Meet Our Training Team

Cynthia founded LifeWays North America in 2001.  Co-author of the book Home Away From Home: LifeWays Care of Children and Families, Cynthia has lectured and presented internationally, directs trainings and seminars across the United States, and is an Adjunct Faculty member at Rudolf Steiner College in California.  She served fourteen years on the board of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America, is a member of the National Association for Family Child Care and a supporter of the Alliance for Childhood.  A former Waldorf Kindergarten teacher, Cynthia received her Waldorf teaching certificate at Emerson College in Sussex, England.  A mother and grandmother, Cynthia’s passion is the preservation of the playful spirit of childhood and helping to create home-like environments that provide the comfort, security and activities found in a healthy home.

Marianne is the Director of the California Coast LifeWays Early Childhood Training. She has been involved in Waldorf education for over 40 years as a mother, early childhood teacher and facilitator of Waldorf parenting groups. She holds a B.A. in English and attended Emerson College in England, a center for Waldorf teacher training.  Much of Marianne’s focus and interest has been on all things early childhood. She was a co-founder of The Ark (Fair Oaks, CA) in 1977, one of the first Waldorf toy stores in North America. The growing interest in Waldorf education in this country led her to become the first Managing Editor of Renewal, A Journal for Waldorf Education. For 15 years Marianne developed and led parent support groups in the Sacramento, CA area and for 8 years she taught in the San Francisco Waldorf School Parenting program.

When her own children were young, Mary had a LifeWays home program with such a long waiting list that she decided a LifeWays center was necessary.  In 2002, she opened LifeWays Early Childhood Center in Milwaukee where she still works alongside a wonderful staff of caregivers.

Mary has a business degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison and was a student in the very first LifeWays training. She is a consultant for LifeWays North America and serves as Board President, directs the Wisconsin LifeWays Training, and in 2010 co-authored Home Away From Home: LifeWays Care of Children and Families with Cynthia Aldinger.

Mary’s favorite thing about LifeWays is seeing both children and their caregivers thrive in a home-like environment that truly values and respects them.

Ashley's life has revolved around working with children and their families.  After growing up in her mother's home care program, she obtained a degree in Art Education and taught in public schools.  During this time, she felt a strong pull towards early childhood education.  She went on to become a preschool teacher, Director of a large childcare center, student of Anthroposophy and Board member for two Waldorf school initiatives (in CO and NC).  Ashley worked at the Santa Fe Waldorf School, was the lead Waldorf early childhood teacher at Azalea Mountain School, led parent-tot classes and operated a home-based LifeWays summer playgroup.  Now homeschooling her two sons, Ashley continues to incorporate her LifeWays work into their daily lives.  She is thrilled to help bring the LifeWays training to western NC, a dream since she completed her training in 2010.  Ashley also enjoys traveling, gardening, hiking, handwork, and shooting slingshots with her husband and boys.

Bianca Lara Amann, San Diego, CA

Bianca began her career in banking and business administration while attending Mira Costa College studying pre-law. With the birth of her eldest son and upon finding a pioneering Waldorf school in her area in 2001, she promptly got involved and obtained a certificate of training for Waldorf Administration from Sunbridge College. She went on to serve in nearly every position available in a Waldorf School from bookkeeper to handwork teacher but found her "home" in the early childhood classrooms. Seeing the lack of Steiner based care for the very young child in the county, she proclaimed that if she ever had another child, she would found a LifeWays center. That day came with the birth of her youngest son in 2007. Bianca completed the LifeWays training at Rudolf Steiner College and founded San Diego's first LifeWays center for young children that same year. 

Bridget Shetty, Student Services Director, Wisconsin

Bridget Shetty is a 2011 graduate of the LifeWays Training in Wisconsin.  She has worked with young children in many capacities, including a degree from UW-Madison in early childhood and elementary education and teaching in mainstream schools for a decade.  After starting a family she found Waldorf education and shortly thereafter discovered LifeWays.  Currently she is a happy homemaker, mastering the domestic arts and establishing family rhythms while taking seriously her role as "first teacher" of her three young children.  Her older two attend Prairie Hill Waldorf School, where Bridget is an active parent in the community.   She is also a Mothering Arts leader in the Milwaukee area, building intimate networks of support for mamas with infants and young children. 

Bridget is an avid gardener and home cook. She loves the woods, taking her children camping as often as possible.  Her dream is to move out of the city, find a small plot of land where she can expand her garden, raise some animals, and give her kids space to roam.

Chinyelu Kunz, Pennsylvania

Chinyelu has been teaching in the Parent-Child and Pre-School program at Kimberton Waldorf School since 2005 and is lead teacher at Kimberton’s Rosebud Garden, a LifeWays Representative Program. She has been involved in Waldorf education for nearly 22 years as a mother and early childhood teacher.  Chinyelu holds a BA in Interior Design and a Master's in Architecture as well as having completed the Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher Training at Sunbridge Institute in Spring Valley, New York, and the LifeWays Early Childhood and Human Development Training.

Chinyelu works with LifeWays North America to develop healthy early childhood programs at Kimberton Waldorf School, as well as training programs for caregivers, parents, and parent educators.  She is very excited to help bring LifeWays training to Kimberton Waldorf School.  She is the proud mother of two Waldorf graduates and a 10th grade daughter who attends high school at Kimberton.

Faith Collins, Colorado

With over a dozen years of working with children, Faith Collins has been an early childhood teacher, co-director of the Rainbow Bridge LifeWays Program, and taught adult classes for parents and daycare providers in the US, England and online. In 2013 she was a keynote speaker at the first LifeWays conference, "Creating a Joyful Life with Children."  She founded her organization, Joyful Toddlers, in 2010 and since then over 200 people have taken her popular six-week tele-class, Joyful Days with Toddlers & Preschoolers

Faith received an MA with Distinction in Early Childhood Studies from Roehampton University, doing original research for her dissertation on toddlers’ involvement in adults’ household tasks.  She lives in Denver with her husband and daughter.  You can learn more about her work at

Laura Cassidy, Maine

Laura Cassidy taught in the Early Childhood Department of Prairie Hill Waldorf School in Pewaukee, WI, for 22 years, 8 of those as a lead kindergarten teacher. She founded the school's "WonderGarden" preschool and taught in the parent-child playgroup, assisted in grade one, and continues to teach calligraphy to sixth graders. She is a core faculty member of the Great Lakes Waldorf Institute for teacher training.

Laura has a B.A. in English, graduated from the very first LifeWays training with Cynthia Aldinger, and took the 3-Year Gradalis Early Childhood Therapeutic Education Course with Bonnie River, Nancy Blanning, and Lori Clark. She is the mother of three grown Waldorf alumni. Laura has a deep love and is inspired by the fairy tales, her work as a calligraphy artist, and the archetypal artist and healer: Mother Nature.

Margo Running, Vancouver, B.C.

Margo Running moved to North Vancouver, BC, Canada from Arizona in 2004. She has a degree in Early Childhood Education and Waldorf training in kindergarten teaching and daycare practices. She has worked with children in summer camps, created a new kindergarten and play yard, and run a home childcare business in Arizona. She came to Vancouver to set up and coordinate the first Infant-Toddler Program in a Waldorf school that goes to grade 12. She is now director of LifeWays Childcare Society, a Representative Center of LifeWays North America and a member of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America. Margo is completing the ECE degree program at Capilano University. Her interests also include communication and relationship models as well as sociology and the culture of childhood.

Rahima Baldwin Dancy, Training Coordinator

Rahima is a founding board member of LifeWays North America and works closely with our training team members to coordinate LifeWays Trainings throughout the country.  She has been involved with Waldorf education since 1980 as an early childhood and parent educator and author of You Are Your Child’s First Teacher, which has been translated into six languages.  She and her husband, Agaf, live in Boulder, Colorado and have raised four children.  Semi-retired now, they are delighted grandparents and happy to continue to support the LifeWays work.

Rena Osmer, Pennsylvania and North Carolina

Rena Osmer, M.A., has been passionate about Waldorf early childhood education since completing her training in 1985, and has taught children, parents, and teachers for many years.  She is keenly interested in innovative ideas and new initiatives and has served the national development of Waldorf early childhood as WECAN Board Member, founding Board member of Sophia’s Hearth, and LifeWays North America Board member. 

Rena’s career began on the eastern seaboard in Wilton, NH at the Pine Hill Waldorf School, the Center For Anthroposophy and Antioch New England.  On the west coast she worked for Rudolf Steiner College as Director of Early Childhood Education and the LifeWays Children’s Center. 

In 2005, Rena moved to the Florida sub-tropics where she currently teaches kindergarten in a new Waldorf initiative, Sea Star School, in Boca Raton.  She continues to mentor Waldorf early childhood endeavors, and teaches at various Waldorf Early childhood training centers in the summer months.

Rosario Villasana, M.A., LifeWays en Español

Rosario Villasana, M.A., is Faculty at City College of San Francisco at the Mission Campus Child Development Center, Adjunct Professor at San Francisco State University and Early Childhood Consultant. She is Community Programs Coordinator for Rudolf Steiner College in Fair Oaks, CA and directs the LifeWays en Español caregiver training program focusing on development of curriculum materials in Spanish and community programs and outreach.  Rosario is President of the Board of Directors of the Alliance for Childhood.  She has conducted training and staff development in Rudolf Steiner based education in China and Mexico as well as throughout the United States.  Rosario is the happy mother of two Waldorf graduates; a son, Eduardo and daughter, Lucia.

A frequent and sought after presenter at the most respected professional conferences, notably NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children), the World Forum and the AERA (American Educational Research Association) as well as universities and colleges in the US, she has travelled internationally presenting in China, Greece, Mexico and Russia. Her primary focus is the Birth to 7 year old child and focus areas include; the Program for Infant/Toddler Caregivers, Rudolf Steiner Pedagogy, The Impact of Media on the Young Child, Environments for Children, Dance and Movement Education, Sensory Integration and Brain Development, and Resource Development for Spanish Trainers.

Suzanne Down, Colorado

Suzanne Down is Director of the Boulder Based Lifeways Training in Colorado.  She has been involved with the early childhood Waldorf movement for 30 years in different capacities - Teaching in early childhood in Waldorf schools, owner of her own home preschool, as Director of Juniper Tree School of Story and Puppetry Arts, as international ece conference speaker and presenter, and early childhood therapeutic puppetry pioneer.  She mentors early childhood teachers in schools and is resident puppetry teacher at the Boulder Waldorf Kindergarten.  She has been teaching language development/story/puppetry in all of the Lifeways training centers for years, and will continue doing that as well as develop and direct the training in Boulder.  Her passions are creativity in the fiber arts, especially all aspects of felting, writing and presenting stories for children, and teaching adults, which has been her specialty for a long time!  

You can follow her work at:

Page Bottom

DONATE TO LIFEWAYS   |   CONTACT US   |   GET OUR NEWSLETTER - BE INSPIRED!  |  Copyright © 2011 Lifeways North America