Staff and Board


michael munsonmichael munson

Executive Director

michael munson is the co-founder and Executive Director of FORGE, an organization focused on improving the lives of transgender individuals by building stronger connections, providing resources, and empowering growth through knowledge. His educational background is in psychology, with an emphasis in trauma. munson’s work on violence against transgender and gender non-conforming individuals is groundbreaking, stressing the intersectionality between complex components of identity, experience, and societal constructs that both spur violence, as well as catalyze healing for individuals and communities. He is passionate about engaging professionals to embrace these complexities and learn key skills to better serve their constituents.

michael munson CV

Loree Cook-Daniels

Program and Policy Director

Loree Cook-Daniels is the Policy and Program Director for FORGE, a Milwaukee-based national transgender and SOFFA (Significant Others, Friends, Family and Allies) organization. Cook-Daniels has been a policy analyst and advocate for LGBT issues for more than 40 years, and began working on anti-violence issues in the 1980s. With degrees in Women’s Studies and Conflict Management and a Certificate in Trauma Counseling, Cook-Daniels provides training, technical assistance, and/or services to transgender sexual violence survivors and the professionals who serve them under grants from the U.S. Office of Violence Against Women.

Loree Cook-Daniels – CV

Shelley Gregory

Strategic Project Coordinator 

Shelley is a trans human, activist, and advocate, and the Strategic Project Coordinator for FORGE. Shelley has worked actively in the LGBTQI+ community for over 25 years and began to focus their work on advocacy for transgender and non-binary folx nearly two decades ago. Their background is as a civil rights lawyer, having spent a dozen years working in San Francisco representing underserved plaintiffs in labor and employment law matters and advocating to expand legal protections and improve quality of life through policy reforms.

Shelley continues reform work on state and local levels, and also directly supports those transgender and non-binary individuals seeking a wide variety of services and resources, furnishes assistance to providers seeking to better serve our communities, and offers a range of informational and educational sessions for general and specialized audiences alike.

Shelley received a law degree in 2001 from Harvard Law School; they returned home in recent years to the Midwest.

Anole Halper

Creative Content Coordinator

Anole Halper, MSW, MPH is a genderqueer social worker, writer, poet, and obsessive creative project-maker. An alum of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, they are based in the triangle of North Carolina. They are dedicated to individual and collective healing from trauma and violence, and have worked in many areas of the field, including grassroots restorative justice processes, support group facilitation, training, program design, and evaluation.

Tristen Taggart

Trans Youth and Trauma Specialist

Tristen Taggart is a trans antiviolence activist pursuing their Bachelor’s Degree in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies and Political Science with a concentration in Civil Rights at Virginia Commonwealth University. Tristen joined FORGE as a Policy and Programming Intern in 2018 and now works as the Trans Youth and Trauma Specialist. Tristen is a queer survivor, scholar, community activist, and direct-support volunteer with an evolving academic focus on the body politics of sexual violence, resistance, and healing. They are thrilled to bring their passion and curiosity to FORGE from their hometown in Richmond, Virginia.

Board of Directors

Trystan Cotten, PhD

Trystan Cotten’s current positions are Associate Professor of Gender and African American Studies at California State University, Stanislaus and Managing Editor of Transgress Press. He travels extensively around the world speaking on trans identities and issues. His current research deals with gender, race, and migration in the African Diaspora. He has edited five books and written numerous articles on these issues. His most recent publications are: Hung Jury: Testimonies of Genital Surgery by Transsexual Men (Transgress Press 2012) andTransgender Migrations: The Bodies, Borders, and Politics of Transition(Routledge 2011).

Abel Knochel, PhD

Abel Knochel brings a background in community organizing, training, and education combined with LGBT aging work to the FORGE board. Ze has been published in several academic journals focusing on issues affecting older LGBT people and is the chief designer behind Training To Serve, a workshop for aging services professionals to learn how to serve older LGBT clients. Abel is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at Augsburg College in Minneapolis.

Shannon Minter, Esq.

Shannon Price Minter is a transgender man and a long-time advocate for the transgender community. He is the Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), one of the nation’s leading advocacy organizations for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Minter was the lead counsel for same-sex couples in the landmark California marriage equality case. He has represented transgender people in marriage, custody, employment, prison, asylum, and school cases. Minter is the co-editor of Transgender Rights and the co-author of Family Law for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People.

Minter serves on the boards of Equality California, Faith in America, Gender Spectrum, and the Transgender Law & Policy Institute. He has previously served on the American Bar Association Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Minter received his J.D. from Cornell Law School in 1993. He is originally from Texas and currently lives with his wife in Washington, D.C.

Barbara Richards

Barbara Richards has an extensive background in peace and social justice work, beginning with her tenure in the Peace Corps. She has worked on health care reform and foreclosure campaigns, as well as electoral canvassing. A lifelong educator, Barbara has worked in the Milwaukee public schools since 1985. She is committed to finding ways to best communicate and educate information that will engage the listener and encourage them to participate in improving the world we live in.

Neela Taub

Neela Taub has been on the board of FORGE from the beginning. A strong background in business administration and legal issues, Neela brings a set of analytic and critical thinking skills that provide support to the implementation of FORGE’s workplan. Her detail-oriented approach is instrumental in development and review of FORGE’s contracts and grant proposals. As the board shifts from support to governance planning, Neela’s institutional memory ensures continuity in board development and information regarding the administrative end of FORGE’s work.

Key consultants

Reilly, Penner & Benton, LLP – Accounting Team

Dawn Sword (Serendipity Creative, LLC) – Web and Graphic Designer

Danni Green – Transcription and Accessibility Specialist

lore m. dickey – Research Consultant

Alex Kapitan – Copy Editor