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, incorporating the Tribes process (now Peace Learning Circles) for 30+ years in each of the educational settings she has been involved with. Lynne recently retired from Prescott College and has been awarded Faculty Emeritus status. She is also 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 and she is a professional mentor and coach for educators. As a Tribes (Peace Learning Circles) Trainer and Systems Consultant, she helps schools, districts, and organizations create positive learning cultures through professional learning communities development, visioning, strategic planning, and sustainable and responsive leadership processes. She has lived in New Mexico, both in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, off and on for 14 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 focuses on the advancement of culturally- and linguistically-responsive social emotional learning and support practices. This work enhances the positive development of youth, and the professional growth of adults working with youth, to transform community and workplace settings. Ali is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) from New Mexico with over 15 years of social work experience domestically and internationally. Her work in New Mexico has included: in-home services to youth and families, building case management services within School Based Health Centers, training youth peer support workers, and opening a peer-support drop-in center for transition-age young people who have experienced disconnection from school, work, family, and/or community. Ali is part of the leadership team with SEL4NM, and a certified Youth Mental Health First Aid instructor. Ali is most proud of her role as a partner and a mama to five children who keep her humble, honest, and practiced in her own SEL and wellness strategies so that she can show up as her best self for those who need her the most..
For over 15 years, Zach taught and worked at every level of education including college. He also worked for 8 years as a school administrator. For over a decade he has worked as a leadership coach, trainer, presenter, and consultant. During this time, he led and consulted with organizations in multiple sectors. Zach’s research, work, and presentations incorporate his deep interests in transformational leadership, mindfulness, emotional intelligence, organizational culture and climate, and systems thinking. He is a certified emotional intelligence leadership coach/consultant for leaders of all sectors as well as a trained mindfulness teacher. Zach lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico where he enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife, two daughters, and community of friends.