Alight Is…


Photo of a white woman with short blonde and brown hair looking directly into the camera and smiling

The short version: Alight Coaching and Consulting is Alison Traina, M.Ed., PCC, someone who’s a huge fan of speaking in the first person. I’m a Bay Area-based coach, consultant, and educator who’s committed to creating a more just world for all of us, not just some of us.

One of the through lines of my work and education has been understanding whiteness so I can identify and interrupt white supremacy: in myself, first and foremost, and in the relationships and systems I participate in. I do this work because…

…oppression is optional, full stop.

…I believe Arundhati Roy’s words: “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” I’m ready to midwife the shit out of the incoming world.

…I want to leave a legacy of justice, joy, and liberation that outlives me.

The longer version: I’ve been told “You’re the most emotionally intelligent person I’ve ever met!” more times than I can count. I listen deeply, from a place of curiosity and empathy, and I ask questions that will stop you in your tracks. I tend to notice what others miss, and help people connect the dots between their thoughts, beliefs, goals, and actions. I’m a self-proclaimed curriculum and facilitation nerd: I love curating experiences that move people from inspiration into action. I’ve also been described as “warmly demanding”: I hold my people to high standards while cheering them the fuck on along the way.

So how’d I get to the point of doing this work?

  • Being raised in a church that actually followed Christ set the stage for how I understand community, and what it means to act in service of the greater good.

  • Studying sociology with an emphasis on social welfare, combined with a minor in ethnic studies, gave me an academic understanding of systemic inequality, racism, sexism, so many other -isms, and how oppression impacts the most marginalized among us.

  • Serving with AmeriCorps in East Palo Alto, a largely Black, Latinx, and Pacific Islander community that’s chronically and intentionally oppressed, showed me the staggering, gut-wrenching reality of what I learned in college. Hello, the privilege of not really seeing injustice until I was personally witnessing injustice – even thought East Palo Alto is less than 13 miles from where I grew up.

  • Over a decade of working alongside mostly white service providers in nonprofits that served primarily Black and Latinx youth taught me a lot about how power and privilege negatively impact those who are marginalized (youth, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, those living in poverty, etc.), even when those with dominant identities (adults, white people, service providers, etc.) have the best intentions.

  • Getting a master’s degree in Education, where I focused my studies on learning, diversity, and urban studies, gave me insight into how schools and community organizations both address and replicate oppression, individually and in tandem.

  • Training in coaching and becoming a Professional Certified Coach gave me the tools to both support and challenge clients who seek to live out their anti-racist values in their day-to-day lives.

  • Continued informal learning experiences have helped me expand on what I learned from the above experiences, deepening my analysis and understanding of how oppression works. Also a ton of personal reflection, wrestling, and question-asking.

Some of the people I’m learning from and deeply admire are: Jamie Utt, Michelle Gislason, Desiree Lynn Adaway, adrienne maree brown, Grace Lee Boggs, Ericka Hart, Ebony Donnley, Rachel Cargle, Belma Gonzalez, Tangerine Jones, Leslie Brown, Fred Rogers, Hanne Blank, and Robin DiAngelo. I’ve learned a great deal about navigating my internal landscape and self-fluency from Havi Bell. I’m grateful to Leela Sinha for helping me embrace my intensiveness, and to Danielle LaPorte for the concept of core desired feelings. Fabeku Fatunmise has guided my understanding of both practical magic and running a coherent and ethical business.

I’m irritated-to-infuriated by: spiritual bypassing, #NotAllMen, white people asking people of color to do free emotional or educational labor for them, “but what about Black-on-Black crime?”, TERFs, prisons, borders, the many detrimental effects of capitalism, comedy that punches down instead of up, “I’m not political”, tone policing, respectability politics, cultural appropriation, sex negativity, “sex work isn’t real work”, people who don’t use their turn signals. WE CAN DO BETTER, SO LET’S DO BETTER.

I’m hugely passionate about Cuban salsa dancing, and I can be found getting down on dance floors all around the Bay Area. My motto is: when in doubt, take it to the dance floor.