Pollyanna Teen Council connects students with an interest in helping their school build strong and kinder communities, and empowers them to make change in whatever ways are possible.

About Pollyanna Teen Council


The Teen Council consists of 8th-12th graders (13-18 year olds) from across the U.S. who are committed to helping their schools build stronger and kinder. We hold interesting and informative meetings on Zoom. Monthly sessions feature a special guests followed by a themed group discussion centering on ways to improve school communities. Pollyanna Teen Council is led by our incredible students: Aarin, Ally, Arian, Ava, Maya, Mira, Nick and Victor.

Fill out this short form if you’re interested in joining the leadership team for next year.


Become a School Member for School Year 2024-25


Calling all teens and school leaders! Get ready to amplify your teen’s voices at Pollyanna Teen Council meet-ups. We’re launching a School Membership exclusively for the 2024-25 School Year. Teen’s opinions matter, and we’re thrilled to provide a platform where they can share thoughts, ideas, and passions. Join us for informative and exciting monthly meet-ups, specially designed for 13-18 year olds eager to engage in meaningful discussions on today’s most pressing topics.

Here’s the best part: each member school has the freedom to invite as many students as they like, and every student is welcome to attend one or all of the meet-ups! Join us on Zoom from 3PM-4:30PM ET, 12PM-1:30PM PT, for an unforgettable journey of discovery and connection. Plus, rest assured, our sessions are supervised by the dedicated adults of Pollyanna.

Please click here to register your school for the 2024-25 season! 

2024 – 2025 Topics and Special Guests

October 20, 2024: Being Heard and Not Hurt with DEIB Facilitator Jason Craige Harris

November 17, 2024: Coming Out Again and Again with Head of School Frank Patti

December 8, 2024: Metaracism with Author and Professor Tricia Rose

January 26, 2025: Inequalities in Education with CEO of Prep for Prep Ruth Jurgensen

February 23, 2025: How Do You Discern Real News? Special Guest TBA

April 27, 2025: Leading a School with Incoming Head of School Saya McKenna

May 18, 2025: How Powerful is the Teen Voice? Special Guest TBA

2023 – 2024 Topics and Special Guests

October 15, 2023: How to Prioritize Your Mental Health with Dr. Linda Anderson

Dr. Linda Anderson is a highly sought-after clinical psychologist, life coach, and therapist guiding you to enhance your power, achieve your goals, and sustain a happy, healthy lifestyle. Driven to achieve results with flexibility and a cooperative spirit, she possesses the unique ability to engage, encourage, and enlighten with the understanding of how to navigate life’s relationships using the power of mental wellness to engage in successful work-life balance. Her research investigating women’s perceptions of power and their vulnerability to coerced sexual experiences has led her to teach, write, and counsel women from a perspective of critical compassion and empowerment.

At home and on the road Dr. Anderson is often mistaken for the serene beach mama more comfortable in sandals than stilettos. This native New Yorker and nature enthusiast meditates while walking through New York City, taking in nature’s beauty hidden in her urban surroundings. Her approach and look on life leans toward beach aficionado rather than city hustle but don’t be fooled by her ease of style; she is observant and intuitive, and can easily transition into your Tour Guide into Positive Psychology!

Dr. Anderson graduated from Boston University with a double major in Spanish Language/Literature and Psychology and earned her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at Columbia University. She has served as a staff psychologist in the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Beth Israel Medical Center and has taught psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University, Bard College at Simons Rock as well as the City University of New York. She is frequently interviewed for commentary and invited to participate on panels dealing with current critical issues and writes about topics dealing with the psychology of success and cultural diversity. These opinions and profiles continue to appear in popular media outlets and trade journals, such as OWN and Employment Relations Today. Having a long history of inspiring success in others, Dr. Anderson currently teaches, consults and empowers in a manner embraced by a diverse range of individuals and organizations.

December 10, 2023: Is AI Inherently Biased? with Manuela Veloso, Ph.D

A world-renowned expert in the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), Dr. Manuela Veloso was a professor in the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University. She took a leave of absence three years ago to be head of artificial intelligence research at JPMorgan Chase. In this role, she has applied AI to problems in economics, data management, and gender equity.

Manuela Veloso earned her Master of Science in electrical engineering in Lisbon, Portugal, before coming to the United States in 1984 to begin work on a PhD. She made the switch to computer science after she came to see how computers can solve problems for people, a purpose that still resonates for her today.

January 21, 2024: The Importance of Affinity Groups with Trina Moore-Southall

Trina Moore-Southall is the Assistant Head of School for Community and Belonging at Brentwood School in Los Angeles.

“Each year, I attend and look forward to NAIS’s People of Color Conference. It is the only time I sit in a room with other African American educators who also look to recharge. One year, an attendee shared with me that her experience at PoCC convinces her she is not crazy and keeps her from going insane. I feel like a member of a family, and PoCC is the family reunion.” Trina Moore-Southall

To read the entire article, “How Racial Affinity Groups Saved My Life,” click here.

February 25, 2024: LGBTQIA+ Legislation and its Impact in Government and Schools

Kiara St James, the Founder and Co- Executive Director of New York Transgender Advocacy Group, has been at the forefront of the TGNCNB advocacy movement for over 20 years. Kiara was one of the key players in highlighting and helping to change the trans-woman-denying policies that many New York City shelters had. St James also spearheaded the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) in New York State which prohibits discrimination based on gender identity and passed in 2019. She was instrumental in the repeal of a discriminatory statute, Section 240.37 of the state penal law also known as the “walking while trans law”. This statute outlawed “loitering for the purpose of engaging in prostitution”. It was finally repealed on February 2, 2021. She was also a key player in the passing of the Lorena Borjas Transgender & Gender Non-Binary Wellness and Equity Fund which will focus on and function to end the economic crisis presently facing New York TGNCNB communities.

March 10, 2024: The Role Diversity & Equity Play in Art with Angélica Dass

Angélica Dass is an award-winning photographer born in Brazil and based in Spain. Her practice combines photography with sociological research and public participation in global defense of human rights. She is the creator of the internationally acclaimed Humanæ project—a collection of portraits that reveal the diverse beauty of humanity. Her work has traveled to over 50 cities around the world, from PhotoEspaña, to the World Economic Forum (Davos), UN Habitat III, London Migration Museum, AMNH, Montreal Fine arts Museum, Dublin Science Gallery; to the pages of National Geographic, Time Magazine, Foreign Affairs and other relevant media. Her TED Talk exceeded two million views confirming the great potential of her work to go beyond photography, becoming a tool for social change, which promotes dialogue and challenges cultural prejudices.

Angélica’s work transcends the museums and finds in school classrooms a great universe of work. She amplifies the educational message of Humanae through institutional collaborations around the world, such as collaborations with city councils of different cities in the Basque Country, teacher training schools in Madrid, high schools in the Czech Republic, or with UNESCO and the Government of Chile, reaching an impact of more than 50 thousand students in a week.

April 14, 2024: Cultural Appropriation vs. Appreciation with Naledi Semela

Naledi Semela was born in New Orleans, LA. From his earliest days, he was exposed to the teachings and the fellowship of the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, authors of the nationally acclaimed Undoing Racism. He is a proud alumnus of Prep for Prep, Friends Seminary, Colgate University, and the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a master’s in independent school leadership.

Today he serves as the Director of Equitable Practices and Social Impact at the Browning School, a K-12 boys school on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City, and as the founder of Naledi Strategies, where he continues the work of advocating for equity, justice, and belonging for all. Naledi Strategies partners with schools, nonprofit organizations, and others to establish equitable practices and enhance social impact.

May 5, 2024: Making Space for Differing Opinions with Starts with Us

Starts With Us empowers the 87% of Americans frustrated with extreme political and cultural divisions with the skills to engage across our differences and move our country forward. The Starts With Us approach is all about habituating curiosity, compassion, and courage to foster independent thinking and constructive communication across our differences.

Our prior Topics and Special Guests

2022 - 2023 Season

9/17/22 – Everyone Wants to Belong: Being an Advocate, Activist, and Accomplice – Charles Vogl, Author

10/15/22 – Representation & Inclusion in Our School Curriculums – Rodney Glasgow, Head of School

11/19/22 – Celebrating LGBTQIA+ Diversity in Our Schools – Schuyler Bailar, Educator, Author, Advocate

1/7/23 – Religious and Spiritual Diversity in Our Schools – Jason Craige Harris, Educator and Facilitator

2/11/23 – Promoting Free Speech and Equality Values – Olatunde Johnson, Legal Scholar

3/11/23 – Banned Books in School – Christine Emeran, Youth Free Expression Director, NCAC

4/22/23 – Young Leaders and Advocates Make a Difference – Ali Michael, Facilitator and Writer

5/13/23 – Celebrating Advocacy: Shining Light on Artists – King David, Artist

2021-2022 Season

10/9/21 – Teen Pollyanna Kick-Off – Jason Craige Harris, facilitator

11/6/21 – Civic Engagement – DeNora Getachew, CEO dosomething.org

12/11/21 – DEIB Work at our Schools – Erica Corbin, Head of School

1/22/22 – Contributions of Others – Marianne Macrae, Robin Hood Foundation

2/12/22 – Be an Advocate, Ally, Activist – Semeka Smith-Williams, DEI Practitioner

3/5/22 – Having Difficult Conversations – Megan Hogan, Chief Diversity Officer Goldman Sachs

4/9/22 – Pledge Projects –  Scott Warren, Specialist at USAID

5/14/22 – Reflecting and Planning – Bill Konigsberg, author

To learn more about Pollyanna...