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Meet Our Team

Alaina Daniels | they/she
Co-Founder & Executive Director

Alaina Daniels has devoted her career in education to elevating the voices of her transgender sisters and siblings in order to center, celebrate and protect transgender youth. A white, queer, neurodivergent, nonbinary trans woman, Alaina loves being both a mirror and a window for adolescents as they figure out their identities and find their voices in the world. Alaina has taught middle and high school science, activism, sex education, robotics, engineering, algebra, and queer media at New York City schools for over ten years including at Manhattan Country School, Bank Street School for Children, Brooklyn Friends, and the John Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.

Presenting her work on social justice education and research at Tufts University, Bank Street College, Hunter College, Brooklyn College, Chapin School, Allen-Stevenson School, the Free Minds Free Peoples Conference, Math for America, the National Coalition of Girls Schools, and the Academy for Teachers, among other institutions, Alaina has a long history of helping others learn to strive for liberation in their educational practice. Alaina was one of the co-founders of the NYC Trans Educator Network and has served on several boards. Their work has also contributed to Black Lives Matter at NYC Schools. She passionately believes that science and math can be incredibly powerful tools to educate for liberation.


Growing up, she wanted to be the first person on Mars, a lighthouse operator, or a pirate. Part of her still hopes to do all three. Whenever they are not teaching or organizing with other rad educators, Alaina likes to play roller derby, sail, bike, or make a delicious mess (and clean it up) in her tiny East Village kitchen.

Educational Background

Amherst College, BA, Environmental History & Science

Smith College, MAT, Biological Sciences & Education

Columbia University, Sex Education Initiative Fellowship

Columbia University, Human Ecology Inquire Institute

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Ro Peña | they/elle
Co-Founder & Director of Programming

Ro Peña is a non-binary Afro-Caribbean Dominican from Washington Heights, NYC. Over the last ten years, Ro has taught a variety of learners from first through sixth grade in public, charter, and private schools. Most recently, they served as second grade head teacher and team leader at Bank Street School for Children.

An experienced progressive educator and a 2021 Jamrog Group Educator Appreciation Project Honoree, Ro continues to facilitate many summer and afterschool enrichment programs and provides one-on-one academic support to students.

Ro’s life-long passion is building community through identity affirmation, including gender, sexuality, race, ability, and emotional awareness. They are also excited about science, nature, food, creativity, and culture. The author of Platanos en Nuestro Patio, which published in October 2023, and a Cook Prize Juror, they possess a deep love for children’s literature.

Educational Background

Bates College, BA, Theater and Education

Bank Street College of Education, Dual MA, General & Special Education

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Dr. Megan Pamela Ruth Madison | she/her
Chair of the Board of Trustees

Megan Pamela Ruth Madison is an educator, scholar, nonprofit expert, and activist based in New York City. Her career as a political educator began in the preschool classroom. Now, her students are mostly early childhood educators and systems leaders. As a consultant, she has worked most closely with the Center for Racial Justice in Education, the New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, and Bank Street’s Center on Culture, Race & Equity.

A Black, queer, neuroexpansive, cisgender woman, she has devoted her career to bringing an intersectional Black feminist liberationist lens to education and to seeking to improve systems so all children have access to the education that they need to access power and make change in our world. Megan is the co-author of First Conversations, a series of books aimed to support teachers and families to engage in critical conversations with young children about topics like race, gender, and consent. You can find her on instagram @meganmadison and @first_conversations.

She is passionate about democratic governance and organizational development and has left an undeniable impact on the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice, and JOIN for Justice through her board leadership. Currently, she is overjoyed to be serving on the board of Trans formative Schools as the founding Board Chair. 

An auntie and chosen parent for loved ones ranging in age from toddlers to grown adults, Megan believes in the power of the families that we create and the importance of ensuring that all children have a village of trusted adults beyond their “western-style ‘nuclear’ family.” Her experiences growing up in a small town in Michigan and leading a Jewish life have made her believe in the necessity of internationally-aware coalitions to move us towards a world where we are all free. Megan lives in Harlem on the unceded land of the Lenape people and loves going on nature walks, eating ice cream, and reading nonfiction books especially about politics or animal facts.

Educational Background

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, BA, Religion
Dominican University - Chicago, MS, Early Childhood Educati
Brandeis University - Boston, PhD, Social Policy (Children, Youth, and Families)

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Laleña Garcia | she/her
Director of Community Liberation

Laleña Garcia has been working with children at both independent and charter schools in New York City since 2000, including at Manhattan Country School, Brooklyn Friends, Bank Street School for Children, Harlem Children’s Zone, and the Rockefeller University Early Childhood Center. Laleña also provides professional development for schools and other institutions seeking to deepen their anti-racist work, presenting at conferences such as Free Minds, Free People; the Bank Street Kindergarten Conference; Defending the Early Years; and the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America. While at MCS, Laleña was a member of the founding union bargaining committee. Currently teaching kindergarten in Brooklyn, she is a neuroexpansive, Black and Puerto Rican, queer, cisgender woman.

Laleña also works as a Gender and Sexuality Trainer for the New York State Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, helping early childhood professionals and families to create expansive and supportive understandings of gender, sexuality, relationships, and family structure. A member of the Black Lives Matter at NYC Schools steering committee since 2018, Laleña also provides professional development for schools and other institutions seeking to deepen their anti-racist work. Her online course for adults, Rooted, offers contextual background and concrete strategies for anti-bias work in early childhood and elementary settings. Laleña’s first children’s book, What We Believe, was published by Lee and Low in 2020. The companion hardcover, How We Can Live, was released to starred reviews in October of 2022.

When she is not helping young children to discover the tools needed to smash the patriarchy and create new systems for liberation, you can find Laleña surfing in warm water, zooming around Brooklyn on her bicycle (always wearing a helmet, of course), or reading the QBIPOC Young Adult novels she wishes her younger self had the opportunity to read.

Educational Background

Yale University, BA, History 
Bank Street College of Education, MS, Early Childhood & Elementary Education

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Dr. Fer Salinas-Quiroz | they/elle/elu
Director of Research & Board Member

Dr. Fernando Salinas-Quiroz is an Assistant Professor at Tufts University, School of Arts and Sciences, Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study & Human Development. Fer heads the Abigail Adams Eliot and Anna Eveleth Holman SOGIE Laboratory which focuses on the role of gender modality, identity, and expression as well as sexual orientation in human development. Their aim is to interrogate dominant theories about Human Development as well as to trans Child Studies and enhance the lives of children, youth, families, and communities.
A dedicated teacher, Fer was a full professor at the National Pedagogic University in Mexico before joining Tufts University. They have worked as a lecturer and thesis director at various undergraduate and graduate programs in Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Greece, Portugal, The Netherlands, Uruguay, and the United States. Fer is also a guest speaker at national and international events as well as a practicing child psychologist. They are passionate about studying the development of children who are raised in “modern families” as well as outside the gender binary. Fer’s research has been published in top journals in English, Spanish, and Portuguese as well as in four books and various book chapters.
As a Brown, neurodivergent, nonbinary, flamboyant Mexican immigrant, Fer approaches their research through a lens of reflexivity with an understanding that their personal experiences and position in the world shape the focus of their work. Fer enjoys practicing Ashtanga yoga, dancing, laughing, and trying to spread kindness and compassion.
Educational Background

Ibero-American University, BA, Psychology (Clinical Psychology Specialization)

Mexican Psychoanalytic Association’s Postgraduate Center, MA, Child & Adolescent Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
COWAP & Université de Paris XIII, Postgraduate Diplomas in Parent-Infant Psychotherapy and in Parentality

National Autonomous University of Mexico, PhD, Psychology

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Mimi Shelton | she/her
Board Member 

Mimi Shelton is a fierce advocate, a passionate educator, and an indomitable force for justice. She is a Black, neuroexpansive, straight trans woman from the rural south. She is currently the National HIV Behavior Surveillance Trans Project Coordinator at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene where she leads research projects designed to improve the health of the trans community. Mimi has an extensive background in education and community-based advocacy work. In addition to her experience teaching English at Riverdale Country School, Manhattan Country School, the TEAK Fellowship, and the William Penn Charter School. Mimi's experience also includes serving as the Director of Trans Initiatives and Services at Destination Tomorrow, the Bronx LGBT Center.


In 2022 Mimi received the Monica Roberts Torch Award for her work as an organizer of the National Trans Visibility March. She has also been a panelist and presenter for the Audre Lorde Project, GLSEN, the National Education Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, and the Osborne Association. In 2020, Mimi was a featured talent in the Dove Pride 2020 Campaign, “Nothing More Beautiful,” directed by Tourmaline. She also serves on the board of directors for the New York Transgender Advocacy Group and The Okra Project. Mimi can also be found on LinkedIn or Instagram.


This fall Mimi is beginning her journey to become a lawyer with the City University of New York School of Law's Pipeline to Justice program. She plans to pursue public interest law, particularly relating to labor justice, civil rights, and gender/sexuality issues.  When she isn't advocating for collective liberation, Mimi loves to roller skate, watch professional wrestling, and dance.

Educational Background

College of William and Mary, B.A. English and African American Studies

University of Pennsylvania, M.S.Ed., Education, Culture, and Society

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Anuja Ankola-Rochetti | she/her
Board Member 

Anuja Ankola-Rochetti is a queer South Asian, neurodivergent, cisgender woman who has worked throughout her career to connect corporate and non-profit worlds in service of justice. Anuja’s pride and joy is her toddler whom she has the privilege of raising with her wife, Adrienne. Being a parent inspires Anuja’s efforts to ensure that all students have access to a joyful learning environment.

An expert in development and management, Anuja has a background in nurturing positive and productive relationships between organizations. Currently Anuja is a Director within the Global Client Group at American Express where she leads a portfolio of merchants and creates strategies to drive overall growth. She also actively serves on her organization’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging Council. Throughout her career, Anuja has produced multiple fundraising events for incredible organizations including the NYC LGBTQ Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, and the Hudson River Park Trust. This work has raised critical funds to support Anuja’s many communities. She also partners with her powerhouse wife, Adrienne, on some of her community-building projects and social impact initiatives. Anuja & Adrienne can both be found on LinkedIn.

With deep roots formed by living decades in New York City, Anuja, Adrienne, and their little toddler currently reside in Park Slope. As a three-time DIII NCAA Tennis Finalist who married NYU’s former point guard, Anuja & Adrienne can now be found getting even more exercise chasing their inexhaustible toddler around the park, beach, neighborhood, their apartment, and anywhere else he can climb. In her spare time Anuja enjoys exploring different neighborhoods around the city, checking out new restaurants (especially ones with gluten free options for Adrienne), cooking dinner for her queer community, and thinking of creative ways to scaffold and shape her child’s learning.

Educational Background

Amherst College, BA, Psychology
University of Massachusetts - Amherst, MS, Sport Management

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