Shaun Emerson – Chicago, IL

Introducing our Lead Dad of the Week, Shaun Emerson, president of the board of MenLiving, a Chicago nonprofit that helps men forge friendships. One priority is combatting the epidemic of loneliness and mental health struggles among married and single men. And it’s doing so with the same concept we used as kids: coming together.

This past weekend, Shaun hosted the first annual Regular Guys Convention at – to his wife’s chagrin – their family getaway in Palm Springs, Calif. He had 20 guys getting together for hikes, for talks, for beer and most of all for a weekend in which being vulnerable, caring and fraternal was promoted.

“We’re here to learn about other guys over a weekend,” he said. “Guys need a support system.”

Shaun, who has a son and two daughters in their 20s with his wife, said there are two areas where MenLiving wants to help: guys checking out from their families, and men falling into depression and even suicide.

“If the script doesn’t work for you, be free to live the life you want to live,” he said. “Men get ashamed if they don’t follow a script and do certain things largely around being the bread winner. We want to be intentional and say you don’t have to live any of that. We want our members to be healthy to pursue life.”