Amy McConnell Franklin, Ph.D., M.Ed., M.P.H., LMHC, is an independent educational consultant who has supported schools and human service agencies integrate emotional intelligence skills and mindful, ethical social and emotional learning (SEL) for the past 20 years. As a pioneer in the field of SEL and EI she has trained hundreds of educators, parents, students and community workers engaged in education pre-K through university and pre-service teacher training throughout the US and on 4 continents. As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, she recognizes the need to explicitly and universally develop social and emotional skills so that everyone can learn to create and sustain more mutually respectful relationships and make more compassionate and accountable decisions on behalf of self and others. She is the author of Choose to Change: A step-by-step teaching guide for fostering emotional intelligence in the classroom,Missing Peace Press, 2009. Amy has a Ph.D. in Latin American Studies and a Master’s degree in Public Health from Tulane University, a Master’s degree in Education from the University of New Orleans and a Bachelor's Degree from St John’s College. The daughter of two educators, one in early childhood education and one in higher education, Amy was raised in Santa Fe in the 1960s and 70s. In 2000, she, her husband and four children returned to New Mexico and are based primarily in Taos.
Cynthia Ramirez, MSW, LCSW, LSSW, is a Chicana born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Cynthia earned Bachelor degrees in both Sociology and Psychology from the University of New Mexico and a Masters in Social Work degree from New Mexico Highlands University. She also holds a level 3 Pre-K - 12 Administrative License. She is currently the Director of Student Support at Technology Leadership High School which she is a part of the founding team of the school. She is a certified GLSEN Professional Development Trainer and a Deeper Learning Equity Fellow. Her career experience reflects her passion and commitment to serving and advocating for LGBTQ youth, gang-involved youth, young people of color and students in the Albuquerque Area. In her spare time, Cynthia teaches fitness classes as a certified Zumba Instructor. She loves spending time with her family, friends, baking and reading.
Michele Hunt grew up in Pennsylvania, moved to Colorado for her bachelor's degrees, taught pre-kindergarten through second grade aged children in Fort Collins, Colorado for five years, then moved to Taos, New Mexico where she has continued her education and commitment to the education of children. Michele earned Bachelor degrees in both Elementary Education and Early Childhood Development from the University of Northern Colorado and a Masters in Educational Leadership from University of New Mexico. She also holds a level 3B Pre-K - 12 New Mexico Administrative License and a Level 3A K-8 New Mexico Teacher License. She is currently the Director of the Anansi Charter School which she is a part of the founding team of the school. She is a certified Parenting with Love and Logic Trainer and certified presenter for Emotional Intelligence. Her career experience and her development of the educational model and policy structure for the Anansi Charter reflects her commitment and passion for developing the whole child while creating a safe and welcoming school climate. Under her leadership the school has earned recognition as an Ashoka Changemaker School and the 2018 National Blue Ribbon for Closing the Achievement Gap for At Risk Students. In 2020, Michele received the Taosena Award as a Woman of Impact. In her spare time she loves spending time with family and friends enjoying the outdoors through skiing, boating, mountain biking, hiking, and gardening, and indoors cooking and reading.
Soña Alaniz Saiz currently serves as the Coordinator of Mental Health and Academic Counseling for Las Cruces Public Schools District. She is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) with a background in psychology and education. Her experience with school systems as an educator and social worker spans all levels: elementary, middle and high school, and higher education. She is a doctoral candidate within the Educational Leadership and Administration department at New Mexico State University (NMSU). Soña has been involved with emotional intelligence practice and social emotional learning for the past 25+ years. She strives to engage in advocacy that demands socially just practices throughout educational settings. Soña considers herself a lifelong learner and appreciates opportunities that expand her worldview and grow her ability to be an authentic human being.
Lynne McMahan, Ed.D. has been in the work of SEL through her teaching, leading and training through the Tribes process for 30+ years. Lynne is an Associate Faculty and Program Coordinator for Prescott College and is the Instructional Designer for the Transformational School Leadership Initiative for both the Santa Fe Center and The Institute for School Partnerships at WashU in St. Louis. She is a professional mentor and coach for educators and as a Tribes Trainer and Tribes Systems Consultant she helps schools, districts and organizations create positive learning cultures through professional learning communities development, visioning and strategic planning and sustainable and responsive leadership processes. She has lived in New Mexico both in Albuquerque and Santa Fe off and on for 12 years.
Kathy is a life long New Mexican and spent decades teaching in our public schools focusing on gifted students, math and science. She began her journey in SEL about 20 years ago when she realized it was often the “missing piece” in our educational practices. She currently is working with an ECECD grant as a Regional Childcare Coordinator for north west and north central NM. She and her husband live in Farmington and she enjoys being a grandmother and training and running barrel racing horses.
Ali Moore, LCSW is the Director of Student Support and Future Focused Education. Ali focuses on fostering the development of asset-driven, trauma-responsive and inclusive school practices in order to increase schools’ capacity to set students up for success, while promoting school cultures of equity and support for all. With over 10 years of social work experience domestically and abroad, she holds a Masters in Social Work (MSW), with an International Concentration, from Dominican University, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Pacific University. Although her career has taken her to work internationally, she is most passionate and proud to be living and working in her community of birth. Her work in Albuquerque, NM has included: in-home services to youth and families, building case management services within School Based Health Centers, youth-drive program development, the training and development of young adult peer support workers, teaching and supervising BSW and MSW interns, establishing and mobilizing community partnerships and the opening of a peer-support drop-in center for transition-age young people who have experienced disconnection from school, work, family and/or community.
Nina Feliz Gonzales is a native New Mexican. She has spent the last 25 years designing and implementing alternative and experiential education, adolescent recovery, wilderness therapy, workforce development, and community programs that foster access, equity, and inclusion for all. She currently serves as the Director of Student Support Services at the University of New Mexico-Taos. She oversees immigrant supports, tutoring, advising, literacy services, ADA services, veterans support, restorative justice education, career pathways, and high school equivalency programming, as well as directing Title V Hispanic Serving Institution and TRIO Student Support Services grants which implement best practices for student success in post-secondary education. She is passionate social-emotional learning as it is the foundational tool needed to foster whole human development and a healthy world.