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tv   Public Affairs Events  CSPAN  November 23, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm EST

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long-term look like? five years from now, what does the crunchbase product look like? what is on offer? jager: if you think about every company being in crunchbase at that point, we are focused on having companies care more and more about what their profile looks like. we are only going to have that community aspect, but allowing companies to go and put on applications, parts of crunchbase that allow users to access different parts. like imagine if there was a press release section that a company was controlling, or an rfp section that only certain types of companies can have access to. those are ways companies connect with other companies, and you need to have a lot of users using their stuff before you can roll features out because
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adoption become so critical. jonathan: one question that i got that i would love to hear the answer to, when are y'all going to do mobile apps? jager: three weeks ago we launched our ios app, so if you have not tried out our mobile ios app -- that's a great question, thank you. a lot of people don't know. we did launch it. that shows we continue to iterate on the free stuff. it is available for everyone. just download it. we have a new version where you will be able to do all sorts of cool stuff. crunchbase pro, we will probably have a mobile version of that in the next few months. jonathan: crunchbase tracks a lot of companies, almost every company that raises money. when his crunchbase going to be on crunchbase again? jager: right now we are not in the position where we really need to raise.
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the best partners who can see our vision and get excited with us. when i meet those people and have those conversations, we might raise them, but there is no pressure. jonathan: among the features that you have on crunchbase am a there stuff about who has raised what, and -- crunchbase, there is a lot of stuff about who has raised what. not to be a killjoy, but i want to learn about companies that have shut down. we are in a bubble that is versed in. can you give me a list of companies that have closed in the last month? how much time do we have? only 30 seconds. we will wrap it up. jager: all right. there are a bunch of feature lists on crunchbase right now. one of the ones we thought about doing that we did not do was the list of companies that have closed in the last 90 days, and you would see some interesting stuff. jonathan: and on that debbie downer of a note, i think we are done. thank you for being here. [applause]
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>> thanks for dressing up, jager, by the way. like i said, we have an incredible lineup for you, and our next panel is an amazing reminder of that. before we get started, i want to remind you that we have alex right here, he goes by a-mac, so if you hear that, that's him. my duty is done. please welcome to the stage megan, alexander, and our moderator kate conder. ♪ >> i am really excited to be here today with megan and a-mac. we have a ton of stuff to get through through tech policy to open government to expanding access to technology. let's get right to it. i want to get to everything. megan, when you first started in government, you talked about it
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feeling like the early days of the internet when no one really knew whether it was going to be, but there was excitement about the potential. you said it felt like 1997, 1990 eight. we are sticking with that timeline. where is government at today? >> it's interesting. alex and i were talking about where we worked all the way back in 2008 as an industry and the government itself. the cto office, our team, our job is to create data, innovation, and technology on behalf of the people. we are working on tech policy, working on modernizing government. you see things like united states digital service. also, how do we solve harder problems? we are working on all those pieces, but what has been really exciting is that neither of us had planned to go to government until they came and collected us.
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it is an honor to do this job. i really wanted to come and encourage people to come and enjoy. it is really the beginning of digital government. we were in south africa for the open government partnership, which is something the president started with seven countries a bunch of years ago, and now it is 70 countries. we have a digital tech track. people are sharing codes. u.k., kenya, chile, others are starting to move into this space with service delivery and date of the finance and a data driven government, and the quality of
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what we can use with incredible governmental budget and access is really going to be realized, and it does feel like that 1997, 1998 time around here, maybe 1996, where it feels really early and we are really behind, but we are on that path, and we've got to ipo this thing and get what the american people really deserve. >> there is still a lot of work to be done when it comes to bringing technology in the government. you guys have 3.5, four months left. a-mac, what are some of the projects you are finishing before you leave government? >> it is not just government projects, but the things we has the american people are trying to get done, making sure we are tackling inequality, making sure we are working on longer-range things like artificial intelligence jury of all of it is stuff that we are rushing to get done. -- artificial intelligence. all of it is stuff that we are rushing to get done. we are now in the implementation phase. the federal source code policy is one where we really need help with the audience, to make sure that the pilot program we have in terms of open sourcing more federally funded software is
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successful as we do that pilot program in the next three years. kate: are there projects that are going to be less than finished for the next administration to take and move forward? megan: that is the history of our country, the handouts. the use of technology and tech innovation is at the core of -- i mean, president washington started the army corps of engineers before the country was founded. i was in boston, we were at john and abigail adams' house. he started the surgeon general. there is so much of a long history with fdr, president obama gets the internet and has been pursuing an extraordinary job of pulling in what we call teach you -- tq, like iq and eq. tech skills area -- tech skills. the presidential innovation skills, entrepreneurs, a whole set of things. another one of my favorite things going on is the social security administration doing coding boot camps with the team. we have 100 team -- 110 feds
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going through boot camps this fall. new employees are doing 12 weeks and current employees are doing four weeks. how do we upgrade everyone's skills? it's a work in progress. we have setup a love of amazing things that will grow. the head of the u.s. digital service was talking about how this navy seal-like team that works together with all the cio and other leadership teams in the agencies now feels like a real thing, and it scaling. how do we now set it up to live for a very long time?
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that's what we are up to it. alex: that brings up the three parts of the cto's job. part one is, as megan was saying, building the capacity within government and taking a love of the building blocks that are already there and trying to get them to scale. step two, the second part is attacking other policy issues that come up in government which are really important, and number three is making sure that we are capacity building throughout the nation to make sure that more and more people have the opportunities that this crowd really enjoys. megan: one of the things in the
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policy arena worth touching on is something that the president gave us as a resource, a new american resource. there are policy councils like the national security council, national economic council, credible colleagues week. we are in the office of science and technology policy. they added an extra policy convening called a tech policy task force. i am the vice chair, people like jason goldman, david gordon, the white house i.t. teams, the federal cio, all the tech folks are on this counsel with our colleagues. that lets us lead a technical driven conversation like open source, ai, other topics, so we can really drive the best tech quality we need and have engineers of that quality in the room as we decide policy. we want to make sure the policy is incurred by the best technical skills that we have, and we can reach out to our communities and really drive what the american people deserve. we have americans in our country, let's have been our government. kate: you have all these projects you are working on, open source, developing tech policy, international
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collaboration. we are in the middle of an election. are there any of these projects you worry about being undone by a future administration, or things that might not see it through to completion? megan: it is the fourth quarter. they say great things happen in the fourth quarter. we have the baton, so we are running as fast as we can. we are not involved in the election. these topics are so bipartisan, operating more effectively, higher-quality service delivery, the kinds of things that the u.s. digital service team is doing together within the veterans administration, for example. now it has gone from 45 minutes to 10 minutes to sign up for health care on a beautiful web app that is not impossible for people to use. congress has recently been doing work about expanding usps and others. we are confident that there is an executive order for the presidential innovation fellows that are doing amazing work on child welfare, the department of transportation, across the board. it is the beginning of digital government. that's just going to accelerate.
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we are pretty confident that whatever happens will continue. kate: that's great to hear. i wanted to ask you about the office of personnel management. 21 point 5 million records of government employees like yourselves were lost. -- 21 .5 million records of government employees like yourselves were lost. what did you learn? >> this is not unique to government. we have had more and more problems with cyber security across our government, and it am think that the president has been focused on, how do we get to the next level here? we rolled out a cyber security national action plan and take concrete steps. one of those was proposing in the 2017 budget to make up a huge funds to help the federal government get rid of some of the oldest legacy services and
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move them into more modern, more secure services. the thing i would stress, another thing we really need to do as a country is grow many more cyber security talks, because -- cyber security folks, because if i were to say, come join government, that would begin for government, but the private sector would not have this talent. we also need for that talent group to be more diverse. we find that the most diverse teams are the best teams. cyber security is one of those places where it is important to have diverse perspectives to move forward. kate: i think cyber security is one of those issues where technologists feel a little bit of distance with the government. they think the government is on the opposite side of the city -- on the opposite side of the table when it comes to encryption. president obama was at sxsw. he talked about finding a way to make a compromise on encryption and engineer a safe backdoor for
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encryptions that law enforcement could have access. this is an issue that technologists struggled with. obama said it was not something that he had the expertise to design. you have a little more engineering expertise. do you think it is possible to design secure encryption? alexander: the premise of the question that we are on opposite sides is a little bit wrong. the government and techies believe that encryption is one of these 21st century marbles. it's one of these things that gives a defender and asymmetric ability to be better than an attacker. that's great. it's something that even the folks who have spoken out about this leave in, the important foundational building blocks for what we do every day online. the law enforcement community has had many challenges with encryption, and as a government, our stance is that we don't take legislation is appropriate, but the issue of what are we doing
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to go after the bad guys, to make sure that we can still protect the country, that's something where there is no disagreement. that's something we all think is a good idea. i think that's how i would, the problem, as opposed to -- megan: one of the things that is great, the work that is going on with integrating the community. the defense department had put in silicon valley has a lot of national security and military leadership team, talents together with venture capital. there is so many topics in the security area. we need to keep advancing the skills and the quality and implementation skills across the whole federal government, across law enforcement, across our private sector. having meeting points like that, very important.
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he will probably talk more about that. the other area, i know you have some young women part of the let girls learn, the first ladies' let girls build initiative, and they have been working on hack-a-thon. nine out of 10 parents want coding taught at school. the more our kids are in active learning coding experiences in k-12 and a college as we adapt our college curriculums to have much more balanced computer science departments. and this is between for century literacy. we want to make sure that all americans are doing that. it will deeply affect -- this is 21st century literacy. we want to make sure all americans are doing that. it will deeply affect all. kate: do you think that collaboration between technology and government is the way to go, and true to that collaboration we will find a solution to law
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enforcement and encryption? megan: this idea of a tour of duty, generally, is really important. for example, if we were at a legal conference and we were talking to colleagues, and everyone was working in the industry of law, a very large number of this community would have been pro bono and the nonprofit sector. one of the things that is interesting to us -- like i said, we are in the early days of digital government, but to see how far behind we were and where we are coming from in terms of recent tech in the nonprofit sector, and state and local, as well as federal. and how did we get our community to have a tour of duty? we have law, science fellows who rotate in government. let's have the tech folks rotate. not to take everyone in and build inside, but more like the
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surgeon general. the surgeon general's not doing surgery when they are doing policy. we get the best people to rotate that. that's what we want to do. we think it will have the best effect on modern service delivery that we are starting to see with the quality of products coming from that approach, policy choices, having tech folks, economists, almost like a university deciding policy together, not leaving tech for implementation later, but as part of the architecture. this third area is capacity for the american people. also, solving hard problems together, having our community a part of the conversation as part of our career tracks. alexander: this is something the president has been great at, bringing strong tech people into government.
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i work with one of the experts on cyber security and encryption in general. it is the right way to think about these problems, with a real grounding in the technical realities. kate: you mentioned how important diversity is to this, bringing diverse people into government, bringing diverse students into tech said that they are ready for that path when the time comes. you are the first emailed cto. what can you tell our audience -- female cto. what can you tell about improving diversity and companies? megan: this is one of the great moon shots of the 21st century. how are we going to get all of our teams playing, all of our talent? the greatest asset of our company -- of our country is the people. also, a lot of times when people look at diversity and illusion, they are thinking almost a charity agenda.
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it's actually a deep prosperity -- not only is it right, but it's prosperity. we are seeing companies like intel and slack and others really step up and put it in the short list of their priority is to talk about it at every executive meeting, and really get out there. it comes from leadership deciding this is on the short list. of course everyone is on the -- everyone in the industry is pushing on diversity inclusion as something to do, but if you notice in your company that all of the leadership has outsourced into the diversity team, you are not going to get anywhere. those people are incredible, but they are your coach, and it is your job. one of the things we also know is that much of our challenge is unconscious and institutional bias. what are we going to do to change our system and also train on ourselves and build technology to help negate -- help mitigate? today if you watch children's
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television or fantasy television, 6:1 boys to girls on screen. how do we give our hollywood teammates the tools to see the biases may have? i was lucky to work with the team that built the macintosh with steve jobs. that team, if you look at those photos, seven men and for women. all the women in the photo -- all the men have speaking roles. the only recent one was joanna hoffman who won the golden globe in the jobs movie. she is from eastern europe. supertough. she is the only one that would really challenge steve and move things forward. her son that said, mom, did you really iron steve jobs' shirt? she said, jeremy, i have never ironed a shirt, except one for you when we were late for something. this unconscious biases all around us. -- bias is all around us. we need to fix the public record
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of the truth. we need to know that black women charge related the trajectories for john glenn in the apollo mission. we need help from hollywood, for media, for wikipedia records that are not correct. most people have not heard of hopper, but they have heard of edison or the white brothers -- wright brothers. kate: yeah, i think that's great. a-mac, you came to the government from twitter, where you championed free speech as a core value of the platform. now we have hillary clinton talking about twitter being a birthplace for the all-right -- alt-right movement.
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how do you balance free speech with encouraging diversity, with supporting minority candidates who might experience harassment as they enter the industry? alexander: that's a great question for the five minutes we have left. i can completely tackle its. i think it is one of the hardest things we have to deal with as an internet community. we watched many different voices online. we want to hear from lots of diversity points. there is this worry that the internet has become weaponize. it is definitely not something that, as a government, there is a lot for us to do, but it is a fascinating problem, one that we in the industry have to tackle and one that i have a ready dissolution on. there are lots of people doing good work in this space, but it is a really important thing for us to focus on.
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megan: the vice president has done an extraordinary amount of work on it's on us and culture change. he was on the oscar stage talking about how we need to change our culture. it is interesting to juxtapose that with the meeting today in the white house. that included everything from active learning to emotional intelligence. the work people are doing in this country to help our young people get the kind of tools they need to live 100 years. what are the tools they need to be adaptive learners, creative, etc. for the possibilities of the future that include getting along? these are the things we are very mindful of, and we are driving hard. a lot of times, the message we use is not unlike venture capital, scalp and scale. you are trying to look for
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people with solutions to problems. injustice and technology, we found that there are several jurisdictions who are already doing very interesting work with data. an example would be miami-dade. they went from 7000 people in prison to 4900. they closed the prison and changed how they were doing with substance abuse challenges, and opened a 12 bed unit in the
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hospital. our incredible police officers, they have a choice when they have someone in that state to take them to jail or take them to the emergency room. now they have an option. of 50,000 calls that 911 and the police are trained on, only 109 arrests. it requires all of these tech skills and policy skills. we now have different ways to do it, and we have a data-driven justice initiative. over 25% of the jurisdictions in the countries are now are dissipating a biweekly. learning conference call -- a biweekly learning conference call. whatever it is, whether it is diversity inclusion, justice, learning, we can use these new internet network messages to try
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to bring the different people to the table to solve things possible -- it's all things faster by scaling the stuff that is working. >> is great for the skills, of the folks in this room, who can be working on these social problems. we need more technologists to come in on the area they are passionate about. not everybody is passionate about criminal justice, but figuring out what your passion is and making a difference. kate: i'm glad you brought up open data. we are running short on time, but one of the data sets i think americans have really craved over the last two years has been data on police killings and uses of force. you mentioned the data justice initiative. i think when we are looking for this data right now, we are having to look to news outlets like the guardian, who are trying to count these incidences. can you explain some of the challenges you have had in releasing the data at the that are a level? -- federal level? megan: there are leadership, the leadership in dallas, in los angeles, already releasing use of force data, officer-involved shooting, sets of data. we have over 60 jurisdictions in the police data initiative. this is in the open data transparency initiative that
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goes with data-driven justice. it more of an enterprise internal data clustering. now the jurisdictions are committing to opening the data and engaging in the community, which will include tech people, as well as those in the community practice nationally. it started by fellows noticing the work going on in the country, and having police leadership meet each other, and realize they could do it as well. they can build a movement around transparency, and the kind of data sense that helps us see where the real challenges are. we hope to do that across every topic. of course, we have amazing weather and mapping data on our phones. we want to think about every
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agency as we release the opportunity project. opportunity., and great companies like redfin and zillow are stepping up. they have opportunity scores. it lets you know if you should live in a place. what are the jobs there? if a tech company could have solved it on our own, it would have. we need the policy in other places. boston just had an opioid hack a this weekend with medical tech, so we can dive in with our new message. kate: i would love to stay here and chat with you all day. but i wanted to ask you one more question. you have spoken about government as a second act, for all these amazing technologists who have entered the white house. what is the third act? what happens in january? alexander: we have no idea. we are heads down, completing we are heads down, completing this last focus on the fourth quarter. it is hard to think about anything else.
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i will take a breath, see my kids more. megan: there was a recent piece written about triathletes, and this idea of techies flowing into the commercial private sector, and then flow into the government, state, local, federal, the u.n. and then the nonprofit sector. how do we get people flowing into those areas? i have always loved working on technology that can improve people's lives, and technology that can reduce our impact on the planet. very in line with the president and climate work. i think anything we can do around accelerating all the sectors, as well as making sure that all people -- back to the missing history, when the film "hidden figures," comes out, taraji p. henson is playing the
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catherine johnson. she grew up in a poor community. had she known this woman existed, she might have been a scientist. let's make sure we are tapping , everything we can do to reach out to everyone to make them creators. that is the president's great hope. let's include all of us, and it changes the future for our country and the world. kate: thank you so much for being here. i think it is almost an impossible task, but you make me feel hopeful about government. thank you very much. [applause] megan: come work in the government. >> i hope that was as exciting for you guys as it was for me. i have had a crush on megan smith forever, but please don't tell her. i'm sure she can't hear me now. we will keep it moving along.
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over. a little bit please welcome to the stage megan rose dickey and morgan debaun from blavity. ♪ megan: thank you for joining us today. morgan: thanks for having me. megan: the stats are pretty harrowing. between 2014 and 2015, the 2014, the 2012 and amount of funding that went to black women was less than 1%. i'm excited to come talk to you today. i think you are a true unicorn, a blackech industry, female startup founder and ceo. tell me about the last time you try to come? morgan: great question.
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two years ago -- blavity is about two years old. when we first started blavity, i applied to get a scholarship to come to techcrunch disrupt. i was declined. i'm excited to be here for the first time. megan: yeah, give her a round of applause, for sure. let's talk about visibility. how important is it that you are up here as a black female startup founder? morgan: i think being visible is part of any startup life. you want to get press, you want people to know what you're working on. you want to be a leader and you want to be seen. i think for blavity specifically, part of what we do is educate and inform as a media company. it is important that people know who i am and what we are working on. thinking of diversity in general and startup diversity, a lot of my messages from people, they are inspired by seeing an all-black startup team, and me as a black female ceo.
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i think it means a lot. megan: definitely. i'm going to keep talking about how you are black for a little longer, then we will move on. you recently -- actually, you are on the verge of closing a pretty significant round. what was that experience like for you? morgan: it has been a journey. media is hot, and also not hot at the same time. when i first raised the fee, it was tough. i started, and i realized i was not emotionally ready to go through that mental process. putting myself out there every day, 20 meetings a week. we stopped and really made sure the metrics were aggressively overachieving for the stage we were in. we had almost one million monthly unique visitors with no funding. and so once we got to that stage, i spent a lot of time trying to find partners and investors that aligned with our mission.
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we brought some really great people on board, like media ventures, macro ventures. now, as we go into our speed round, they are looking for a lot more strategic partners. it has been an interesting run. i just finished 500 startups, the last batch. megan: what do you look for in investors, especially in terms of remaining authentic to the black community? morgan: i look for people who get it. right? you can tell the first five minutes of the conversation with an investor, if they understand and agree with the premise that blavity is on, which is that black people influence culture, that they are underrepresented in tech and consumer tech, and therefore we have a blue ocean opportunity to build something interesting for the audience that is incredibly influential. megan: you mentioned black people are underrepresented in the tech industry, across startups, and big tech
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companies, and even more so in venture capital. do you have any black investors? morgan: yeah, absolutely. charles king. absolutely. it is part of how we designed the team, and that includes advisors to make sure it is reflective of what we care about. megan: you previously mentioned that you do receive some criticism, even from the black community. what is that about? morgan: i think because we are so visible. blavity is a media company. it is our job to be creating content, and pushing things out there. we also have user-generated content, so a lot of the content is submitted from the user base. not everything that goes up is going to be completely aligned with me personally, or with other people in the communities. so there is conflict. there was an article that happened this summer, and we
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started trending on twitter, because people were upset -- megan: which article? morgan: it was about a netflix documentary. the guy behind it, a lot of people don't agree with his personal statements. so it was a tough day. megan: how do you handle that? morgan: i listened to what people were saying. we talked to the writer and ultimately decided to take the article down. i explained what the process was, and a little bit more about blavity as a whole. because we are a media company, and we have this content. be things that aren't always aligned. megan: was that the first time something like that happened, where you took down an article based on feedback from the community? morgan: it was. it was a tough editorial decision. megan: do you envision you might have to do things like that in the future? or what's your process? morgan: i'm sure we will.
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we make so much content every day. as we grow, we will continue to put out a ton of content every day. i think it is about having a strong editorial team, and having community guidelines about what is ok and not ok. if something is flagged, it is not a surprise. megan: blavity is about creating relevant content for black millennials. how do you determine what is relevant to them, or to us? to me? [laughter] morgan: that's a great question. i think it is really about listening to what people are saying, and enabling them to speak for themselves. for example, a lot of our writers are from all over the country. they are remote, they can write on any frequency. anyone can sign up for an account. that is something new we launched today, it enables anyone to create content and put it up on blavity. and so that helps us stay relevant. it's not just what happens in the newsroom this morning.
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we will move to the editorial team, doing a lot of high-quality pieces of content, that you can't necessarily just write off. you need research, and needs to be validated, etc. the majority of the content you, -- that you see will be from the users and will be relevant. megan: what percentage of your content is from full-time staffers versus user-generated? morgan: 40% is from the staff. megan: in terms of relevance, what have you found is relevant to black millennials? i wonder if you -- are you just trolling black twitter, or what have you found? morgan: well, black twitter is amazing. i think our content ranges from essays, a lot of thought pieces, reactions to what is going on, so if beyoncé comes out with an amazing album.
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megan: "lemonade," love it. morgan: all the way to serious topics. for example, one of our community members was a law student at harvard. they woke up one morning and saw tape on all the black law professors' faces. instead of reporting it to cnn or "the new york times," she actually decided to write an essay and put it on the website. that is how the story got out to the entire country. megan: maybe not a lot of the content, but if someone goes to, depending on the day or what is happening, they might see content about police shootings of unarmed black people. what is your editorial strategy around those really terrible events? morgan: we know those are rough days. usually, what we try to do is find people on the ground in that city who are participating
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as activists, protesters, and we try to give them the tools to tell the story from their perspective. we spend a lot of time working closely with different activists, making sure we are supporting and that we can help distribute messages that need to get out. megan: in the event that there is a video associated with a shooting, are a murder, do you run those videos? morgan: we used to. we stopped. we usually do some sort of trigger warning, and then link out to the video. i think as a community, the black community as a whole, i don't think it is helpful anymore. we know it it looks like. we don't need to see it again and again. megan: personally, i actively avoid those videos, because i feel i cannot emotionally handle that sort of thing.
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although blavity aims to reach black millennials, i know some people who are white who read this site. my boss, i won't mention his name right now, but he loves it. [laughter] what do you want white readers to get out of blavity? morgan: i think that blavity's mission is to portray and create opportunities for the diversity of the black diaspora, and energy and creativity to shine. and to put the power back into our hands to decide what we want to talk about, and how we want to talk about things. and so my hope with anyone that is engaging with the platform is that they are open to perhaps changing their perception of what the black world and black interests, and black news, and black creativity looks like. i get a lot of -- we have a daily email that goes out. megan: i love it. morgan: super funny. you should all sign up. it is automated.
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once you sign up, it is like, "hey, welcome," a typical startup thing, but most people don't know that it is automated, so they respond. i get a lot of white women, in like, kansas city, who say, am i allowed to be here? i have a black child or grandchild, or i'm a teacher. and i think it is fantastic. those are great emails to receive. i think it speaks to the power that black culture is mainstream culture, and it is accessible, and blavity is something for everyone. megan: i imagine that the white woman from tennessee, you told her that yes, you are allowed to read the site. morgan: absolutely. glad you are here. what's up? megan: you mentioned earlier that today you have actually launched a new version of blavity. what is so special about this version? morgan: blavity was originally on wordpress. what we have seen in the last
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few years is that the blavity likes, comments, and shares about four times more than the average user online. not only that, they like to talk to each other. the comment section is just ridiculous, like essays on essays. megan: is it productive? morgan: all productive. megan: ok, that is not my experience here. morgan: i think we have created this cool space for people to feel comfortable, and they feel like it is an invitation to have a discussion. we wanted to take that a step forward and build a platform that allows people to do that better, and also most of the users were on a mobile device. about 80% are visiting on a mobile web version of the site, so we needed to update it, so it was a cleaner and smarter version on mobile. and then also enabling people to create content themselves, and not have to go through the editorial team to get on the site. megan: right. you mentioned earlier that you felt like you needed to first
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launch a media platform before even really building your own platform. why is that? morgan: to be honest, i think it is true, i think i had to be exceptional before someone was going to take an investment perspective and say, they want to build this mega-platform social network media company hybrid, and i'm a non-technical ceo -- i have ceos and other -- i have a cto and other cofounders that are fantastic -- but we needed to build an audience that was incredibly engaged, in order to tell a compelling investment story. megan: got it. also, with what is happening in the next couple of months, you are launching afro tech.
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i will actually be there at the conference. what should i expect? how will it be different from this disrupt? morgan: part of blavity's strategy is events. a lot of companies have a strategy of creating conferences. last spring, we had a conference called empower her, which is for black millennial female influencers. we were thinking about how we want to build subculture communities, and the startup culture is growing quickly in the black community. there weren't any real moments where we could all come together. there are some fantastic startup ceos. there are some fantastic venture capitalists that are raising funds, black and latino funds. we wanted to create a space where they had a platform.
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we could leverage blavity's distribution. createof san francisco, this really cool experience. what you can expect is discussions, fireside chats about success, and tips people have used to get to where they are. we will not have a diversity in tech panels. megan: you will not. morgan: we will not. we will talk about tangible tips and tools to get to the next level. megan: ok, nice. we talked about this before. you are about to close a speed round. -- seed round. about how much money are you thinking you will get? morgan: the total amount raised will be over $1 million. we are super excited. that will be to fund more engineers to build the platform, and make more video content. megan: blavity has great video content. i have been really impressed with it. in terms of the future of blavity, you have launched this
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new version of the site, you are having these tech conferences, you are doing original video. what else do you envision for the company? morgan: i think as we grow, we are going to learn a lot more about how black millennials specifically engage online, and that will give us access to a lot of data. we are basing the company off of a premise that black people influence culture. if i can get a large enough population of people engaging with this content across the ecosystem, whether it is web, mobile, and real-life, we create interesting insights about what might be happening, what are the people talking about, what is the pulse of the culture, which will allow us to create a compelling marketing and content story in the future. megan: blavity reaches about 7 million millennials a month. what does that mean, exactly?
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where are you reaching them? on the website, social media? morgan: we reach about one million people on the website a month, unique visitors. then we have five instagram accounts, three twitter accounts, facebook page. those are unique engagements of users. the total reaches around 30,000,000-40,000,000, in any given month. the uniques are around 7 million people reached. megan: i know you have a good number of partnerships. i believe google is a partner? morgan: not google. [laughter] megan: who are your partners? morgan: we have content partners, like teen vogue. we have worked with those partnerships are usually around, what is an interesting demographic may not have access to blavity's content, may be looking for an authentic black
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voice for their content. we have worked with the white house on different things. megan: what have you done with the white house? morgan: whenever they are doing black specific announcements, we will make sure we have access to that, like when obama pardoned a bunch of prisoners this summer. we had original statements and thank-you letters from some of them released on the site. megan: got it. so, in your experience with blavity, what has been the hardest challenge? you've gone from bootstrap to now being funded by institutional investors. morgan: the hardest challenge is building in public. it is a very intimate company.
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we are building something that is a direct reflection of problems that i face, my team faces, that you face, my audience faces. there's a lot of emotions in everything we do and create. it's a beautiful thing, because that is why we have grown so quickly. i think it also is very difficult, because i open myself up to criticism, any time you release anything. people can come up with a very valid arguments. i think it has made us stronger and more resilient. it has personally made myself more resilient, and open to feedback. it is tough sometimes. megan: right. blavity covers a lot of heavy topics. how do you ensure, or foster the emotional stability of yourself, and your writers? morgan: i think self-care, and being really flexible. people can work from home if something is happening. you are welcome to work from home, just check in if you can't come to work today. personally, i have amazing
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cofounders. we all went to college together so i have known them for seven-plus years. some of them are in the crowd. if there are days where i can't deal with it today, i will call them, and we support each other that way. i think for any startup, you are going through this process, it is emotionally draining and difficult. you have to be proactive and take care of yourself. megan: well, i appreciate your work, and i'm looking forward to the afro tech conference in november. i will be there. thanks so much. morgan: thank you for having me. [applause] >> all right, who's having fun? [applause] you are. i appreciate the techcrunch staff. can we get a big round of applause? we worked through the weekend, which bloggers are not used to.
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they are the real heroes. a couple of reminders. follow me on twitter. you can also follow along with all the action on our snapchat and instagram. i think people forget we have that. it is just techcrunch, both of the accounts. #tcdisrupt. please welcome to the stage from twilio, and our moderator, frederic lardinois. frederic: it feels like we have done this before. >> deja vu. frederic: the last time we did this was at disrupt london last
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december. at the end of the conversation, we talked about how you might ipo at some point in the future, when the time is right. since then, you have. what led up to that? why was the time right at that point? >> it is interesting. for us, we always said going public was, job number one is to build a company that is capable of going public, and is worthy of going public. that means great customers, great product, predictability, dot your i's. building those things help you become a great company. that was step one. the other thing, we made a lot of decisions along the way that allowed us to have a lot of flexibility in when we decided to go out. that is one of the pieces of advice i have given to some
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entrepreneurs since, is that when you make decisions, for example about the kinds of investors you bring in, that you really want to maximize for future flexibility. for us, that meant not raising money at crazy valuations that did not seem like they were in line with historical norms, or raising money that could limit you down the line, if your execution is anything but perfect. we always optimized decision-making around what is going to give us the most future optionality. this is a case where it worked in our favor, because in years when companies have not wanted to go public, because reality had to catch up with previous fundraising rounds, we had the ability to go out. at this point, it is neat that we are able to do that.
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frederic: you were the first of the unicorn companies this year, at least, a silicon valley tech company, to ipo. that took a lot of -- why did you feel you with the right company at that time to go out? >> start by saying, why go public in the first place? it is not exclusively a matter of why go this year, but why go at all, and you can ask why this year versus the future. if you raise venture capital, you are making a commitment to investors that you will get them a return. frederic: did you have the option? jeff: we were always building the business for the long term. -- why to go public, you raise money and essentially,
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you have signed up to give your investors the return. we havend thing for us, always built in the company does notion that trust is the number one thing you sell as a car company. self -- cloud company. software is a service, but even more, the developer platform. you are saying to customers, trust us with your application. the best way to deliver on trust is to show that customers should trust you. i thought one of the great things you can do is to become a public company, for 2 reasons. businesses right there. everyone can see the details of your business and know you are committed to it, you are healthy , they know that public companies are run as tighter ships than private companies, as
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a general rule, because you have to be. that should engender trust with customers. timenk that going out at a when on a lot of companies are going out is a fine thing to do because that will accelerate trust with our customers and leadership in the market. frederic: did you get any pressure from investors that it was time to ipo? jeff: no, they were completely fantastic. it was completely the management's call. frederic: talk to me about the timing of this. it was june 23 that you ipo'd, the day before the brexit. did that have any influence on your decision-making? jeff: you look at the timing windows, also the windows of when you can go public, when investors are available. you cannot go public on the
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fourth of july. there are windows with the timing works out between the market and the company. when we looked at this window, we had not taken brexit into account. i'm not sure we didn't notice it -- i don't remember the details. but there was a moment where we basically take this timeline and ,ome he said -- somebody said oh shit, brexit vote is the day we are pricing.'t be you want things to be normal as possible when you ipo. we used the date of the pricing event. we priced the day before brexit. the whole time leading up to it we said it is not an issue. and then that i have desperate day of --and then the day of, oh my god, glad we moved it up a day, because the whole world
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turned upside down. who knew that was going to happen? frederic: worked out all right for you guys to the stock was up 90% the first day. what changed for you as a company now that you are public? how do you go about your business differently? jeff: nothing changes. if you let the existence of a visible stock price change anything about building the company, you are destined for problems. answer.the short our business is to control the --ngs we can control customers, product, revenue. frederic: the market does what the market to do, -- does what it is going to, but that is noise. let's say you are playing basketball -- i don't know why i picked basketball. running up and down the court,
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rapidly changing numbers -- you .ose interest in the game frederic: you're not looking at the stock price every day? jeff: no, because that is noise. over the long term, revenue, customers, products, those things are good value. in the short term, there is so much noise in that that has nothing to do with the company that you can't focus on it. you can't believe that when the stock price doubles, you are twice as good as when you are -- as you were yesterday. and when the stock price cuts in half, you are half as good. on the way up, if you drink the kool-aid and be like, you are amazing, the danger there is that eventually, everything has gravity. it will go down, too. you will believe suddenly that you are horrible, that you can't have people in the company thinking that way. that is too much of an emotional roller coaster. what you really have to
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acognize is that in short-term span of time, it is out of our control. >> hasn't changed anything for you personally? you have made a few dollars out of this at this point. you still own a large part of the company. mean, first of all, when you go public, you don't generally sell anything there. nothing has changed for me. again this is another pitfall , and if you look at the stock price and are constantly trying to ascertain the personal impact of that, again, you will go crazy at focus on the wrong things. -- and you will focus on the wrong things. again, that is not reality. you focus on business and you --us on what matters customers, revenue, employees, products. those are the things over the long period of time that may matter. that is the thing that will impact in the long term.
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frederic: all right. one thing i love about companies going public is they do have to disclose some numbers. jeff: 200 pages. frederic: i read through all of those. one number that stood out for me was how important a very small number of companies are for your revenue. like whatsapp alone accounted for about 17%. revenue in 2015. 10 companies alone make up about 30, 31% of your revenue. does that were you? -- does that worry you? you are dependent on a small number of customers. jeff: that has been very consistent through the years about 30% of revenue coming from , our top 10. and that has been consistent. whatsapp, we don't put them in that category as much. they're what we call a variable
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customer. their usage goes up and it can go down. the way we do business with whatsapp is very different than the way we do business with nearly every other customer. we have nearly 30,000 active customers, and nine who exhibit this variable behavior. we are focused on our team and the business and our employees. the base customers, they're the reason why we wake up in the morning. then we have this gravy over here, which is our variable customer base. frederic: very lucrative gravy. you must wants to get a few more of these big whales on your board. jeff: let's separate whales from gravy metaphors. of course we want big customers and happy customers and customers who have a lot of predictability to how they do business with us. we don't go out of our way to find more customers who are going to be large and unpredictable. that is the distinction that we make between the variable
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customers, wherein their usage of us essentially can vacillate pretty big, pretty large. and customers for whom we have a very large case i consistently distantly grows the business. we focus more on the latter. frederic: but still, you did release the enterprise plan earlier this month. you are going after the bigger enterprise customers, too, which is different from your regular model of selling directly to developers. jeff: well, i don't think it is. what we are already seeing in our customer base is that focus on developers pays off in april -- pays off in a wide variety of companies. developers are becoming influential in every kind of organization. every company is having to now build software to differentiate in the market.
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when is the last time you walked into a bank retail branch? no, the mobile app is the bank to you now. in every company. nike employs more software developers than shoe designers. goldman sachs employs more software developers than facebook. the stats keep going on where every company is becoming a software company. as they do, developers are so influential in those companies. the fact that we focus on developers allows us to get into these companies that 15 years ago might have had a waited top-down sales process. it is now being influenced by developers, bringing in a tool that they used to sell the job. what you still need to clear our some hurdles, and that is what it does is it make sure the developer in large bank wants to use the platform but there is a security or compliance team that
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says that we need these audits , single sign-on, all these different things in place. the enterprise allows the organization to send have all the things we need so that we can go into production and be successful at scale. frederic: are you increasing your enterprise sales force? are you trying to sell directly to the enterprise? jeff: we have had a sales force for a long time. it has helped customers to adopt twilio. what we're seeing is a developer will bring us in and oftentimes you need a salesperson to cause had. what is interesting is this isn't your typical enterprise like heavyweight and a lot of golf and shenanigans. it is not that kind of traditional enterprise sales process.
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it is a relatively light-touch, developer-led approach. when a developer builds the prototype without asking anybody on their own credit card and then they show it off internally saying let me play around with ideas and show you, the business says, wow, it is great, and puts it in front of customers, now you have some compliance or security conversations to have. let me walk in with purely sales collateral, put me up against five other competitors who are all going to do our key responses. the one where the developers have shown that it works and adds value. that is the lowest risk approach for the business at our sales team is there just to help the developer in many cases navigate their own organization and how they buy in order to get that prototype turned into a trial, turned into a full production rollout. frederic: we talked about enterprise.
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let's talk about the long tail as well, the other 30,000 paying users on the platform. how can you keep growing, how do you get more of those guys onto your platform? jeff: yeah, well we announced , back in may that we have over one million ilio,oper accounts on tw which is a metric we are really proud of. you also have to realize there are 20 million developers in the world. we have 5% of the world developers, and that number is growing. i think the number will be 25 million by 2018. you have a very large number of developers in the world, so we are focused on continuing our developer outreach, getting its -- getting into new communities and developer communities arranged geographically. and also investing into communities not around geography, but around languages, and getting deeper into the java community, deeper into the microsoft community, deeper into the ways that
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developers identify and learn from each other while they embed and become part of those communities. let those developers know about twilio. we obviously have a lot of headroom, because there is a lot of software developers in the world and that number is growing as more and more of the world is dependent on software. we are there to arm them. frederic: you talked about geography. what about the chinese market, which is exploding? you don't do a lot of business there right now. jeff: we don't do a lot of business in china, particularly on the domestic target. that is a really tough decision, because there is a lot of polls, there is a lot of reasons to say there is a large market, a lot of money to be made. at the same time, you look at what happens happened to uber going into china. amazon retail is not in china. 20-plus years after they have found at the company.
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and there is a reason for those things. it is very hard market. it is not like a lot of the markets where you can just run your playbook, hire locally, and figure out. it will be a huge time and investment sink that you may not see any return on. so being very deliberate in your enter china is to important. very few success stories of technology companies going to china that people point to. i think linkedin and evernote are the two that people can point to. that is it. there are not a lot of success stories. frederic: let's switch gears and talk about bots. i know you have an opinion on bots. developers wants to use them. what is your take on it? jeff: it is best summarized by
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something we made in our conference back in may which basically meant "bots! bots!" there's a lot been said about bots. we're not sure what the substances behind a lot of it. you can just say the word "bots" a lot and it gets people's attention. the killer app for messaging is not likely to be bots. i believe there is a much better killer app for messaging, and that is content. the early experience people have with bots is really an ivr-like experience, just over text. when we talk to customers, we find that is frustrating. ai is not quite there yet to make it not frustrating. we may get there. but content is an amazing app.
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frederic: when you say content? jeff: messaging is a great way to consume content. "the new york times" coverage of the olympics over sms was really cool. this was an app that was powered by twilio. "the new york times" covered the olympics over sms. another example here is purple, a company that is doing a daily news story initially about the election, pushed to you via messaging. what is needed about it is two things. one is it is very personal. the "times" coverage wasn't "the new york times," it was sam at the news desk, giving you his experience being in rio. that is a really cool experience, which is different from just a publication telling you stories. messaging is allowing you to feel like it is texting with a friend who happens to be at the olympics, rather than consuming coverage from a major publication. i think that intimacy is a very
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cool, natural part of the channel. another thing purple does a great job of is it is "choose your own adventure." they give you the headline of the day -- what happened to the election today? if you want to learn more, reply with a keyword. you can keep going further and further, or back out and say the story is of no interest to me, so never mind. that "choose your own adventure" style of content is really very engaging. i think that this coupled with a more corporate use cases -- that is the olympics, but imagine you sign up for a product, and the company sends you a message that says thank you for signing up for a product. if you want to learn more about this, reply with this. if you want to learn more about this feature, reply with that. you can self-select to an more -- the learning more about a product or service, that is an engaging form of content. it is an engaging way for brands to interact with a customer
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using content, but also in a "choose your own adventure" way where people self-select how they want that experience, and that is killer and available today. frederic: we're out of time. the next time we sit down, we will talk about what twilio did in the last 12 months to make bots better. [applause] >> news from the donald trump election team. political reporting that trump asselecting betsy devos education secretary. she is an advocate of vouchers. she is opposed by teachers unions. she is the chairwoman of an education advocacy group pushing school choice policies. no word on whether more nominations are coming during the holiday weekend. the president-elect and his family are spending their
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weekend in the private club in palm beach, florida. they will spend thanksgiving weekend there. are in washington, things gearing up for leadership elections in the u.s. house one week from today. ohio democrat tim ryan said that if he is elected house minority leader next week and immigrants don't take majority 2018, he will not run again for a second term. "roll call." "if we are not winning, we shouldn't keep people in their jobs." house democrats lost the majority in 2010 and failed to recapture it in 2012, 2014, and 2016. ryan has picked up a few endorsements. a congressman from tennessee says "i applaud him for his courage to run." ryan is running against nancy pelosi, was let the house democrats for 15 years.
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november is national adoption awareness month. the adoption institute address the issue at the city club of afterand shortly the election. this is about an hour. dan moulthrop: good afternoon and welcome to the city club of cleveland. i am dan moulthrop, chief executive and a proud member. it is my pleasure to welcome you and introduce our speaker today. chief executive of the donaldson adoption institute, april dinwoodie. before i get into this, let me acknowledge it may seem strange that today, just 4 days after a historic election, we are talking about adoption. but there is a few reasons why. one, we anticipate at this point, people may be exhausted by the campaign and election and need something else to think about, something completely different. that may in fact be the case. two, we have been reminded as important as this election has been, there is work to be done
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in so many areas that were never mentioned during the campaign and seldom get mentioned in the context of national politics. part of our job is to provide a platform for issues and perspectives that do not always get heard but are vitally important. november is national adoption awareness month, an annual campaign to raise awareness for children and youth in foster care who are waiting for permanent families. right now more than 107,000 children are in foster care. while this awareness campaign is only two decades old, a formal legal practice of adoption dates back to the 1850's, when massachusetts passed what is thought to be the first modern adoption law. since then, adoption has evolved society, moving from a secretive and often stigmatized process to one more open and widely recognized. not only a viable way to build a family but an important act to
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make the world a little bit better, one parent-child relationship at a time. it is not that simple or always that straightforward. movements around feminism, lgbt equality and civil rights, along with increased acceptance of single mother-led households has helped contribute to adoption. as exact figures cited above, 107,000 children in foster care, there is still work to be done. for children who remain in the system and age out, the work is even more challenging. it is a different set of work that needs to be done there. i am sure we will discuss at that. let me tell you about our speaker, ms. dinwoodie, a national recognized leader and chief executive of the donaldson adoption institute. she works to change laws, policies through research, education, and advocacy. she is the cofounder of a progressive nonprofit that pushes for innovation for children. before joining donaldson, she crated a mentor program called adoptment in which adults who
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were adopted or spent time in foster care serve as mentors. as a transracially adopted person herself, she shares her experiences at workshops to help potential adoptive parents and professionals understand the beauty and complexity of adopting children of a different race. before she entered the nonprofit world, she served as a senior executive within the marketing and communications departments of some the most recognized brands in the world including nine west, kenneth cole, jcpenney. ladies and gentlemen, members and friends of the city club of cleveland, please join me in welcoming april dinwoodie. [applause] april dinwoodie: good afternoon. i am so happy to be warmly welcomed here. it is an honor and privilege, one i do not take lightly and one that especially now feels more special and more important. i am grateful for all of you in
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this room and the warm welcome i received. a special thanks to city club of cleveland and stephanie for all she did and the team to make this a successful event. also, a heartfelt thank-you to adoption network cleveland. fierce advocates for adoption. a heartwarming group of people to be around. more poignant time to have a conversation, november became national adoption month under the clinton administration more than two decades ago. expanding from the week long celebration. the idea was to highlight the need for families -- for 100-plus thousand children waiting for foster care for adoption, which is a laudable goal, considering many of the
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children are older. today, national adoption month is expanded. it encompasses more of the voices of the adoption experience and the extended family of adoption, highlighting diverse experiences and reality. november is when we celebrate thanksgiving. i think we can all agree for many of us on the 24th as we spend time with family, we will reflect what family means for us. honoring our families today means we cannot just talk about it transactionally. we celebrate all of the parts, the complexity and beauty and the joy. we see how when we do this, it can be an evolved view. over the last few decades, the definition of family has expanded and evolved, races, classes, cultures, adoptive, lgbtq families, and those with third-party reproduction. however, the laws and policies
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for these families have not kept up. family is family regardless of how they are formed. and they all deserve to be happy, healthy, and strong. regardless of how your family is formed and even when they remind us of our most embarrassing moments, family is the foundation of our humanity. under the best of circumstances, maintaining connections is challenging and requires finesse -- requires understanding, thoughtfulness, and patience. this is even more for the extended family of adoption. with members of the adoption community representing less than 4% of the population, adoption is often seen as a niche issue and many fail to understand the bigger, more complex societal issues and the very real notion that the definition of family is evolving. too often, discussions on behavior surrounding adoption have centered on the competing interests of adults and not what is best for children. when we mindfully address the
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issues related to adoption, this can be part of a broader mandate to really strengthen all families and regain family values with modern sensibility. adoption is not a niche issue at all. 60% of americans talk about it in direct connection to adoption through friends, family, other families who have adopted, or adoptive people themselves. this community grows exponentially when we think about birth families who are always left out of the conversation about adoption. adoption is all around us. since 1971, i have had a very personal connection to adoption. in october of that year, my biological mother entered a hospital in massachusetts. on the 27th, i was born. on the 29th, i entered temporary foster care. nearly eight months after that, i joined the dinwoodie family. in 1973, i was legally adopted. i spent the last 45 years being fiercely loved by them and
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fiercely loving them back. i have also's and the better part of -- i have also spent the better part of the past 20 years finding connections with my family of origins. since 1996, the donaldson adoption institute has worked to improve the lives of children and family through research, education, and advocacy. we investigate the issues of greatest concern to expecting parents, adoptive parents, birth parents, and the families that extend to them and the professionals who serve them. our work has ranged from how to eliminate barriers from foster care to the impact of the internet on adoption to policies and perceptions. in 2013, after many years in corporate marketing, i began work at dai just shy of the 20th anniversary. the first matter of business to understand was the impact of our work, and after analyzing 40
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publications, 180 recommendations, just from dai, i had to ask myself, why haven't policies and practices moved far and fast enough? we started a movement because it was no longer a matter of knowing what to do. our research tells us what we need to do. it is a matter of understanding where our perceptions are and moving and organizing in a way to understand and unravel what is happening in adoption today. ourt now, as we all feel, work feels more urgent than ever. with all of that in mind, dai watched let's adopt reform, a movement, initiative, and a play on words, quite frankly to start , a national conversation in the 21st century. we conducted qualitative research with a wide range of professionals and did one of the biggest qualitative projects in this area to date. we set out on a national town hall and tapping tough issues
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and shared life experiences and asked tough questions. we arrived at several themes. adoption is not a one-time transaction. we must recognize the basic human rights of everybody in the extended family. children are not commodities. adoption in this country lacks uniformity. and last but not least, there will be no reform without education. first, we must acknowledge that adoption is not a one-time transaction but a transformational journey. for everyone involved. although the day a parent finalizes adoption is a powerful one, adoption will be more than one moment in time. we must recognize this as a starting place. throughout national adoption month, there will be heartwarming stories of the finalization's of adoption. it is a powerful thing. but we also have to acknowledge
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that the day that the legal mechanism that commences adoption is that one day and there is so much more to think about and to experience. there is a vital need to consider the different elements that create adoption, those that warm our hearts and those that may not. recognizing families need support is at the heart of this. e-andhat is really about pr post adoption services. in 2014, dai analyzed publicly funded services in this country and the truth is only a handful of states actually require this. 17 states were rated as good and substantial and at least 13 had absolutely no support at all. pre-adoption services vary by state and different numbers of requirements of education happens from 27 hours for foster care to 10 hours for intra-country. but the truth is, there has to be standardization and that is all about more than one day and one-time transaction.
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for expectant parents considering adoption, they must have unbiased counseling so they know the full range of their options. prospective adoptive parents must receive comprehensive educational training and support and include the idea of gains and losses. the availability of services require laws to change and funding to be available. lastly, if we are to mandate these supports, professionals that deliver must be educated. next we have to recognize the , basic human rights of everyone in the extended family of adoption. adoption is in urgent need of a cultural shift. that requires us first and foremost to make decisions that adopt the lens of human rights and practice adoption in ways that fundamentally respect and uphold humanity of all connected to it. too often, adoption is treated like a business transaction.
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when this happens, the extended family of adoption is objectified. working to ensure transparency expectant,ts, first-birthday and adoptive, are well informed and prepared. this means allowing adoptive this means allowing adoptive people access to their original birth certificates and knowledge of their origin. 69% of americans believe that adopted people should have access to their records and their birth certificates. and they should be made available to people. due to state laws, so many of us are denied access. most people are a mess when they lose their cell phones. imagine what it would be to lose a part of your identity permanently. similarly, openness is a healthier way to act. we are building relationships with families and acting with openness but a lot of work needs to be done. three in five americans believe that it is good for adoptive people to stay in contact with
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their families of origin. another element of human rights is something that has been known as re-homing. a 2013 investigation analyzed ads placed through yahoo! and 2012, the report indicated that 261 ads posted to have children moved from one home to another without legal oversight. most of these children, 70% that were advertised were adopted from other countries. 8% had been born the u.s. and the other 22%, we do not know. re-homing occurs outside of the court and since there are no
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formal statistics kept and we do not know how to ascertain how many children it impacts each year. this practice without any legal oversight has led to consequences for kids and exemplifies the worst that can happen when there are inappropriate checks and balances in place and a robust system of postadoption services. one child is one child too many. next, hard to hear, hard to look at, subtle references in my slides which look at different price tags on babies. children are not commodities. money is necessary. it is complicated to talk about and even more to -- more complicated to talk about when we put it next to adoption. over the last several decades, the institution has become more business versus social service to place children in need of permanent family spirit although adoptions do occur ethically, the reality is money and market forces have distorted adoption
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and created practices that are conducted like commercial transactions. this reality can lead parents open to possibility of coercion and emotional despair and leave adoptive people to feel like commodities. since these rules and regulations vary by state, fees differ and it is hard to know exactly how much is being charged for adoption. but there are some patterns. according to the u.s. department of health and human services, we estimate there are a range of cost including $0-$2500. $5,000-$45,000 plus for an adoption through an agency. and $15,000-$30,000 plus for intra-country adoption. although adoption has historically carried with it the idea of a charitable act, it is
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also an assumption that is in stark contrast to what happens today with adoption commanding very high fees. also, we cannot deny that birth parents fight a lack of resources and support for voluntarily relinquishing their children. this marketplace that undeniably exists privileges some over others and distorts the essence of what family is and should be about. more than 75% of the adoption community believes that money and privilege distorts adoption. more research in this area is needed and we have to know how this is impacting our experience before we can draft sound proposals for the ethics around policy. it is imperative no agency should be able to base fee structure on race, ethnic background, or need of a child. when money is equated to the child's characteristics, it is difficult to argue the fee is not for the service but for the
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child. providing incentives for adoption from foster care is an important endeavor, but money should not be an impediment for families seeking to become parents for a waiting child or a reason for child to be removed. we must also create policies that incentivize the creation of and provisions of evidence-based services to preserve families when appropriate and safe for children. similarly, expecting parents considering their options must be provided with all information that exists for parenting their child, including financial support. adoption in this country lacks uniformity. the inconsistency and policies that vary wildly by state can lead to fraud, coercion and undue stress.
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also, whatever country is part of it with domestic policies, regulations and practices can also differ vastly. this leaves things like the home study requirement, services to expectant parents and post-placement supervision are all over the map. 75% of the general public support a greater regulation for adoption and foster care. at the same time, research shows the public does not place high importance on the issue. there will be no reforms without education. one of the greatest impediments to meaningful reforms in adoption and foster care is the societal misperceptions and general lack of knowledge surrounding the realities. this has plagued families and individuals for decades. in some cases holding families back from healthy experiences and others impeding the well-being and contributing to serious challenges. people connected to adoption represent just one of the many challenging and changing dynamics in family today. nontraditional is the new
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traditional in today's modern world with the definition of family expanding. what remains problematic is policies and practices that have not kept up with the reality of families and that continues to negatively impact those closest to adoption. all children and families come into contact with different systems -- schools, health care systems. when these providers fail to have an education for these diverse families, the needs are left unmet and children and families feel unsupported. what also fuels this lack of knowledge are the stereotypes perpetuated in the media and popular culture, which often highlight the dramatic fairytale or cautionary nightmare. the reality of this experience is many more shades of gray. yet the headlines and made-for-tv movie plots increased stigma and misunderstanding.
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this makes it extremely difficult to advance the needed policy changes we know must happen and ultimately hurt children and families. research revealed adoption reform is a highly supported issue, yet 61% of americans admit they do not know much about it and how it works. when given a basic quiz about adoption, they received an average score of a c-. it is essential that we create ample spaces for members of the adoption immunity to share -- adoption community to share realities as well as a means for overcoming stigma perpetuated by unrealistic depictions. we must address the stigmatizing depictions in media, tv, and movies. professionals must be better educated about the unique needs of adoption and foster care communities in order to better serve them. schools, at the doctor, even the criminal justice system have to understand. much more needs to be done by
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building a stronger community within the adoption space and with us close to the experience, we have to stand shoulder to shoulder and show ourselves and make sure that policies change. what is the state of america -- adoption in america today? it depends on where you live. laws vary widely state-by-state. it depends on who you love. even with the win for marriage equality, the rights of the lgbt community are not always recognized. it depends how much money you have because the private and public adoption systems are worlds apart. it depends on where your adoption journey begins. private adoption or intra-country, private, domestic with an attorney. it depends on how adoption has impacted you as a birth parent, and adoptive parent, and adoptive person or a member of this community. it depends on whether you view adoption as a one-time transaction or lifelong.
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families and professionals today have an amazing ability to provide an experience that is not shrouded in secrecy or tainted with shame. when we honor the good and acknowledge the bad and commit to innovate a path of reform, we can ensure the highest ethical standards with openness and healthy development for everyone. it is time we move from fractional process to one that is more uniform and transformational. bringing a family into the world whether by birth or adoption or blending of families is like life-changing for everyone. when we recognize the impact and put children at the center, adoption can represent the evolved definition of family. this holiday season as you reflect on your families, remember adoption is not just someone else's family, it is about all of our families. and our families, when they are strong, will build stronger communities and those communities will make a better world.
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our commitment to children and families feels more urgent than ever before. so let's make it a priority, let's face the bad with insight interagency and -- and courage and let's celebrate the good every day in every way possible. being here with you today is a true honor and a gift and i hope it has created a little space for us to think about all the world as it relates to our center of gravity and how important these families will be as we march forward over this next time. grateful for the opportunity and will be happy to take your questions. [applause] dan: today we are enjoying a forum in the middle of november , national adoption month with april dinwoodie. i thought i mispronounced it. chief executive of the donaldson adoption institute. we are about to begin our
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traditional q&a and we welcome questions from everyone and those of you joining us by our radio broadcast, webcast, all of which is made possible by our partnership with ideastream, which is our npr affiliate. if you would like to tweet a question because you are in the room or not in the room, you can tweet us. our team will work it into the program. your questions should be brief and to the point. that goes that saying for twitter, but it is also for those of you in the room. holding our microphones today is teddy and stephanie. may we have our first question, please? >> the drama of adoption points to the drama of creating a family.
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it is such a complex matter, and you sketched that vividly. i think it will always be enormously difficult and complex. one of the things that you touched on that does seems to be in transition, and i would really welcome whatever wisdom your experience and empirical data has begun to bring to this question, and that is at what point in an adoptee's life should an adoptee have legally supported rights to go back and find birth data? and, there are so many rights competing here, the rights of the adoptee, the right of the birth family that might want some degree of secrecy or confidentiality, and the rights
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of the adopting family and the rights of society in general for clarity of these issues. i would really welcome hearing from you what is the prevailing wisdom of those who study this question and work in the field? april: a powerful question. thank you for that. so, i will start with my personal, because i think that is in some ways, the right way, the right place to start. i believe in the truth. ok? at whatever point that feels -- it feels as in the beginning. i think operating from a place of truth and giving the people most close to this the most support they need. research has shown when an expectant parent and birth parent have good counseling and good support, they can make a decision that does not feel like
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it has to be shrouded in secrecy or tainted with shame. and they can be connected to their children. this is something new we are working on. we are still unraveling the years where it was the closed adoption era, which was no information whatsoever. that has been my personal experience. it has created a challenging dynamic, most so for the adopted person. the pathology around knowing who you are. their adoptive parents, you do not set parents up for success when you do not allow them to speak the truth to their children. this can be the truth in many levels. we are seeing the technology with donor egg and sperm and we have to center on truth. we are unraveling the past. i would say it is still a work in progress to really know -- now when we have gotten still this movement to open records from the closed system. today, we have the opportunity to start with the truth for everyone.
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and that, to me, feels like the most important place to begin. >> i would just ask for a tiny clarification of whether the age of the adoptee is a critical factor in determining when a child should be able to go pursue this truth? april: well, i think every child is different, right? and their development is different. i think there are a lot of amazing professionals and parents that know how to discuss challenging topics with children that are age-appropriate. but i think today -- you start now with your children at whatever age they are. if you have not been talking about it since day one, which is the best for everyone, and i do not remember when my parents told me when i was adopted. it is something they did artfully and skillfully and organically. a child should not remember that day. it should be organically baked in.
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in the absence of that, start today as a family. get educated as a parent and get the support you need for how this may happen and unfold with your child. but i say, generally, the time is now, and make sure you have support around you. later is not better. later is not better. we see this in our research. it points to the importance of the truth. and some people have come to us much later in life with their adult children that they have not told and asking us what to do. so, we know people are coming to these realities and really not knowing what to do. so, there is no exact age i can say. but i say if you have not told your kids, start figuring out how to tell them today. and do what is best for your family and get the support that you need.
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>> over here. hello. you have talked about the difference in state laws governing adoption, you've advocated for not only transparency but uniformity. i cannot resist the question, seeing we just had an election here, of an administration that's probably going to be very committed to keeping government out of our lives. and that leaves me to the question of -- what action is presently pending that has any hope of bringing this uniformity, first of all of the federal level, which i rather doubt. and secondly, there is something called -- i forget the name -- and the uniformity in state laws, is there any action currently pending that might
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bring some uniformity across the country to state laws, motivated by state action? april: a great question. when you talk about what i talked about, and what we learned in the course of time in doing this work, there are a lot of steps in getting to some of this uniformity and there is not going to the light switch that says we will have uniform standards now. it is not a realistic idea but it is one we have to talk about as a concept. with that, there are pieces and parts of the process of adoption that i think can be more uniform as a starting place. one of those is universal home study, that is on the federal level. which would help, at least the part of the process, make it more uniform and something that right now, if you have a private
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domestic adoption, home study will look very different usually than a home study for foster care placement. those two things have to come closer to one another and we have to have the same experience and the same criteria for parents across the board. there is a home study act that has been introduced. but everything will recalibrate. pieces and parts -- and when that gets embedded and we can do that, then that leads the way for other things we can do as part of the process. it will be bits and pieces, not of the whole thing. that is one answer. on the state level, because states have closed and open adoption records over time, that's where you see a lot of action around the state activity today in adoption is working to advocate for those state laws to change so people can have access to their original birth certificates. so, there is one of a forward-looking federal mandate
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and then local in terms of access to records. then there is also the idea of closed adoption services and that varies state-by-state as well. i think about this idea that states are going to still have to implement what happens. that might be slightly different than our law system. but i think there are some good starting places and i hope and pray that we can pick up some of the momentum we had. but it will be piecemeal. it will not be sweeping changes that we would love to see. that is ok. our movement -- we are getting our identity in place. we do not really know who we are exactly in terms of a movement. we have to solidify some of our solidarity. but there's a lot of great, hopeful things in the works.
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>> thank you for coming today. my family is a transracial adoptive family. and i was wondering if you could give tips to me and others in the room who i know are in the same experience, especially somebody like colin kaepernick, that's a whole ball of wax we do not need to unravel. however, when he made his statement, people told him he was not black. and i took offense to that for him. so, could you speak to that? i really want for my children -- i apologize i am becoming emotional. but i do not want that world for my kids. i know you do not have the answer to that. april: i do have thoughts on this, though. i do a workshop called what my white parents didn't know and how i turned out ok anyway. [laughter] and it speaks to that over time,
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my time as a transracially adopted person, it talks us through that. but then you arrive in a place like today. i had a very, very emotional conversation with my mother about an article that i wrote. we wanted to live in the space, my family wanted a space that -- we do not see color. when i walked outside of this family, people see color. and i need a safe place to come. i cannot be one person in my family system and another person outside. and i am coming into my racial identity in this late stage and truly embracing that and being vocal. on top of that, i cannot think of a more empowering time to do that because i have to be settled in my racial identity because of the world is dangerous, emotionally and physically, for people of color. this is not about going to and operating within the transactional way of we did
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this, it is very novel. you have to embrace differences of race, class and culture in your family of adoption like it is your business. ok? we cannot keep sending our children out into the world unprepared with what they will undoubtedly face in this world. the global side of this -- the hopeful side of all of this -- there are many examples of this, i think my family has figured it out how to do this and we are still figuring it out and loving each other and trying to manage through colin kaepernick situations. we are uniquely designed in these families to actually talk about this in a -- in a productive way because it is urgent for us. we have to do it. so, i think this thing that is happening and i never thought it
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would be harder today to be in a transracially adopted life that when i was born into in 1971, but it is. so, we have got to move forward and it will be hard, it is going to be emotional. start with yourself. look in the mirror. say the words you do not like to hear. say it so you are ready to hear that. it is going to happen. have conversations about race daily, regularly in your family, outside of your family. make it a part of you. because if you do not, you will be faced with the rest of the world coming at your family uninvited to help you figure it out. you will not want that. you want to be ready for that. >> thank you very much for reintroducing a very challenging subject. i had an opportunity in the 1970's to deal with this issue in the ohio legislature. and our big approach at that point was to convert the
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independent adoption to public adoption so you had public supervision and public regulation of what was a private process. but one thing we never could figure out is what happens when the arrangement for the private adoption is made before the person is born. and then the birth does not turn out well. one of the more tragic situations that we've heard several times, is there any progress made over the last 40 years in that difficult subject? april: well, first and foremost, i do not think an adoption should ever be arranged before a child is born. we do not know as individuals how our lives will change dramatically upon giving birth to a baby. so, and there should be time and space for that decision to be solid. and that means that for adoptive parents out there, you have to go into the situation educated.
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what we are walking through because it is doable, it is workable. we do not want to talk down the details of these feelings of what will happen. i would say very little progress has happened in net area, if i am honest. when you do, when you have private adoption, that can be the do it yourself model which is taking advantage of our internet today and having an attorney and saying we are looking for a family. when there is no supervision and oversight in that, that is where the real challenge comes. there can be coercion, there can be fraud and major disappointment and devastation on both sides, the birth parents and the adoptive parents. i would love to see that move us , moved to a system where the private adoption system really oversees all adoptions and really reinforcing that and
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allng into consideration that we talked about today. and it is stuff we do not like to talk about. we do not like to talk about sex and babies, and things that happen, and that makes it difficult for us to treat this with the care that it needs to have. but i appreciate your work when you were doing it and i wish we had come much further and i could tell you something different today. >> hi. again, thank you for being here today. i am an adoptive parent that created a multiethnic family and i am also a professional that has worked with both the domestic and international adoption. one of my concerns that i think is quite ironic is that we are limited in the amount of training that we can give to parents who are adopting domestically, particularly
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through the public system in terms of dealing with the issues that are incumbent in raising a complex family due to racial and ethnic differences. whereas in international adoption, we are permitted and expected to provide that kind of training. do you have some guidance as how to manage those ironies? april: it is really a concern because some of the laws in place surrounding that are really about not impeding an adoption based on race. it does not say you cannot have the conversations about it. people act on it in that way. but impeding an adoption by talking about race, you are not impeding an adoption by talking about race, class and culture. you are actually fortifying the whole idea and the process and educating parents so they can make good decisions with good information.
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so, i think we have come into this belief that you cannot do that. quite frankly, in a lot of cases, because sometimes it is easier to not. the paperwork that i read that came with me that my parents were being told about a baby being available, me. she might be of mixed race. it says there is a chance because of some genetic things that she may be a child of mixed race. they would not say whether or not it was true. of course, it is true, and i still am. [laughter] what that set up is we do not need to have this conversation about race. with some of the laws that exist, you cannot impede the adoption, but it does not mean you cannot talk about it. there are a limited number of hours that you are required. so how much do you fit into that time?


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