Many hearts and minds have been involved in the creation and ongoing development of Step Up Equity Matters.

Carolina Bailey, Owner & Lead Facilitator 

Carolina Bailey is a language instructor.  She has earned her graduate degrees in Colombia (native country), France and the US.  She is actively participating in an initiative to help improve the environment for diverse populations in academic settings.  Carolina believes that it is very important to have an open mind in order to accept and value people with different cultural, economic, and educational backgrounds because these differences enrich the ecology of workplaces as well as of the community.  In Colombia, she worked for high crime area schools with populations that were not welcome in their own communities.  Here, she learned to appreciate that everyone deserves a second chance in life since we all have something wonderful to offer.  This pushed her to seek opportunities in academic settings to help underrepresented students succeed.  Now, her interest is in using these skills in order to foster a welcoming environment in the workplace.  Carolina is a member of the Latino Professional Association, and she is a mentor for the Students of Color Mentoring Program, as well as a member of the Diversity and Community Relations Council at Madison College.

Tania A. Ibarra, Co-Founder, Owner & Lead Facilitator 

Tania Ibarra is a dynamic and agile solutionary who strives to help people reach their full potential. She believes in powerful environments where people can contribute their talents, knowledge, and skills freely. A professional with diverse industry experience in finance, accounting, and assurance, her strength lies in connecting process with financial and operational results while consistently seeking efficiencies via manual procedures automation. As a speaker, Tania combines personal experiences, data, and frameworks to connect and inspire audiences into action. She focuses on moving dreams to goals and desires to results.

Tania is a founder and board member of the Latino Professionals Association, an organization that cultivates a community that inspires, develops, and empowers Latinx professionals to pursue success.

Tania earned a Bachelors of Arts in Accounting and Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance from Clarke University. She is a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Wisconsin, a certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and holds a Professional Trainer Certificate from UW-Madison. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Open Compliance and Ethics Group. As a Green Belt project manager, she centers stakeholders to deliver value and balance interests in outcomes. Incredibly involved in her community, Tania volunteers on the Kids Forward and Downtown Madison Inc. boards. She is also a former board member of the Fund For Women, the Madison Coalition Cooperative Development, Centro Hispano, and the Latino Chamber of Commerce of Dane County.

Amy Kesling, Co-Founder, Owner & Lead Facilitator

Amy loves connecting people and processes for more equitable and sustainable outcomes. Amy’s background is in project management, facilitation, consulting, nonprofit leadership, and operations. As a facilitator, Amy connects with participants with humility and humor. She graduated from UW-Madison with a focus in Sociology and Geography with a Certificate in Environmental Studies. The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies recognized Amy with an Early Career Alumni award in 2016 for her work in elevating the conversation about equity, diversity, and inclusion in the sustainability movement. She is a SixSeconds certified Emotional Intelligence Practitioner and Assessor. Amy serves as a past board Vice President on the Racial Justice Committee at Community Shares of Wisconsin.

Lisa Peyton-Caire, Owner

Lisa Peyton-Caire, MS.Ed. is a respected leader, D&I professional, change manager, and non-profit executive. Regarded for her visionary leadership and consistency in achieving outstanding results, Ms. Peyton-Caire has led and/or pioneered many successful initiatives that continue to enrich the lives of youth, families and communities, and that enhance and grow the success of the organizations she serves. Her work spans the arenas of diversity and inclusion management, nonprofit and higher education leadership, organizational development, financial services, PK-16 education, and women’s health.

Lisa is also Founding CEO & President of The Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, a non-profit committed to eliminating health disparities and other barriers impacting the lives of African American women and girls. Lisa also served as the founding director and developer of the highly successful UW-Madison DoIT Information Technology Academy, a pre-college technology training & college access program for first-generation college students now in its 20th year.

She currently serves on the UW Population Health Institute Advisory Board; and is a former member of the Board of Directors for Unity Point-Meriter Health, the Center for Resilient Cities, Sustain Dane and A Fund for Women. Lisa holds a Master of Science degree in Educational Leadership & Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Sara Alvarado, Co-Founder and Facilitator 

Sara Alvarado is an entrepreneur, speaker, writer and a change agent in Madison WI. Sara and her husband, Carlos, lead a successful real estate business, the Alvarado Real Estate Group and a thriving bilingual/bicultural family. Their boutique real estate brokerage creates a unique environment and a culture of abundance and service while providing a strong team of real estate expertise for families in need of real estate guidance. Sara believes in being real, raw, bold, vulnerable and a lot of fun, while tackling difficult topics and leading from the heart. A native of Madison, WI, Sara is committed to creating a vibrant and strong community for everyone through her leadership and her passion for equity. She is a named founder and past board member of Nuestro Mundo Community School and Badger Rock Middle School, is one of the 40 under 40 for InBusiness Magazine (2013), and has served on the local Realtor Association BoardSustain Dane’s Board and is an active member of Dane Buy Local.

Lisa Berry, Facilitator 

Lisa’s mission is to make Madison a better place for all children. As the Diversity and Equity Education Specialist at Woodland Montessori School in Madison, WI, she has the opportunity to work with parents, teachers, administrators, and children to create inclusive education systems with more equitable outcomes. She was raised by an amazing mom who was an Inclusion Teacher, helping grow her passion which allowed her the opportunity to work with children for the last 20+ years. Lisa is pursuing her 3-6 Montessori Certification at the Seton Montessori Institute.

Faustina Bohling, Facilitator 

A business professional with experience in inclusion and diversity, human resources, community engagement, and program management. Faustina currently serves as Diversity and Inclusion Program Advisor at American Family Insurance where she develops and delivers the internal diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives and works in the community engaging in topics around inclusion. Faustina holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Masters Certificate of Sustainability Leadership from Edgewood College. In addition, she completed the Leadership Institute (LI) program, which is part of the University’s Division of Learning Communities for Institutional Change & Excellence (LCICE). She is also an active volunteer and board member of the City of Sun Prairie Personnel Committee, City of Sun Prairie Bicycling Sub-Committee, Latino Professional’s Association, and Kennedy Heights Community Center.

Carla Garces-Redd, Blended Learning Project Manager

Carla Garces-Redd has over eight years of experience in the public and non-profit sectors. Carla is energized by creating spaces to learn, having tough conversation and nurturing belonging. Carla started her professional career as a public school teacher and taught in Miami, Florida through Teach for America. In Madison, she went from one classroom to another, as Co-Director of Latino Academy, a grassroots non-profit dedicated to meeting adult learners where they are and implementing innovative programs that tackle the economic disparities for Latinx in Dane County. Carla now works in Organizational Development for the City of Madison and promotes living the value of inclusion.

Carla serves on the Board of the Greater Madison Latino Professionals Association and coaches for Girls on the Run. In her leisure time she enjoys running, traveling, and hopes to one day visit all of our National Parks.

Gautam Jayanthi, Facilitator 

Gautam is a dynamic professional who is passionate about entrenching equity, inclusion, and diversity into all areas of business practices. He is devoted to moving past compliance-based operations toward fully embracing policies and practices grounded in tenets of restorative justice. He currently works as a Human Resources Manager with UW-Madison where he operationalizes equity through empowering employees to bring their true authentic selves to work and find new definitions of success in large bureaucratic environments.

He believes that true change occurs when individuals are empowered to advocate for themselves, systems are built with equity, justice, and access in mind, and we are able to hold those in power to a higher standard. He’s never met a dog he didn’t like.

Lisa Koenecke, Facilitator 

As an experienced and energetic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) professional speaker and facilitator, Lisa specializes in LGBTQ+ inclusion in business and counteracting unconscious bias. Her impact is amplified through strengthening each person’s allyship. With a demonstrated history of working in secondary education and a passion toward community and social services, she is an expert in counseling, crisis intervention, educational leadership, and program development.

After receiving her Diversity & Inclusion certification from Cornell University, Lisa launched her Inclusion Ally business. Being an expert in LGBTQ+ issues has allowed her to present in 20 states and keynote numerous school counseling conferences.

Lisa’s speaking style can best be described as dynamic, energetic and interactive. After 12 years of being a middle school counselor, she is now an adjunct instructor at Lakeland University training the next generation of school counselors.

Gregg Potter, Facilitator 

Gregg Potter is a writer, activist, public speaker, and the founder of Project Kinect. Potter, a Wisconsin native, recently returned to Madison after spending more than a decade on the west coast and abroad. His life has been focused on offering his tools and gifts to others. In 2014, Potter received his Masters in Public Service from the Clinton School of Public Service in Arkansas. The experience catapulted him into a new reality of tangible ways he can create meaningful change. From tornado relief in Alabama to working with corporations to become more effective in their communities, to fighting for human rights of the marginalized in South Africa, Potter strives to be an effective tool for other people doing social good. His hope is that we can all accept each other, work together, and take responsibility for ourselves to create real sustainable change that benefits everyone.

Alia Stevenson, Facilitator 

An advocate for health, wellness and equitable approaches to public health, Alia Stevenson brings a holistic approach to her work as an organizational leadership expert through assessing and improving environments to support the health needs of both individuals and organizations. Alia was recognized as one of Brava Magazine’s 2015 Women to Watch, a 2017 graduate of Nehemiah’s African American Leadership Capacity & Development Institute, and a 2017-2018 Human Impact Partner Health Equity Awakened Fellow. She holds a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling Psychology, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism, both from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Alia is active in her community as a Board Member for Forward Community Investments; Edgewood College’s Social Innovation and Sustainability Leadership Program; and the Foundation For Black Women’s Wellness.

Step Up: Equity Matters was cofounded in 2014 by a collaborative team of people representing corporate, nonprofit, and small businesses. Since that time, the team has grown and our work has evolved, but we remain true to our original goal of advancing equity within organizations. Pictured above are cofounders (left to right) Amy Kesling, Haywood Simmons, Tania Ibarra, and Sara Alvarado.