Ayni began in 2013 as Movement Mastery, a training institute dedicated to providing high-quality training to low-income community organizers and activists. We have supported thousands of changemakers in unearthing their unique purpose and the forces that keep them from living it. We noticed that when changemakers are immersed in a truly supportive community, they have breakthroughs which carry them beyond the fictions we have inherited about ourselves and our world, making way for fresh visions and strategies.
As we experienced these breakthroughs, we saw patterns emerging: social change leaders were often stepping up, at the deepest level, to affirm aspects of our identities that have been devalued or erased. Many of us have been reaching, through social movements, to reclaim our histories, our culture, our need to learn and grow and contribute. In seeing these patterns emerge, we realized that they were an index, of sorts, for perspectives or practices that have supported life on this planet for thousands of years. We eventually named these the 7 values below:
- Learning & Craft
- Long View
- Culture & Identity
- R3: Respect, Relationality, Reciprocity
- Popular Movements
- Swarm: Decentralized Organization
- Mass Training
Transitioning from Movement Mastery to Ayni in 2015 meant putting these values at the center of everything we do. We transitioned from focusing exclusively on training to establishing core teams of people dedicated to these values.
Learn more about what we do.
Carlos Saavedra migrated with his family from Lima, Peru to Boston at age 12. After many years of being undocumented and looking for a way to create change, Carlos was co-founded the Student Immigrant Movement, a statewide organization of undocumented students that fought for their educational rights and against deportations and confronted the governor around educational rights. After facing the slowness of state change and the continuous pain of the migrant community (as witnessed in the 2007 raids in New Bedford, Massachusetts), Carlos and other leaders across the country co-founded the United We Dream Network, where he became the National Coordinator. Traveling 20 out of 30 days each month, Carlos and his team trained 4,000 people, building the organization from 7 loose groups to 60 affiliates in over 30 states. In 2012, after many campaigns, the DREAM movement won Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), a policy that resulted in legal relief for 1.7 million undocumented youth. Having grown the immigrant youth movement to scale using a highly effective model, Carlos stepped back from the national immigrant youth network in 2013 to support a range of social movements through the medium of training.
Lissy Romanow is a trainer and coach with a background in community organizing. She came to Ayni through her passion for learning and the dream of a movement school, a place where people of all ages could come together to recover their creativity and chart a truer course. Lissy supports the creation of training content for Ayni and organizes with If Not Now along with other efforts in her community in Boston.
Apinya Pokachaiyapat brings a diverse range of studies and experiences to her role as Ayni's Director of Operations. Born in Thailand, she came to the US to attend school at age twelve. She holds degrees in mathematics, civil engineering and creative writing. She is also a long-time Vipassana meditator and yoga practitioner. She completed her teacher training at Yoga Works in 2006 and continues to explore other somatic practices and studies such as the Feldenkrais method, conscious dance practices and somatic yoga therapy training. In 2009, Apinya merged her passion and experiences into action and founded RakSa, a healing center providing a sacred space for community and healing through transformative education, movement awareness, whole foods and holistic medicines. She continues to facilitate collective healing through Relational Uprising, an organization that promotes interdependence and compassion in social movements.
The Center for the Working Poor
Led by Paul Engler, the Center for the Working Poor is an intentional community that supports organizers in seeding popular movements.
The Relational Movement
The Relational Movement is a group of leaders who are strategically building a culture that supports life.
Our friends from the popular band, the Flobots, founded this group to bring music back into our movements.
If Not Now
If Not Now is the next wave of Jewish leaders who will end U.S. Jewish support for the occupation of Palestine.
The Watershed Center
The host of many of our trainings, the Watershed Center is a resource and retreat center for changemakers.
Movement Netlab teaches how strong, open networks can be harnessed to make transformational change.
East Point Peace Academy
Led by our brother Kazu Haga, East Point Peace Academy has a 250-year plan to change the world. Grounded in the principles of Kingian nonviolence, their trainings are led by people who want peace and have become scientists of conflict toward that end.
Safe Spaces for Advancement of Community & Equity
One of the best facilitation groups in the U.S. (And this is coming from a group of people that facilitate everyday.)
Neighbors United for a Better East Boston (NUBE)
Led by Gloribell Mota, NUBE is a neighborhood organization that is using innovative tools to improve the quality of life of East Boston residents.
Led by Patricia Montes, Centro Presente is the oldest Latin@ organization in Massachusetts. Centro works hard for the immigrant community and develops the leadership of Latin@s from across the state.
Former Ayni trainer, Kate Werning, is currently leading the organizing efforts here. Integrating personal transformation and wellness into social movement culture, and calling the wellbeing community to join in movements for social change to democratize wellbeing for all people.