Sarai Shapiro: Founder, Executive Director
Sarai has been a part of creating programs and serving girls in wilderness groups since 2007. She has worked as a mentor for, founded and directed girls’ groups and coming of age based programs individually and for organizations such as the ALEPH Kallah, Wilderness Torah, Wild Earth and the Vermont Wilderness School. She has trained in naturalist skills, mentoring, and cultural regeneration through the 8 shields cultural mentoring model, completed the TerraSoma Wilderness Guide Apprenticeship with Wilderness Reflections, has a certificate in clinical herbalism from the California School of Herbal Studies, trained in the Girls Leadership model, Non-Violent Communication, energy psychology, Ayurveda, and other healing modalities, all of which inform the work of Gaia Girls Passages. She has carried the question for many years of “What do girls need to grow into healthy womanhood?” Through her education, research, and years of working with girls she has found many answers to that question that are now woven into the web of what is today Gaia Girls Passages.
Claire Blaney: Operations Director
Claire brings to Gaia Girls Passages over ten-years of experience coaching and supporting young adults. She has served vulnerable youth to build skills and confidence as Executive Director of Running for a Better Oakland and of Girls on the Run, and Operations Director for Moving Forward Education. Unofficially, however, she began this journey decades ago in the suburban woods of New Jersey, persuading her community of friends to climb trees, “jump brooks”, and build forts until it was too dark to see anymore.
Claire is excited to manage the operations for Gaia Girls Passages as we expand to serve more girls, while reducing the barriers to joining.
Ursula Stoller: Program Manager, Lead Auntie
Ursula is most at home in the water. She was born and raised in the beautiful land of the Bay Area, Ohlone Territory, and loves to wander the wild lands surrounding the city. She has been teaching mindfulness and nature connection to youth in the bay area for many years with organizations including the Mindful Life Project and Wilderness Torah. She loves singing, plants, and sharing stories with her puppets. She is passionate about rites of passage for all ages, and now is a doula as well as an educator. She was lucky to study nature connection at the Wilderness Awareness School in Washington state, which deepened her connection to place and passion for teaching and mentoring youth outdoors. In this time she also got to experience moving through her own rite of passage held by the community there, and is grateful to be able to steward this journey for youth at Gaia Girls.
Gissell Morales: Administrator and Marketing Assistant
Gissell is a Bay Area native who has a passion for connecting with others, building relationships, and connecting with herself through nature and meditation. She was raised on the big, little island of Alameda, and is the most grounded around water and sand – the beach is truly her happy place! Gissell holds a degree and a decade of experience in the business administration field. Her career lead her to Berkeley Law in 2016, and in 2019, Gissell provided volunteer work for female oriented podcasts and brands, which ultimately lead her to pursue her passion in digital media marketing and administrative project management. Gissell came to Gaia Girls Passages in 2019. Gissell is passionate about helping women owned organizations and loves providing her assistance with digital media marketing, customer service, and administrative assistance. In Gissell’s spare time, she loves to run, cook, spend time with her family, and runs her freelancing business called Girl Finds Balance.