Finding Gratitude in a California Adventure Sean King, Board Member

Sometimes the greatest adventure is the one you were scared to take. For Sean King, his wife Kaitlin, and three kids, Eamon (9), Emma (8), and Brendan (5), the year 2019 was their call to adventure. So far, it’s been an incredible journey. King began his professional career with PepsiCo upon graduating from Loyola University, Maryland, in 2007, working on his way up to Senior Market Director in 2019.

He married his college sweetheart, Kaitlin, and became a father of three. The Kings’ entire lives were in the New Jersey, New York metro area, only 12 minutes from Sean’s parents and within an hour and a half drive of Kaitlin’s family.

Sean King, Adventist Health White Memorial Charitable Foundation Board MemberSo when the opportunity for King to become Vice President and General Manager of the West Division at PepsiCo, based in California, he had a difficult choice to make. Moving to California would require him to uproot his three young children and leave behind the familiar life, loved ones, and support system they had built around them. Suddenly, that 12-minute drive to visit grandparents would become a daunting 6-hour flight, requiring months of planning, at the cost of five plane tickets instead of a mere gallon of gas.

However, the Kings are adventurers at heart, and the allure of starting a new journey together was too strong to resist, tipping the scales in favor of California. King also knew that taking risks and stepping out of his comfort zone were essential for personal and professional growth. So with a sense of excitement and trepidation, Sean, Kaitlin, Eamon, Emma and Brendan moved to California in 2019.

That isn’t to say that it was easy. In 2020, COVID brought unprecedented isolation and uncertainty. Yet once it was evident that COVID was here to stay, the Kings used the statewide shelter-in-place order to connect with their new neighbors, plug into their community, and forge stronger family bonds with one another. Though COVID brought much of the world to a standstill, it also allowed the Kings to build a new sense of belonging in California.

By 2022, King knew the intricacies and nuances of his new home and job. And through his work with PepsiCo, he had the privilege of meeting many of his team members who lived and worked in and around Los Angeles, East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights. He was also introduced to the work of Adventist Health White Memorial in the latter part of 2022, thanks to his PepsiCo colleagues, Lupe De La Cruz and Fidel Gomez. They arranged for King to meet with Adventist Health White Memorial Charitable Foundation President Juan De La Cruz to learn firsthand about the hospital’s essential medical, spiritual, personal and professional support to the community.

In particular, King was impressed by Adventist Health White Memorial’s commitment to cancer support, research and treatment, an issue that holds personal significance for him. In addition, the hospital’s dedication to community development and investment in mental health and wellness also moved him. So, when invited to join the White Memorial Charitable Foundation board of directors in January 2023, King did not hesitate, embracing the opportunity to serve on his first nonprofit board.

“As part of Pepsi, it’s critical for us to have an authentic and genuine relationship to the communities we serve,” King said. “We’ve been in Los Angeles close to a hundred years, and it’s really important for us to maintain that relationship. For me personally, it means a lot to give back and support an organization that has a greater cause.”

King’s decision to move to California with his family required courage and for everyone to keep their hearts and minds open. But in doing so, their California adventure has changed their lives forever. They discovered a new home, built a strong community and grew closer, bonded by the shared experience. And for that, they are grateful.

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