Board of Directors
Minyoung Kim is a strong advocate for post-adoption services for Korean adoptees. Her volunteer experience began when she was in college at an adoption agency, working as a translator to help adoptees communicate with their birth families. During this time, Minyoung discovered adoptees’ desire to learn about Korea and their personal origins, which is what led her to start Me & Korea. Under Minyoung’s leadership, Me & Korea has grown to serve many people in the Korean adoption community through tours to Korea, academic conferences with scholars who research the origins of international adoption, family cultural programs through the School for Korean Adoptees and Families (SKAF), and ongoing sponsorship of Korean children who live at Angels’ Haven Orphanage in Seoul.
In addition to her leadership growing Me & Korea into an organization that systematically supports Korean adoptees, Minyoung has also personally investigated many adoptee cases and has reunited many adoptees with their family members in Korea. She does this work as someone with decades of personal experience interacting with Korean adoptees of all ages, and also as someone who respects the deeply personal and sensitive circumstances of why a child from Korea would have been adopted to a family in another country.
Minyoung oversees the vision and implementation of Me & Korea’s programs and services, and her decades of compassionate work connecting Korean adoptees to the Korean people and culture have earned her respect from thousands of people around the world who are involved in the Korean adoption community. She currently lives with her family in San Ramon, California. She earned her Master’s degree in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.
Jill Pfenning was born in Daegu, Korea, in the 1970s and adopted to Vermont where she grew up with an older sister, who is also adopted from Korea. She currently lives in California and works as in-house counsel to high-growth companies. As a young adult, Jill returned to Korea in 1999 to teach English at a girls' vocational high school in Gyeongju through the Fulbright Program in Korea. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and a Juris Doctorate degree from Vermont Law School. Before she became an attorney, Jill served as a high school mathematics teacher in public and private schools in New York City and Vermont. Her involvement with Me & Korea began in 2013 as a participant in the first Mosaic Tour. Since then, Jill has given back to the Korean adoptee community by serving as the organizational foundation of Me & Korea, working with her fellow founding board members to take Me & Korea from an idea into one of the most respected nonprofit organizations that serves Korean adoptees. Jill has also volunteered to staff many of the Mosaic and Mosaic Hapa Tours, which have provided hundreds of adult adoptees from Korea an invaluable opportunity to connect with country of their birth..
Mary O'Donnell was found on the streets of Seongnam, Korea, in the 1970s and adopted as a toddler to the United States. She grew up in Michigan with an older brother who was adopted domestically and now lives in a suburb of Detroit, Michigan. Mary’s service to the Korean adoptee community began in 2013, when she was selected as a participant for the first Mosaic Tour and able to experience Korea for the first time through the eyes of an adoptee. Since then, Mary has offered her unique perspective as both a licensed foster parent and adoptive parent to serve as a moderator during conferences/panels around the United States and Korea that focus on the history and issues surrounding adoption. Her skills as a compassionate organizer with a thoughtful, holistic approach have provided safe environments for adult Korean adoptees, Korean birth families, and others in the adoption network to openly share their stories in support of others, while receiving support themselves. Mary has also organized and participated in many adult adoptee events around the United States to bring these communities closer together based on their shared experiences. She has served as staff for the Mosaic and Mosaic Hapa Tours, and keeps the Korean adoption community up to date about Me & Korea’s programs and homeland tours that serve adult Korean adoptees.
Kyutaeg Oh was born in Uisong, Korea, and now lives in San Ramon, California, with his wife, Minyoung, and their two daughters. He works as a semiconductor design engineer for a prominent technology company in Silicon Valley. Kyutaeg first encountered adopted Korean children in 1999 as a volunteer for Korean Culture School in Washington, D.C. Since then, Kyutaeg has volunteered his free time to help Korean adoptees of all ages and was a founding board member of Me & Korea in 2013. As a bilingual volunteer, Kyutaeg has helped hundreds of adult adoptees research their personal histories in Korea, and has even helped dozens of adoptees reunite with their birth families. Kyutaeg has also staffed many Mosaic Tours and has provided endless love and support to his many friends within the Korean adoptee community by connecting them to Korea and Korean people. As a board member, Kyutaeg also manages day-to-day operations and enjoys creating cultural programs for young Korean adoptees and their parents at the School for Korean Adoptees & Families (SKAF).
Stephen Hill was born in Seoul, Korea, and was adopted to the United States when he was 4 months old. He primarily grew up in Indiana along with his older brother and sister, both of whom were also adopted from Korea. Stephen was a participant in the 2015 Mosaic Tour and is grateful for the opportunity Me & Korea provided so he could reunite with his Korean biological family. Stephen graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a degree in Biomedical Engineering but now lives in Washington, D.C., and works for a prominent political organization. Stephen maintains a strong interest in entrepreneurship and social causes and volunteers for nonprofit organizations that have a mission to promote diversity in business and politics. As a board member of Me & Korea, Stephen oversees fundraising to make sure the organization can continue its important programs that support Korean adoptees.
Estelle Cooke-Sampson, born Hyon Sook Kang, was adopted at age 6 from Korea and has lived in Washington, D.C. almost all of her life. She received her Bachelor’s of Science degree from Union College in Schenectady, New York, and then attended Georgetown Medical School. She is the Medical Director of the Women's Imaging Center of Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C., and has participated as a medical provider in humanitarian missions every year for over 14 years in various countries including the U.S., Jamaica, Belize, South Africa, North Sudan, and Ethiopia. Estelle has served with the D.C. National Guard for over 30 years, retiring with the rank of Brigadier General. For over 14 years she served as the State Surgeon in the D.C. National Guard. Estelle’s personal interests include working with and assisting mixed-race adoptees from Korea in search of birth families and visiting their meaningful places in Korea. She has volunteered to staff several of the Mosaic Tours. Estelle is proud and honored to serve Me & Korea. Estelle has two daughters who also live in Washington, D.C.
Stephen was the fourth of seven children adopted by Robert and Dorothy Thatcher of Somerville, New Jersey, and was the second of three children adopted from Holt Korea in 1959. Stephen has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Evansville, and a Master’s degree from Troy State University. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant (ROTC) in the United States Air Force. His government career spanned living in Miami, Washington D.C., Republic of Philippines, Bangkok, Dhahran, and Tokyo. Stephen also spent three years on two separate occasions as a military officer and Customs & Border Protection official in Daegu, Osan Air Base, and Busan, Korea. Stephen has been involved in the adoptee community as a former executive officer within the Washington, D.C. Chapter of the "Also Known As" (AKA) adoptee organization, and he has mentored younger adoptees as opportunities arise. Stephen recently retired with a combined 39 years of U.S. government service and currently resides in Seoul, Korea, with his wife Miri. Stephen and Miri have assisted with many Mosaic Tours and have helped guide adoptees visiting and living in Korea.
Eun-Young Kim is a volunteer for Me & Korea, having served as an interpreter for several Mosaic Hapa Tours. Eun-Young was born and raised in Korea and came to the United States 40 years ago. After receiving a Ph.D. in Anthropology at University of California, Berkeley, she taught Anthropology and Korean Language in Japan, and now works as a consultant and interpreter in the San Francisco Bay Area.