Staff Bios

Alliance Staff


Owen Daniel-McCarter, Esq. (He/Him/His)
Executive Director 

Owen advocates for gender inclusivity in schools, LGBT affirming curriculum, bullying prevention, and more restorative school discipline practices to prevent student pushout from school. He has a bachelor’s degree in Women and Gender Studies from the University of Vermont and, while he was a student there, helped co-found a national student-run conference on trans/gender identity and trans activism called the Translating Identity Conference. Owen then attended the City University of New York School of Law and has been a licensed attorney in the State of Illinois since 2007. He is a founding collective member of the Transformative Justice Law Project, the former Legal Director of the TransLife Center, and adjunct faculty at DePaul University in Chicago.  Most importantly, Owen is a Pisces with a Cancer rising and Aquarius moon and is the proud parent of Smidge (an Aries Boston Terrier/Chihuahua/Gremlin mix).

Contact Owen for any questions on the Alliance's policy work in schools, advocacy or our restorative justice work. 

Nat Duran (They/ Them/ Theirs)
Youth Engagement Manager

Nat Duran is a compassion-led and dedicated educator focused on community building and social justice across various realms of youth work. They obtained both their B.A. in Teaching of English and M.Ed. in Youth Development from the University of Illinois at Chicago and have been a champion for putting youth voice to action throughout their adult professional life. After a brief stint as a high school English teacher within CPS, Nat spent several years working as youth advocate and case manager for older adolescent wards of DCFS preparing for independence.

Contact Nat with questions regarding our youth organizing work, our Gay/Straight Alliances, or any other youth programming.


AJ Jennings (They/Them/Theirs)
Curriculum and Professional Development Director

AJ’s work is centered on the belief that all students, teachers, and staff must be able to bring their whole self to school in order to be available to learn.  A fierce advocate for supporting gender expansiveness and LGBTQ students, AJ comes to the Alliance with eleven years of teaching experience.  They have a BA in Women’s and Gender Studies from DePaul University and a M.Ed. in Instructional Leadership from University of Illinois at Chicago.  AJ has worked with organizations like About Face Youth Theatre, Lurie’s Children’s Hospital Gender and Sex Development Program, Teachers for Social Justice, Chicago Dyke March Collective, and developed the Queer Teacher Mixer, which supported and connected queer educators in Chicago.  AJ is a rural being at heart and will frolic in nature and make jam any chance they get!

Contact AJ with any questions about training and educational workshops and trainings or for information about inclusive curriculum resources. 

Alexia Rice-Henry (She/Her/Hers)
Operations Manager

At the Alliance, Alexia is responsible for overseeing the management and finances of the office. She has worked with various non-profits throughout the city as a development professional. She currently serves on the board of the Crossroads Fund and was some way convinced to serve as the board president for her sister's Junior Roller Derby League, The Chicago Massacre.

Contact Alexia with questions regarding financial documents, accounts payable, contracts, or organizational opperations.



Elijah Valentin (He/Him/His)
Administrative and Design Coordinator

Elijah first joined the Alliance in January of 2015 as a communications intern and then was promoted to administrative coordinator in November. He was born and raised in Chicago and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from Millikin University. Elijah enjoys a good laugh and his favorite treat are chocolate muffins. 

Contact Elijah for requesting an official Alliance logo and for other administrative needs. 

Jordee Yanez (He/Him/His)
Central Illinois Program Coordinator

In November 2014 Jordee took on the great opportunity provided by the Alliance to live out a life calling (that is not to be confused as work) which is to advocate for LGBTQ rights for our younger generations, to guide them in constructing their futures in environments that are safe, accepting and welcoming of all individual identities while fighting to abolish the school to prison pipeline within our education systems. Jordee is the Alliance’s Youth Justice Coordinator out of the Peoria area, a first time Chicago Marathoner, a self-pronounced TV series marathoner, and a Junkatarian (no meat, but yes to sugary carbs) who holds a B.A. in Justice Studies and Spanish from Northeastern Illinois University as well as an Associate's degree in Criminal Justice from the Community College of the Air Force.

Contact Jordee with questions regarding our downstate work.