The Emerging Leaders Get Gala Ready!

The Emerging Leaders Get Gala Ready!

Rachel Shifaraw Keith Sciarillo and Michaela Battle smiling pose at 25th Anniversary C.A.S.E. Gala
Written by Rachel Shifaraw, Adult Adoptee, C.A.S.E. Emerging Leader & Creative Content Specialist
Published on: Mar 28, 2024
Category Adult Adoptees

The Emerging Leaders are getting Gala ready! Our planning started last November when C.A.S.E. CEO Debbie Riley asked us to take part in the presentations for the night. We’ve been putting together our pieces ever since!

Our group chat consists of snapshots of suits & dresses…descriptions of our outfits & logistics regarding our time frames to rehearse & present…where people are staying etc. But beyond that group chat, 8 humans sit silently writing their stories & preparing to speak the unspeakable, as we say.

I asked Sara Bruce how she prepares to share such personal parts of herself with such a large crowd. She quickly responded, “the key component is giving myself time to rehearse…so I can practice what I’ll be sharing & process the emotions it brings up before the big event.” Bruce continued on, “it also helps to have the support of my loved ones at these events.”

For me, my loved ones are attending for their very first time. My parents & my spouse have never heard me speak. My deepest adoption emotions are most often kept secret from my family & while their presence is special to me, it feels more like stress than support. I’m preparing for the night by reminding myself it’s okay to share my truth.

Emily Kwiatkowski has mixed emotions when it comes to gala preparations. This will be the first time her parents hear her speak, too! “I like sharing my story but I am not the most comfortable speaking in front of large crowds. On the other hand, I’m bringing my parents with me & hope it will be a special night for them. This will be their first time hearing me speak publicly about adoption.”

Zoe Bulitt echoed that a bit, as this is the second C.A.S.E. event she has worked on with her parents, while also offering insight on the productive conversations these events have led to. “I always feel a little nervous when I know they’re going to be there & I have to speak about my experiences but it’s actually opened up a lot of really great conversations between my parents & I.”

Keith Sciarillo & Sophia Hardesty-Meteyer are both excited about this year’s theme! “I’m super jazzed! Not only to be with my fellow emerging leaders but also to sport my outfit inspired by this year’s theme”, Sophia said. Sciarillo felt the same…“I’m most excited to introduce familiar faces to my girlfriend. We’ve been talking about what to wear to the event!”

Michaela Battle has been attending C.A.S.E. Gala’s for as long as she can remember! We talked about it as she was on international travel. Sitting comfortably in her seat, preparing for the event as she soared through the clouds, she sent me a message… “The gala holds a special part in my heart”, she said, explaining how her family has personally benefited from C.A.S.E. services. “I know firsthand the transformative impact adoption competent therapists have on one’s adoption journey. Without their support, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

After months of writing & editing, rehearsing & releasing our emotions…we had our final meeting. It was mid March, the Gala just a few weeks away, spring was chirping outside my bedroom window. I thought a lot about my time with the Emerging Leaders, all the effort we put into sharing our stories & all the comfort we find in the special bond we all share…the bond of being adopted.

As I prepared to close this chapter on 2024 gala preparations, I reached out to Tony Parsons…our newly elected Chairman. I asked him what he hopes to see from the Emerging Leaders in the future. His response was clear, “My hope is that our presence, impact & contributions to the Gala continue to grow. As we expand our reach across the nation, my sincere hope & belief is that the Emerging Leaders will come to be viewed as partners in the conceptualization all the way to the execution of the Gala.”

We’re officially ready…we’ll see you there!