Steamboat author’s memoir depicts a search for transparency in politics and family
“Finding My Way” details Robin Schepper’s path into a male-dominated political scene and her quest to unravel the half-truths about her biological father
When Robin Schepper’s second child was little, she felt like all she was doing was changing diapers and speaking in baby talk.
“I needed some intellectual stimulation,” she said.
That led her to a creative writing course where she wrote several short stories about her life — as she put it, her “origin story.” When Schepper shared those stories with friends, they repeatedly encouraged her to expand on them in a book.
During the stay-at-home days early on in the pandemic, Schepper got around to stringing those stories together into a memoir, which is slated for release on April 18.
Schepper’s book, “Finding My Way: A Memoir of Family, Identity and Political Ambition” chronicles her lifelong search for a dad she didn’t know and everything that happened along the way, including her work on presidential campaigns, helping plan several Olympic Games and a job in the White House.
In the book, Schepper also hopes to show that everyone has obstacles to overcome, even if those obstacles are not immediately apparent.
“People I meet now, they know my history of working for the White House, and they look at me, blonde, blue eyed, like ‘Oh, you’ve probably had a charmed life,’” Schepper said. “My impetus (for the book) was that we all have trauma in some way or another, and the more that we share with each other and support each other, I believe that we can have a more fulfilling life.”
Schepper was born to a single, Pan-Am stewardess mother in the 1960s in New York City. She didn’t learn English until kindergarten, became emancipated at 15, worked as a nanny to pay her living expenses and earned a scholarship to a prestigious girls school that had only started accepting Catholics like her after John F. Kennedy was elected president.
She worked as an advance organizer for the presidential campaigns of Dick Gephardt in 1988 and Bill Clinton in 1992, eventually serving as the Washington State Chair for Clinton’s 1996 campaign.
At the turn of the century, Schepper moved away from politics for a time, eventually helping to plan several Olympic Games, starting with an internship-like role in Sydney. Ahead of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Schepper would travel back and forth every two weeks between Greece and where she was living in Washington, D.C.
When the torch went out on those games, Schepper said, she got really involved in her adopted children’s school and spent a lot of time volunteering. That eventually led her to apply to lead Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative, which came with a desk in the East Wing of the White House.
After a year in that role, Schepper continued to work in the policy realm around food and nutrition, which brought her to military bases where 1950s-era recipes of liver and onions were still staples.
When funding for that dried up, she shifted her focus to local work in the Yampa Valley, which had become her home. When the pandemic started, she was enlisted to help with communications for Routt County, thinking it would only be temporary.
“Two years later,” Schepper said with a chuckle.
The book includes aspects of her life that Schepper said were hard to write about, like being sexually harassed and assaulted as she worked her way up in the male-dominated political scene of the 1980s and 1990s. Schepper said she hopes women, especially young women, read the book.
At the heart of it is the search for her biological father and unraveling the half-truths that she grew up hearing about who she was.
“I was looking for transparency in my family, because nobody would tell me the truth about who my dad was,” Schepper said. “I’ve tried to do the same thing in politics. … I think that the truth and providing information and education to voters is just as important as knowing who your family is.”
“I wanted to make an impact, because I was told as a kid that I didn’t matter. … I was a bastard child,” Schepper continued. “I wanted to prove everybody wrong.”
Schepper’s book is currently available for presale ahead of its April release. Off the Beaten Path Bookstore and Steamboat Sotheby’s is hosting a book signing event with Schepper after the book’s release on May 11.
To reach Dylan Anderson, call 970-871-4247 or email danderson@SteamboatPilot.com.
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