November ’20 Newsletter

Dear fellow alums,

What a wonderful virtual Mountain Day! We made the best of our unique circumstances and connected with over 30 alums from across the Northern California area on Zoom! Special thanks to Eleanor Chang ’78 for sharing these stunning photos from one of her visits to campus. 🍂It was such a joy to celebrate a virtual Mountain Day together. 

Left: Fall foliage on Mount Holyoke’s campus, photo credit: Eleanor Chang ‘78; Right: Alums gather virtually to celebrate Mountain Day.

As we continue virtual planning for the winter and beyond to 2021, please let us know what types of virtual events, programs, and resources may best support you at this time or any which you may wish to offer. 

  • What events or programming would you like to see? 
  • Have a talent you’d like to share? A group you want to start? An M&Cs gathering or any other virtual event you’d like to host? Let us know by emailing us or filling out this form.

Banner which reads, "November is National Adoption Awareness Month. We're honored to spotlight Pact, an Emeryville based non-profit adoption organization. Pact's mission is to serve adopted children of color by providing not only adoptive placement but lifelong education, support, and community adoptees and their families on matters of adoption and race."

This month, we’re thrilled to showcase the work of Pact – an Emeryville based non-profit organization whose mission is to serve adopted children of color and all of their families. We were honored to interview Katie Wynen ‘05 who works at Pact as an adoption social worker and LGBTQ+ advocate.

Check out the Spotlight interview below to learn more!

We’d love to showcase you and/or your organization as well! We’re still welcoming any recommendations of alums who have founded, work for, or volunteer at local Northern California organizations doing anti-racist work or fundraising and will incliude them in upcoming newsletters. Please send any recommendations to the Board at mountholyoke@gmail.com.

To hear the latest about our programming in-between our monthly newsletters, we encourage you to follow the Club on Facebook and Instagram. We also invite you to share resources, your virtual events, and more, directly in the Facebook Group.

Our very best wishes,

– The Board 

Spotlight on Katie Wynen ‘05 and Pact


Hey, Katie! Tell us a bit about yourself and your time at MHC.

I’m Katie (she.her), class of 2005. I am a Latinx/Colombian adoptee who was raised in Florida by white adoptive parents. I’ve lived in MA, CT and now CA. At MHC I was on the crew team, a writer for J-Show and a DJ for WMHC. I worked in the dining hall (yea! first year), at Tailgate and for student programs. I have my masters in social work and teach fitness (Zumba, Spinning) on the side. 

You work for an adoption organization called Pact. Tell us about Pact’s mission and your role.

I’ve been at Pact since May 2013 and I am the adoption social worker and LGBTQ advocate. Pact is a non-profit organization whose mission is to serve adopted children of color and all of their families. My main role is the placement program where I predominately support adoptive parents of color, but I also get to lead webinars, support groups and other trainings.

Could you highlight a few services offered by Pact and their respective impact?

We have placement, education, support and community programs, because adoption is a lifelong journey. Our organization is also run by direct members of the adoption constellation so we come to this work personally and professionally.

In our adoption placement program we focus on supporting adoptive parents of color and this is huge, because the majority of adoption agencies, lawyers, facilitators, etc. cater to white adoptive parents. For many adoptive parents of color they have to enter a program run by white people and featuring only white families; they are not represented. At Pact we support families of color and our staff is majority BIPOC. When families of color contact us, they are represented. They see other families that look like them, a staff that looks like them and they are the majority in our placement program. For expectant parents considering adoption, they have a real choice of finding a family that looks like them, will look like their child, will understand the importance of race and racial identity. I’ve seen how powerful this is for the families of color (birth and adoptive) who have worked with Pact. Having support groups for adopted tweens/teens of color, adult adoptees of color and adoptive parents of color has been really impactful for these communities to have a safe space with other people with similar experiences. Our groups are local and national.

Our education, support and community programs are open to any adoptive or foster family parenting a child of color. 

What does Adoption Awareness Month mean to you, and your team at Pact?

National Adoption Awareness Month was established to celebrate families that have grown through adoption and to bring attention to the more than 125,000 children waiting in foster care. Over the last several years there has been a push from adult adoptees (of all races) to shed truth on the adoption experience. To have people question/think about why we celebrate the trauma and lifelong impact of family separation. It even has the tag of #FlipTheScript, because the script is dictated by adoptive parents and other adoption professionals and it needs to be the voices of adoptees and first/birth families who are the most impacted by adoption. As an adoptee and adoption professional I am all about #FlipTheScript and I use my social media throughout the month to highlight all parts of the adoption journey. 

For Pact we like to say that we are trying to be interrupters, so Pact fully supports and believes the month should focus primarily on the voices of lived experience from adult adoptees and first/birth parents. We do support bringing awareness to the children in foster care because homes are needed, but we also focus on the adoptee and first/birth parents who bring awareness to the private adoption industry and how it’s problematic.

Adult Adoptees of Color Group

How can alums support PACT’s mission or get involved?

Spread the word! If someone you know is pregnant, we offer full options counseling (parenting, abortion, adoption). If you know a BIPOC person/family interested in adoption, tell them about us. If you are or know an adoptee of color, adoptive parent of color or first/birth parent we have support groups (all on Zoom).

Donate! As a non-profit, every dollar helps! You can donate to our general fund, or a specific program.

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your work with us!

Thanks to the Club for reaching out to highlight alums working with/for BIPOC communities/individuals. Adoption is a business that likes to focus on cis, het, white and wealthy people. Pact spent many years to reconfigure their adoption placement program to support, exclusively, adoptive parents of color. I’m honored to work for an organization that focuses on the underserved and underrepresented members of the adoption constellation. I get to watch expectant parents of color get real options counseling which includes not having to do an adoption placement and figuring out that they can, and are entitled to parenting their child. I get to lead the support group for adult adoptees of color, like me, who are navigating the lifelong journey of adoption. It is so powerful to watch the healing and support in the group. I could talk about Pact for hours, so thanks for highlighting just a little bit of the work we do.  

To learn more about Pact and get involved:

 

October ’20 Newsletter

Dear fellow alums,

It’s been wonderful connecting with so many of you over the last month. In September, we gathered via Zoom to Get Out The Vote with postcard writing and political discussion, enjoyed a lively trivia night hosted by the fabulous Katie Wynen ‘04 👏, and for the inaugural meeting of our NorCal Book Club focused on books by BIPOC writers. If you missed any of these chances to be in community with other local alums, don’t worry–October brings more chances to meet up online! 

Check out our slate of upcoming events below. Also: keep your eyes peeled for Mountain Day 2020 festivities. ⛰🍦 Although COVID-19 will keep us from meeting in person for ice cream, we’ll have a chance to celebrate together virtually. As soon as we hear from the College, we’ll be in touch! Looking forward to “seeing” you at an upcoming event.

Our very best wishes,

The Board 

 

Club updates:

How to update your contact information with the Alum Association

Make sure your contact information is up-to-date with the Alum Association! That way you can get the most out up-to-date information, event invites, and other communication from the College and the Club, as well as so other alums can reach you! Need help? Check out our guide.


LinkedIn group

Connect with our growing professional network on LinkedIn. We’ve created a space to job search, network, seek professional advice, and connect with alums of all ages located in Northern California. If you’re new to the region, about to relocate, or have been here your whole career, we welcome you! 

Anti-racism call to action results

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed by an officer of the Minneapolis Police Department. Before and after Mr. Floyd’s murder, many Black people have been killed by police and others empowered by white supremacy. This event spurred uprisings across the country, demanding the abolition of policing and the deconstruction of other forms of structural racism. As part of this reckoning, in July 2020, the board of MHC NorCal chose to put out a survey to our membership, asking what we can and should do to meet this moment and practice anti-racism in our organization. This slide deck summarizes what we heard from you and outlines what actions we will take going forward. 


Please be aware that this is just the beginning. We board members have volunteered to serve you and the wider MHC NorCal community, but we recognize that our personal perspectives are limited. We welcome your participation to improve our efforts and to keep us accountable. 


Lifetime Membership 

This month, the NorCal Club welcomed its second Lifetime Member, Eleanor Chang ’78–who also happens to be a member of our Board and serves as our Alum Association Liaison. Eleanor has been passionate about supporting Mount Holyoke for over 40 years. She currently serves on the Alum Association’s Board as Director-at-Large for Global Initiatives. Previously, she has served on the College’s Board of Trustees as well as co-chaired the inaugural Asian Alum Symposium in Hong Kong. She was the Membership Chair of our Northern California Club, as well as a member of the SF Major Gifts Committee, the Alum Trustee & Awards Committee, the Asian Scholarship Nucleus Committee, and the Global Strategy Task Force. Eleanor is a retired banker and received her MBA from Carnegie-Mellon University.

 She notes, “I am happy to support the Club and all the enthusiastic and dedicated board members; I trust we will continue to bring innovative and quality programs to engage and connect alums in Northern CA.” If you’re friends with Eleanor on social media, you also know that she is a fabulous photographer and chronicler of daily life (especially during COVID), documenting adventures in cooking, baking, and the outdoors. Thank you, Eleanor, for your generous donation, and for your continued support of the Club! If any other alums would like to become a Lifetime Member, we’d love to have you.

September ’20 Newsletter

Dear fellow alums,

Our hearts go out to those alums affected by the wildfires raging across Northern California. Whether you needed to evacuate, or you prepared to, or you felt the effects of the smoke all over the Bay Area, we’re thinking of you and hoping that you and your families are staying safe during this scary and uncertain time.    


2020 Common Read, The 1619 Project

We encourage you to join us in reading the College’s 2020 selection for the Common Read, The 1619 Project. Nikole Hannah-Jones, staff writer at The New York Times Magazine and lead on The 1619 Project, will be this year’s Common Read Keynote, on September 7th at 3:00 pm Pacific Time. All members of the Mount Holyoke community are invited to join the address.

Alum Quarterly Online 

The Alum Association has published the Summer 2020 Quarterly issue online. To receive the magazine electronically, check out Class Notes, and stay in touch with fellow alums, we encourage you to update your contact info in the Alum Directory on the AA website. Keeping your email address current will ensure you receive the AQ as well as other correspondence from both the College and our NorCal Club.


Lifetime Membership 

We’d like to extend a heartfelt thanks to Boots Whitmer ‘70 for being our very first Lifetime Club Member! A former president of the NorCal Club, Boots is an avid traveler and hiker who enjoys both urban and wilderness hikes. While she does not currently actively practice law, she occasionally judges moot court competitions at local law schools, acts as an advisor to young attorneys, and keeps her license active. Thank you, Boots, for your generous donation, and for your continued support of the Club! If any other alums would like to become a Lifetime Member, we’d love to have you.


Continuing Anti-Racist Work 

At the end of August, President Stephens shared the College’s action plan to continue the work of becoming an anti-racist institution. The Board of Trustees has also developed its own complementary action plan in support of this goal. 

The NorCal Club is continuing to explore how to take anti-racist action in our community, on our Board, and within the Club. We will share the results of our Call to Anti-racist Action survey and our commitments moving forward in our October newsletter. We as alums must hold the College, the Club, and ourselves accountable to these outlined actions.

We’re still welcoming any recommendations of alums who have founded, work for, or volunteer at local Northern California organizations doing anti-racist work or fundraising and will include them in upcoming newsletters and social media features. Please send any recommendations to the Board at mountholyoke@gmail.com.    

Our very best wishes,

The Board

August ’20 Newsletter

Dear fellow alums,

A warm welcome to our recent alums who have recently moved to the Northern California area. We’re so glad you’re here and look forward to seeing you at an upcoming event! 

As we turn the calendar into our new fiscal year, which started July 1, we encourage you to contribute to the Club by paying your annual, tax-deductible dues, via our Eventbrite: MHC Club of Northern CA Membership Dues. Ordinarily, Club dues and donations help the Club provide refreshments at a variety of events, cover costs in excess of what we charge for paid events, offset the costs of care packages for Bay Area first-year students, as well as allow the Club to offer discounted prices for those who otherwise would not be able to attend due to lack of funds. 

Obviously, this year is off to a very different start since we are currently not able to hold in-person events — but your dues payment still helps us keep our all-volunteer led Club afloat and will allow us to continue to host an incredible and diverse slate of events this year as well as invest money in local organizations and contribute to student groups on campus. If you would prefer to pay by check, please email us. Thank you for your continued support and generosity!

Get Out The Vote this fall with the NorCal Club! MomsRising is making it easy (and completely free!) for all of us to GOTV for the 2020 election. Sign up now to write 10 or more postcards to registered voters who haven’t always voted on Election Day in the past. In the next month, MomsRising will send you a packet of pre-addressed, pre-stamped postcards along with some instructions. All you’ll need to do is write a short note of encouragement and send the cards directly to voters ahead of the November 3rd election. 

Once we’ve all received our packets of postcards and started writing them on our own, we’ll meet Saturday, September 12 via Zoom (see event details below) for postcard writing and political discussion. We hope you’ll join us! And remember, if you can’t make it to the event, you can still send out the postcards. 

We’re still welcoming any recommendations of alums who have founded, work for, or volunteer at local Bay Area organizations doing anti-racist work or fundraising and will include them in upcoming newsletters and social media features. Please send any recommendations to the Board at mountholyoke@gmail.com.   

To hear the latest about our programming in-between our monthly newsletters, we encourage you to follow the Club on Facebook and Instagram. We also encourage you to share resources, your virtual events, and more, directly in the Facebook Group.

Our very best wishes,
The Board