Carlos Saavedra migrated to Boston, MA at the age of 12 with his parents as an undocumented student. At age 16, he became active in the immigrant rights movement fighting for equal access to higher education for undocumented youth and in 2005 became a co-founder of the Student Immigrant Movement of Massachusetts. He learned the foundations of community organizing by training with some of the most achieved organizers, schools of organizers, and organizing masters in the country like Marshall Ganz (Harvard Kennedy School & United Farm Workers), Lew Finfer (PICO National Network), the Industrial Areas Foundation (Saul Alinsky), and electoral organizing schools.

Carlos became the national coordinator for the United We Dream Network in 2009, the first immigrant youth national organization. He led the organizing and campaign efforts that took the network from a loose coalition of 7 organizations to 52 member organizations that were regionally structured in 30 states. After the intense 2009-2010 Dream Act campaign, Carlos was chosen as the 2010 Progressive Activist of the Year by Nation Magazine.

He was key in organizing the End Our Pain and Right to Dream Campaigns (2011-2012) that led to the victory of legal relief for 1.4 million undocumented youth (DACA) – one of the greatest victories in the last 30 years of the immigrant rights movement. In his term as national coordinator, Carlos developed a key mass training and development program for hundreds of young leaders, which trained over 5,000 activists in 4 years.

In his 15 years in the immigrant rights movement, Carlos has worked on legislative, electoral, service providing and rapid response campaigns. For example, in 2007 during a New Bedford raid, in which 361 immigrant workers got detained, he supported the construction of an emergency response alongside the MIRA Coalition.

In 2013, Carlos founded the Ayni Institute to provide training, coaching and incubation of new projects towards social change. The Institute has provided long-term coaching to organizations like Hope not Hate in the UK, the PICO National Network, Dreamers in Mexico, Neighbors United for a Better East Boston (NUBE), and leaders in Spain, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Hungary, France, and Sweden.

Since then, the Institute has trained over 6,000 people in movement building, political education and organizational development. Training program incubation has included the Momentum training, which has deeply impacted the mass protest communities in the US. Other important research and trainings we have developed include the famous Long View (10,000 years of history in 6 days), SWARM (the first major US training about decentralized organization) and Social Movement Ecology (about the deep conflict that prevents movement collaboration).

You can contact Carlos at carlos@ayni.institute