Dedicated Searchers Recognized for Commitment to Helping Adoptees Search for Birth Families
PASADENA, Calif. (June 22, 2017) – Spokeo, the people search platform, along with an advisory committee comprised of leaders from the adoptee and search communities, today announced three winners of the 2017 Annual Spokeo Search Angel Awards: Cindy Gabbard, Dawn Kosmakos and Jan Sperry.
A “Search Angel” is an volunteer who donates their time and resources to aid individuals, usually associated with adoption, in their personal search goals, while providing guidance and emotional support throughout the process, free of charge. They are widely known throughout the adult adoptee community for their search work with those who have been touched by adoption, foster care and other family separation circumstances. 2017 is the fourth year that Spokeo has honored volunteers with awards.
“Every year, we are inspired by the amount of nominations we receive noting the wonderful work of Search Angels and the stories that describe them,” said Vanessa Waite, director of communications, Spokeo. “Spokeo is focused on helping people connect and know more about others and, in the case of adoptees, themselves and their own history. The advisory committee chose this year’s honorees after a vigorous selection process. Though all of the nominees and finalists are truly deserving of recognition for their selfless work, Dawn Kosmakos, Jan Sperry and Cindy Gabbard stood out to the committee for their dedication in helping adoptees find their answers and their passion for wanting to foster new search angels to assist the cause.”
Spokeo and the members of the Spokeo Search Angels Advisory Committee selected the three winners out of more than 65 nominations based on their passion and dedication to helping others navigate adoption reunion search.
Cindy Gabbard Doan – Becoming a Spokeo Search Angel marks Cindy’s first official designation as a search angel, but Cindy has been helping family members, friends and others solve family tree mysteries for years. Cindy regularly uses genealogy software and DNA testing to complete her searches. She loves the emotional support role she’s able to play in the lives of adoptees simply through a hobby that she is passionate about. She said, “I have found that many times, just knowing that someone cares and wants to help them can give [adoptees] the motivation to continue, especially in situations where it is a difficult search or the end results are less than desirable.”
Dawn M. Kosmakos – Dawn went 45 years before taking a DNA test for fun and discovering that the father who raised her wasn’t her biological father. After using DNA clues to find and reunite with her birth father, she became passionate about helping others with similar stories. She started as a search angel in a couple of well-known groups on Facebook in 2016. Dawn uses a variety of internet tools to find relatives, such as creating private Facebook groups to keep adoptees she works with in the loop about their search process.
Jan Louise Sperry – Jan began building family trees and learning about genealogy in 2002. Her first case was helping her best friend’s adoptive sister identify her biological parents. She officially became a search angel three years ago and regularly uses tech tools combined with DNA tests during her search processes. Jan’s motto as a search angel is “never give up.” She believes a truly successful search is identifying the person she set out to find, but she also assists and counsels adoptees during the major step many take when deciding to reunite with their birth family members.
The winners receive a cash grant to help counterbalance the personal costs they incur while searching on behalf of others, a one-year membership to Spokeo and the opportunity to offer reunion sponsorships to families who are matched by the angels during their time as an award winner with the travel costs covered by Spokeo.
The honorees were selected by the Search Angel Awards Advisory Committee, which is comprised of adoption industry leaders including:
Holly Choon Hyang Bachman – Founder and President, Mixed Roots Foundation
Melissa Barto – Account Director, JCUTLER media group
Brianne Kirkpatrick – DNA Consultant, Genetic Counselor and Founder, Watershed DNA
Johnny Madrid – Organizer, Foster Youth Who Vote, Former Board Director, A Home Within, California Court Appointed Special Advocates and National Foster Youth Action Network
CeCe Moore – Founder, “The DNA Detectives” and President / Co-founder, The Institute for Genetic Genealogy
Vanessa Flores Waite –Director of Public Relations & Community Initiatives, Spokeo
Marilyn Waugh – Search Angel; Past President and current State Representative, American Adoption Congress
Spokeo is also proud to partner with the Mixed Roots Foundation, a nonprofit organization that leverages philanthropy and grassroots fundraising to provide post-adoption resources for adoptees and their families, to host the Spokeo Search Angel Fund, which distributes the winners’ cash grants and funds other adoptee search endeavors.
For more information about the program, please visit www.spokeo.com/search-angels.
Spokeo is a people search platform helping users know more about the people in their lives. Based in Pasadena, the search tool organizes billions of records, from thousands of sources, into comprehensive profiles that can be used to make informed decisions or connect with others. Spokeo provides access to social profiles, court records, criminal records, names, addresses, phones and emails, or personal details, marital status, and more. For more information about Spokeo, visit https://www.spokeo.com or follow @spokeo on Twitter.
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JCUTLER media group