A few words about me…

John R. Gagain Jr
3 min readFeb 10, 2017

I was born in the “rust belt” of Connecticut, right in the middle of the state in a small city called Waterbury. Although Connecticut goes blue (Democrat) in presidential elections, in 2016, President Trump (Republican) did well in my hometown and throughout Connecticut’s forgotten rust belt working class communities.

Waterbury, Connecticut

I come from a family of law enforcement officers. My father was a cop. My mother’s brother was a cop. My sister is a corrections officer. My mother’s husband was a corrections officer. My first cousin is now a local cop. Being a police officer is a big deal if you’re from my hometown. Presidential candidate Trump visited our local police department while on the campaign trail. Police officers even became a bigger part of our family since, one early morning on December 18, 1992; my uncle (my mother’s brother) was shot and killed in the line of duty by a narcotics dealer while he was patrolling the streets for Waterbury Police Department and the people of the city.

President Donald J. Trump visiting Police Department on campaign trail

I was destined to become a cop too. But I took a different route in life. I ventured to New York City to study at Pace University. This experience, quite the opposite of Connecticut’s rust belt towns, opened my eyes to the world — new ideas, new people, many cultures, different languages; and many races, religions, and sexual orientations. As a young white American, former high school football player, destined to become a cop like others in my family; I decided to double down on this wonderful new enlightening experience called New York City. I became the president of my university’s Model United Nations team, graduated from college, pursued a career at the United Nations, looked to new opportunities and friends around the world (having traveled to over 40 countries and worked in several), and learned to speak Spanish as a gringo — or “Latino wanna-be” as my two Dominican-American sons call me. I have not stopped searching for new people, new ideas, and new meaning ever since. My third-son, born in 2018, is Colombian-American. Another reason for me to be a “Latino wanna-be.”

I believe that curiosity is one of our greatest values. In my opinion, it is fast becoming the currency of the 21st century. I believe that the pursuit of knowledge and learning is what shapes us as a people and saves us as humanity. Curiosity might be our best hope for peace, prosperity, and saving our planet from climate devastation. I often feel overwhelmed by my many interests and curiosity. But now I think —after Trump in America — it might be part of my story to be shared. I would hope that my story — from rust belt Connecticut to the United Nations — mixed with my deep curiosity for the world and multiculturalism, can serve as a source of hope for other Americans that chose to close up, like a clam in a shell — and look inward, rather than outward to the world and its possibilities.

I hope to be able to share my story, attitude, curiosity, constant pursuit for knowledge and learning, and different experiences living abroad relevant to my friends, loved ones, and anyone, or any organization, looking to share my hope for the future.

(updated April 2023)

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John R. Gagain Jr

I’m a Change professional that loves facilitating workshops for teams looking to be more innovative & impactful; coaching, storytelling, & leadership.