John Chakan

Office Manager

 

How did I get here? That’s an interesting story. I was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City. I dreamed of being a professional baseball player (Go Yankees!), but my promising career was cut short by a condition known as “not being good enough.” When I wasn’t playing baseball (or soccer or football or basketball) as a kid, I was spending my summers attending, and then working at, a summer camp in Northern California on a livestock ranch. While it might seem a bit incongruous for a suburban New Yorker to spend his summers milking cows, chopping wood, and canoeing down the Russian River, I fell in love with the interconnected community of summer camp, and I also fell in love with California.

When it came time to pick a college, I was one of only two kids from my high school to come west of the Mississippi, as I attended Stanford University. While I briefly flirted with studying computer science (I loved programming back in the day), I ended up following my passion for acting as a drama major (with a minor in psychology). While not known as an “acting school,” I loved the small department that I was a part of at Stanford, as it allowed me to not only act (in parts ranging from Shakespeare to musical theater, with a special focus on improvisation), but also direct, write, build sets, design lights, and be involved with all aspects of the communal creative process.

I moved back to New York following graduation, seeking a career in the theater. However, while I enjoyed my brief period as a professional auditioner, bartender, and bouncer, I realized that I loved the creative process of the theater but not the profession. I also missed being outside, building community, and being part of the summer camp world. So, I returned to Northern California, where I began working full-time as a summer camp director.

It was during this period that I also reconnected with a childhood friend (our dads went to Princeton together). After a few “friend” dates, things escalated quickly, and in 2003, Kelly Marston and I got married. Two years later, we welcomed the first of our three children, and while on maternity leave, Kelly started working with me at the summer camp, and we made the decision to run the camp together. For ten years, we ran one of the top-rated summer camps in the country, impacting thousands of children’s lives. Together, we created an intentional community, fostering self-esteem, grit, and kindness.

Sadly, we lost our lease on the camp, and despite trying to open our own camp in Southern California for a year, we ended up leaving the camp business in 2014. I worked a few odd jobs, but then a friend sent me a message that a friend of his (Jonathan) was looking for some office help. I figured it would be a fine thing to do for six to nine months while I figured out what I wanted to do next.

I had no idea that I had found my next work home. I had no background in audiology, but I discovered that I got the same personal reward taking care of our patients that I did taking care of children at camp. Jonathan is a kindred spirit, and watching him go the extra mile to take care of people, I knew that I wanted to be a part of making Berkeley Hearing Center successful. I am happy to add my small business expertise to allow our audiologists to take care of our patients. I love talking with patients on the phone and in the office, helping demystify the patient journey.

Now, I have also become interested in the audiological side as well, as I have studied for and received my trainee license as a hearing aid specialist. Together with Jonathan (and now Jessa!), I love being part of this team, and I love making an impact on people’s lives.

 

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