Photo description: Shanna is standing after completing the Sprint Triathlon, 2009
Photo description: Shanna stands on stages and delivers statement about violence against Women, Feb. 2013
Photo description: Shanna stands in the door of their first classroom teaching in Boston, 2005
In 1997 Shanna endured a terrible motorcycle accident. After three surgeries and varied medical risks, a doctor told Shanna they would never run or dance again, breaking Shanna’s spirit. In 2009, when Shanna’s twins were less than a year old, Shanna suffered a stroke due to a congenital patent foramen ovule. Shanna lost words, memories, and physical abilities. For the second time in their life, Shanna endured a long, painful journey of rehabilitation. A year later, against all odds and medical predictions, Shanna completed a sprint-triathlon in 1:37:07 and was propelled into further growth. Each turn and trauma built Shanna’s ability to believe in the power of resilience and healing.
Shanna is a dedicated advocate, working towards the dignity and livelihood of individuals and communities. Shanna worked for America Reads, volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, and was president of their college chapter of Hillel. Shanna is a vocal activist and community organizer working hard to bring awareness to the plight of violence against women and promote healthy sexuality and gender liberation. Shanna has been active with the Massachusetts Fair Housing Center, Connecticut River Conservancy river clean up events, and Tapestry Health. Currently, Shanna is working to decrease food insecurity and food waste in Northampton and is collaborating with others to bring a community fridge to our town.
Shanna is a seasoned educator with proven experience working with children, youth and adults. After graduating in 2005 with an M.Ed in Special Education from Lesley University, Shanna worked in Boston Public Schools in a substantially separate program, a small class of up to eight students with emotional, behavioral and learning difficulties, who were mostly Black and Brown students bused from Boston neighborhoods . As a first year teacher, they confidently stepped into the open position of teacher’s union representative and organized fellow teachers to strike with the BPS teachers union.
Photo description: Shanna Fishel, and Shai Kuper (They/Them) facilitating a workshop at GLSEN conference, 2019
Later, Shanna gravitated towards sexual justice issues, volunteering for close to five years for the Planned Parenthood hotline, and later completing a graduate-level continuing-ed AASECT-approved program on Sexual Counseling for People with Special Needs. With new knowledge and skills, Shanna entered a decade of work as a private consultant, counselor, and educator in the public and private sector. In addition, Shanna provided trauma-informed counseling for people with functional diversity (i.e., special needs and neurodiversity) who were referred by social services.
Photo description: Shanna is at a counter-Trump stand out in Deerfield, MA holding a sign stating Black Trans Lives Matter, 2020
A life-long learner invested in personal growth, Shanna graduated from Smith College School for Social Work and continues to develop a trauma-informed, strength-based, cultural-relational lens. Shanna, as a licensed certified social worker, is currently providing community outreach services for folx with co-occurring struggles, trauma, and oppression. Shanna integrates their many fields of expertise in order to promote accountability, access, and justice. Shanna continues to be vocal for Harm Reduction strategies and equity on the community level, as they support transparency, personal agency, community accountability, and systematic change.
Shanna and their partner are homeowners in Leeds, where they live with their twins, Freeda the dog, and three cats. Shanna’s mother recently moved in with the family, and she is happy to be with her family. Shanna enjoys reading a good book, baking vegan delights, and is waiting for a time when folx can hug loved ones safely.
Photo description: From left to right - Damian, Oren, Shanna and Tony Fishel, at a Connecticut River Conservancy river clean up event, Florence Fields, 2019