self-esteem, poor impulse control, and lack of trust. This workshop will describe a continuum of attachment issues and assist participants in understanding strategies that promote secure attachment for children from infancy through adulthood.
  • Open Foster and Adoptive Placements: Recognizing that there are no cookie-cutter approaches to building a positive triad relationship, this workshop will address the following questions and more: How can birth family members remain connected to an adopted or foster child without confusing the child? How can complex relationships between adoptive and birth parents be managed for the support of a child? What’s reasonable and how do decisions affect the child? When should a child meet his/her birth family?
  • Finding the Balance: Attachment, Baggage, Behavior & Discipline: Finding the balance between teaching children how to behave in appropriate ways both at home and in public and giving them voice to express their feelings about adoption, race and family life presents real challenges for many of us as we seek to be both confidante and disciplinarian. Join Beth for an exploration of research-based insight and practical guidance for adoptive parents in ways that promote ongoing connection between parent and child, while giving parents clarity about how to set appropriate boundaries and guidelines for their children.

To get a flavor of Beth’s presentation style and approach to adoption and race, check out some film clips of her speaking on various topics:

Beth Hall is available to speak nationally. For locations outside the Bay Area, the sponsor is expected to provide transportation (including a pre-paid airline ticket), accommodations, and a per-diem payment on the day of the event. For smaller grassroots organizations, a reduced speaker’s honorarium may be available.

You are welcome to inquire if you are interested in having Beth as a speaker. Please contact beth@pactadopt.org

Julie Kiani

Julie Kiani

Data Services Director

Julie Kiani (she/her) is an adoptive parent in a multiracial family (Middle Eastern, African American and white) and a long-time member of the Pact community. Her appreciation for all Pact has to offer led Julie to a professional relationship with Pact; she now heads data services with a primary focus on Salesforce implementation. Julie’s background combines data, engineering and marketing.  She holds a Master’s degree from University of the Pacific’s School of Engineering in Data and Analytics, and a Bachelor’s from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in Mechanical Engineering. Email: julie@pactadopt.org

Susan Dusza Guerra Leksander

Susan Dusza Guerra Leksander

Agency & Clinical Director, First/Birth Family Advocate

Susan Dusza Guerra Leksander (she/her), LMFT, is a Latina first mother, transracial domestic adoptee, and licensed psychotherapist who specializes in the adoption and foster care triads, providing treatment and consultations since 2009. When Pact became a licensed full-service adoption agency in 2017, Susan was appointed its founding Agency & Clinical Director, launching Pact’s Center for Race and Adoption Focused Therapy in 2021. She is on the ongoing complex journey of reunion with her first families and the daughter she placed for adoption. Email: susan@pactadopt.org

Deanna Matthews

Deanna Matthews

Pact Family Camp Director

Deanna Matthews (she/her) is a multiracial (African American/white) single parent who has found great commonality between her own experience of racial ambiguity and that of many adoptees of color. She brings that understanding to all her work at Pact, as well as a passion for educating adults and supporting children in defining their identity in positive ways in a racialized world. She has been involved in organizing Pact Family Camp since 2009, and became Camp Director in 2011. Email: deanna@pactadopt.org

Raquel Vivanco

Raquel Vivanco

Event & Parent Program Manager

Raquel Vivanco (she/her) is the adoptive mother to two Latin@ persons. She has been an active member of the Pact community for over ten years. As a staff member, she brings to Pact her experience with nonprofit organizations and human resources, as well as her dedication to ethical adoption reform. Email: raquel@pactadopt.org

Katie Wynen

Katie Wynen

Adoption Social Worker, LGBTQ Advocate

Katie Wynen (she/her), MSW, is a transracial, international Colombian adoptee, with a Masters in Social Work. Katie has worked with members of the adoption triad since 2006. She studied under Dr. Joyce Maguire Pavao in Boston before moving to Oakland and joining the Pact staff in 2012. Katie works in adoption placement, leads the adult adoptee support groups, and provides adoption education nationwide. Katie is an Angels in Adoption 2019 Recipient from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. Email: katie@pactadopt.org

To meet additional Pact team members, see individual program pages.

Board of Directors

Christina Feliciana, LCSW

Christina Feliciana, LCSW

Chair

Christina (she/her) has been teaching in the School of Social Welfare at UC Berkeley since 2007. She teaches courses on child welfare practice and school social work; she was previously employed as a child welfare worker and school social worker. She coordinates the Title IV-E program, a curriculum that prepares social workers to work in children’s protective services. Christina also consults with SOAR for Youth, a foster youth educational advocacy program. Christina and her spouse are foster-adopt parents of two daughters who are sisters by both birth and adoption. They have contact with the girls’ first mother and feel blessed to be raising the sisters together.

Ojas Rege

Ojas Rege

Vice Chair

Ojas (he/him) and his wife Jill (an interracial couple—he is East Indian-Canadian and she is white) have adopted two African-American children, who are brothers by birth and adoption, and also have an older son born to them. Ojas is an advisor to Digital Trust Networks, a high-tech startup.

Francois Choquette

Francois Choquette

Treasurer

Francois (he/him) is a white transracial parent of two African American boys (one adopted through Pact) and one daughter born to him and his partner, Marie-Claude. A Fellow of the US and Canadian Institute of Actuaries, he was previously Executive Vice President of Aon Consulting before his retirement.

Nisha Jalmi Grayson, MS

Nisha Jalmi Grayson, MS

Secretary

Nisha (she/her) is an international transracial adoptee from Goa, India and the subject of YOU FOLLOW: A Search for One’s Past, a documentary about her attempts to reunite with her birth mother. Nisha has shared her experiences at many national adoption conferences, including Pact Family Camp West, and in her blog The Adoptee Diary. She co-facilitates workshops, support groups, and publishes articles for Pact and other adoption nonprofits. Nisha currently works in Berkeley as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor.

Marcia Bedford

Marcia Bedford

Marcia (she/her) and her husband Ron are an African American couple who adopted their son through foster care. Marcia has worked in private schools for many years and is currently serving as Director of Student Life at Julia Morgan School for Girls in Oakland, CA. Marcia brings her passion for children and her understanding of their needs to her work for Pact.

Alan Gellman

Alan Gellman

Alan (he/him) and his wife Arlene are parents to two children, their son who is born to them, and their multiracial daughter (Native American, African American, East Indian, white) whom they adopted transracially. Alan is an executive coach and former chief marketing officer at several companies, large and small. His vision and experience in business management, branding and marketing helps Pact expand its reach and impact.

Winslow Holmes

Winslow Holmes

Winslow (he/him) is part of an interracial parenting couple (he is British of African descent, his partner is white) who adopted their son through Pact. He is a software engineer and technology manager.

Malaika Parker

Malaika Parker

Malaika (she/her) and her husband Saul are Black parents of four children, two who joined their family via same-race adoption and two born to them. Malaika served as the founding director of Pact’s Adoptive Parents of Color Collaborative and now serves as Executive Director of the Black Organizing Project; her long career in non-profits includes working on issues of racial justice in farming, policing and education. She holds a Master’s degree in Social Justice and Equity in Education. Malaika is passionate about providing resources and community for adoptive families headed by people of color.

Jake Plut

Jake Plut

Jake (he/him) is a transracial adult adoptee from California, a graduate of New York University with degrees in Music and Black Cultural Studies. He currently works as a freelance producer and songwriter as well as with the community organization US4US in his native San Francisco. He has been a member of the Pact community since he was three years old and is excited to serve on the Board and as a youth mentor and counselor at Pact Camp and in the year-round youth program.

Michael Thompson

Michael Thompson

Michael (he/him) and his wife Michele are an interracial couple (he is African American, she is white) who adopted their multiracial daughter through Pact, and have remained involved in the Pact community ever since. He is an instructor at Chabot College, where he teaches African American and U.S. History. He is a member of the Umoja learning community for African American students, leads faculty inquiry groups exploring equity issues, and has served as an advisor to formerly incarcerated students.

Delrisha White

Delrisha White

Delrisha (she/her) holds a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies with a minor in Global Studies from Bennett College in Greensboro, NC. In 2019, she earned her master’s in Education Policy & Management at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and was awarded the Intellectual Contribution award. Del is a journalist, educator and social impact leader who confronts educational inequity and racial and socioeconomic injustice through education and storytelling. Her life’s work is a culmination of her experience growing up in a family impacted by poverty, as well as the criminal justice and child welfare systems.

Jeffrey Wilk

Jeffrey Wilk

Jeffrey (he/him) is the Principal Artistic Director at Tencue , a live communications agency. He and his life partner, Kristin, have two children (now young adults), one of whom joined the family through foster-adoption. They believe in giving back to the community by supporting arts and education programs locally and globally.   Pact has been incredibly important to the growth of their family and they are committed to supporting the organization and helping it grow in return.

Gail Steinberg

Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director Emeritus

Gail (she/her), who co-founded Pact in 1991 and retired in 2004, is the adoptive mother of four grown daughters and sons. Her multiracial family has Korean/Native American, African American and white members. She has six grandchildren. Gail specializes in the impossible: building zero-budget dreams into thriving non-profits, connecting people who would not have come together any other way. Gail has amazing vision, passion, and drive; her contributions to the early years of Pact cannot be overstated. More recently she has launched an art support organization with members across the globe, is a practicing encaustic artist, and has written a book on feeling more alive, seeking joy, loving, belonging, and connecting while aging.