PRESIDENT & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER: Lee-Anne Gray, PsyD, PSY19540, is a psychologist, educator, and former UCLA adjunct professor. She was a TEDx Organizer, and blogged for Huffington Post. She created compassion & self-compassion training programs for teens, the latter published as a book, by PESI Publishing & Media in late 2016, which was #1 New Release on Amazon in Child Popular Psychology & in Emotional Mental Health. Dr. Gray is a national speaker on mindful awareness, educational trauma, LGBTQ+ youth, gifted, and special education. She is the author of Self-Compassion for Teens, LGBTQ+ Youth, The Happy Family: 10 Strategies for Bringing More Happiness Into Your Home, and is also contributing author of Pedagogies of Kindness and Respect: On the Lives and Education of Children (Peter Lang, 2015). She trains thousands of educators and clinicians all over North America. She is currently writing Educational Trauma: Examples from Testing to the School-to-Prison Pipeline.
CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER: Wendy Taira, has a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Finance, as well as extensive experience applying it to non-profit organizations, sales, legislative policy analysis, as well as in property management. Wendy was an analyst for Paul Oshiro, Vice Speaker of the House of Representatitves in Hawaii. She assisted in mergers and acquisitions at Alliant Partners, in association with Sillicon Valley Bank, and was also an Enterprise Business Representative at Salesforce.com, serving corporations with over 1000 employees. Wendy's professional service in the non-profit sector ocurred at St. Anthony's Foundation in San Francisco, where 3000 meals are served to the hungry and homeless everyday. Wendy's passion for community service is evident in her years of volunteering at Shriner's Hospital, the Humane Society of Hawaii, and the Center for the Pacific Asian Family. She also has theatre experience, having performed in a local production of The Vagina Monologues. When Wendy became a mother, she committed herself to progressive education, and currently serves as a tutor for Classical Conversations, where she delivers song-based instruction in history, geography, math, latin, science, and language arts. Wendy shines her light on The Connect Group inspiring kindness, respect, dramaturgical consciousness, unconditional and unlimited generosity, as well as empathy and compassion for everyone!
DIRECTOR OF YOGA AND MEDITATION: Traca Gress, MA received her Master's Degree in Yoga Studies from Loyola Marymount University in 2016, and enjoys sharing her lifelong passions for yoga, dance, nature, art, gardening, travel, meditation and Native American/Peruvian Shamanic explorations. She has been a longtime student of Khen Rinpoche Lobsang Tsetan (abbott of the TashiLhunpo monastery in Southern India) whose very best teaching is his clear embodiment of joy, compassion and presence.
LEAD PROGRAM FACILITATOR: Chase Gray is a Lead Program Facilitator at The Connect Group. He is completing a design program at UCLA, and was recently accepted to LetterWest. Chase started college at age 15. With a focus on art and graphic design studies, Chase interned with Los Angeles artist April Bey installing her piece for the Skin exhibit at the L.A. Municipal Art Gallery. As a co-founder of The Connect Group School, Chase led Design Thinking challenges and a successful fundraising campaign for P.E. equipment. Chase has long supported his local B’nei Brith Youth Organization chapter as a Schliach (Judaic Leader), Mazkir (Historian/Secretary), Moreh (Vice President of Membership and Recruiting,) and S’gan (Vice President of Programming). He was on the steering committee of the regional weekend-long program in Fall 2015, where 200 high school students attended. Currently, Chase was the regional Gizbor (treasurer) for the Pacific Western Region of BBYO. In his free time he enjoys being outdoors, and athletic activities of any variety.
LEAD PROGRAM FACILITATOR: Lewis Tachau left traditional schooling in 7th grade, in favor of homeschooling through 10th grade. In 2012, he gave a TEDx talk on the educational benefits of online gaming. In the 11th grade, he co-founded and co-designed the pilot program EmpathicEducation for a CompassionateNation, which operated as The Connect Group School in 2014-15. At age 16, Lewis began college at UCLA. He has strong leadership abilities as evidenced by his contributions to several organizations. He received training over the course of two years from Sherut L’olam, in the areas of social advocacy and teen leadership. In the B’nei B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO,) he has held the following positions for his local chapter: Mazkir/Historian, Secretary, Moreh/Recruiter, S’gan/Vice President, and Godol/President. Since 2015, Lewis has been a Mixed Media Specialist, Nature Specialist, Pioneer Living Specialist, Counselor, and Caregiver for Children with Special Needs at Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu California. He is also a regular counselor at the Shalom Institute’s many retreats.