We humans need agency in order to make our way forward; I am deeply interested in what impedes us.
My first book, the 2015 New York Times bestseller How to Raise an Adult, details how a parent can rob a child from developing agency by over-parenting. It emerged from my decade as Stanford University’s Dean of Freshmen, where I was known for my fierce advocacy for young adults and my fierce critique of the growing trend of parental involvement in the day-to-day lives of college students which was becoming a nationwide trend. I received the university’s Lloyd W. Dinkelspiel Award for creating “the” atmosphere that defines the undergraduate experience, and toward the end of my tenure as dean I began speaking and writing widely on the harm of helicopter parenting. How to Raise an Adult has been published in over two dozen countries and gave rise to a TED talk that became one of the top TED Talks of 2016 with over 3.5 million views and counting, as well as a forthcoming sequel on how to be an adult, for young adults.
Two years later I published Real American: A Memoir, a critically-acclaimed and award-winning memoir which examines racism through my experience as a Black and biracial person. In it, I detail my personal battle with the low self-esteem that American racism routinely inflicts on people of color, and depict how microaggressions in addition to blunt-force insults can puncture a person’s inner life with a thousand sharp cuts. Real American expresses also, through my path to self-acceptance, the healing power of community in overcoming the hurtful isolation of being incessantly considered “the other.”
In addition to publishing two non-fiction books, my work has appeared throughout the media including in the New York Times, the Times Literary Supplement of London, the Chicago Tribune, The Atlantic, Parents, AsUs, the PBS News Hour, CBS This Morning, Good Morning America, The Today Show, National Public Radio and its affiliates, C-SPAN, the TD Jakes Show, and numerous podcasts and radio shows. I serve on the boards of Foundation for a College Education in East Palo Alto, CA, Global Citizen Year, in Oakland, CA, Common Sense Media, in San Francisco, and on the advisory board of Lean In in Palo Alto, CA. I am a member of the Peninsula chapter of Threshold Choir and I volunteer with the hospital program No One Dies Alone. I am a former corporate lawyer and Stanford dean, and I hold a BA from Stanford, a JD from Harvard, and an MFA in Writing from California College of the Arts. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area with my partner of over thirty years, our two teenagers, and my mother.
I root for humans. Humans need agency in order to make their way forward; I am deeply interested in what impedes us. I am the New York Times bestselling author of How to Raise an Adult, an anti-helicopter parenting manifesto which gave rise to one of the top TED Talks of 2016, and now has over 3.5 million views. My second book is the critically-acclaimed and award-winning prose poetry memoir Real American, which illustrates my experience with racism and my journey toward self-acceptance. A third book on how to be an adult, for young adults, is forthcoming. I am a former corporate lawyer and Stanford dean, and I hold a BA from Stanford, a JD from Harvard, and an MFA in Writing from California College of the Arts. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area with my partner of over thirty years, our two teenagers, and my mother.