Jenna Peters-Golden is an organizer, trainer, anti-Zionist Jewish rabble-rouser and artist with an inexhaustible amount of energy for exploring, taking things apart, and putting them back together. Firmly planted in West Philadelphia, Jenna was raised in southeastern Michigan. Politicized around the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2001, she came out of her shell by way of youth-led anti war organizing. As national intern for the Young Democratic Socialists of America Jenna became committed to radical participatory democracy in all of its forms.
She has organized regionally and nationally for the new Students for a Democratic Society, the Rainforest Action Network and Student Environmental Action Coalition around PowerShift. She has been inspired by working with organizations like Casino Free Philadelphia and the Ruckus Society, and is a member of the political study group Marginal Notes. Jenna is also a core member of Philly Stands Up, a transformative justice collective.
In 2010, Jenna was a recipient of the the Leeway Foundation's Art and Change grant.
Jenna also served as a track coordinator for the Growing Safer Communities Track at the 2011 Allied Media Conference. Jenna has presented at events such as the U.S. Social Forum 2010, NASCO Institute, Communities United Against Violence’s Safety Fest 2011, and the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy 2011.
Currently Jenna’s favorite workshops to facilitate are: Radical Human Resources, Anti-Oppression Meeting Facilitation, Strategic Planning, Anti-Oppression Fundamentals, National Organizing and Large Scale Campaigns, and Democratic Education.
You can contact Jenna at: jenna(at)aorta(dot)coop
Roan Boucher is an organizer, facilitator, writer, and artist currently based in Austin, Texas. He is passionate about grassroots healing and cultural work, transformative justice, and anticapitalist, community-rooted models of resource sharing.
He first become politicized through queer, trans, and feminist organizing, and now finds his political home in broad-based movements for liberation; he believes that all of our liberation is bound up together, and that true social change is a collective process. He works closely with the Bay Area based POOR Magazine, a poor and indigenous people-led grassroots organization, doing economic justice work through art, organizing, grassroots media, education, and multigenerational community building.
In 2008, Roan co-founded the website Enough: The Personal Politics of Resisting Capitalism, a space to share strategies for creating more just and economically sustainable movements, with Dean Spade. Building off the critical conversations Enough inspired, Roan and Dean are now co-editing a new anthology of the same title.
Roan has facilitated workshops and consulted for a wide range of organizations and conferences including Resource Generation, Catalyst Project, the 2010 Making Money for Our Movements Conference, Close to Home, ICC Austin, the Beehive Design Collective, United World College, Quilted Co-op, Madison Community Co-operative, AVODAH, NASCO Institute, and Lucy Stone Cooperative. He worked in food co-ops for five years, most recently at the Mariposa Food Coop in Philadelphia where he co-founded the Food Justice and Anti-Racism working group.
Roan was named one of UTNE Reader's 50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World in 2009 and is featured in the book Do It Anyway: Portraits of the Next Generation of Activists, from Beacon Press. His writing appears regularly in Make/shift Magazine.
You can contact Roan at: roan(at)aortadot)coop
Esteban Kelly is a visionary leader and compassionate strategist who inspires organizers by drawing on science fiction, social theory, and collective liberation. Uniting close friends and long-time co-organizers, Esteban was inspired to co-create AORTA culling together his creative energy and organizational skills for expanding food sovereignty, solidarity economy & cooperative business, gender justice & queer liberation, and movements for racial justice.
Esteban's work is vast. In addition to working for AORTA, he is the Co-Executive Director for the US Federation of Worker Co-ops (USFWC), and a co-founder and current board President of the cross-sector Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA).
Internationally, Esteban has advocated for workplace democracy through the ICA (International Cooperative Alliance) and CICOPA (the international worker co-op federation), and for land reform and other social movements from Canada to Brazil.
After many years as a PhD student of Marxist Geographers at the CUNY Graduate Center, Esteban has left academia with a Masters in Anthropology. Most recently, Esteban worked as Development Director and then Staff Director for the New Economy Coalition. From 2009-2011, Esteban served as Vice President of the USFWC, and a board member of the Democracy At Work Institute (DAWI) and the US Solidarity Economy Network. He is also a previous Director of Education & Training and Board President of NASCO (North American Students for Cooperation) where he was inducted into their Cooperative Hall of Fame in 2011. He currently serves on the boards of the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) and the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA–CLUSA), and is an advisor to the network of artist-activist trainers, Beautiful Trouble.
Firmly rooted in West Philly, Esteban’s skills and analysis of transformative justice stem from his decade-plus of organizing with the Philly Stands Up collective. Similarly, Esteban worked through a major food co-op transition as a worker–owner at Mariposa Food Co-op, where he co-founded its Food Justice & Anti-Racism working group (FJAR) and labored to institutionalize the Mariposa Staff Collective. In light of these efforts, Esteban became a Mayoral appointee to the Philadelphia Food Policy Advisory Council (FPAC), and works to advance education, systemic thinking, and anti-oppression organizing into all of his food advocacy work.
You can contact Esteban at: esteban(at)aorta(dot)coop and follow him on Twitter: @estebantitos
Radicalized through the Unitarian Universalist youth movement as a teenager, Lydia’s politics are grounded in the revolutionary possibilities of transformative love and compassion. Currently splitting her time between Brooklyn and New Orleans, Lydia has organized in various movements for social and economic justice including supporting community-based struggles for affordable housing and prison reform/abolition. She is deeply committed to strengthening solidarity economies and served on the Board of the North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) from 2007-2012.
Additionally, Lydia has brought her leadership towards the anti-racist/anti-oppressive transformation of several organizations including the Young Religious Unitarian Universalists (YRUU), the Oberlin College Student Cooperative Association (OSCA), Common Ground Relief, and NASCO. Most recently she is energized about interrogating and disrupting institutionalized patriarchy within organizations as crucial for collective liberation.
In addition, she dreams of building a radical left intellectualism grounded in and relevant to social movements. To that end, she is actively researching and writing untold stories of Southern antiprison organizing and white anti-racist activism through her doctoral work in Geography and American Studies.
She has facilitated workshops for a range of conferences and organizations including the Allied Media Conference, White Privilege Conference, the National Worker Cooperative Conference, the Liberal Religious Educators Association, Better Future Project, and Madison Community Co-op. Lydia's writing has appeared in Left Turn Magazine, The Indypendent, and Monthly Review.
You can contact Lydia at: lydia(at)aorta(dot)coop
Hello! I am kiran. For over 15 years I have made a life and a living helping people talk to each other about topics that are often uncomfortable, awkward, or taboo, grounded in a politics of liberation, and love.
I have an academic background in brains, neuroscience, education, and art that I find informs my facilitation on a daily basis. Complementary to my work with AORTA, I make potions, draw, cook, and study nutrition, food, plants, and meditation as medicine, and know a fair amount about bodies. I have increasingly been integrating these skills and areas of study into my facilitation and consulting: utilizing visuals to map information and maximize group effectiveness, integrating space for reflection and introspection in workshops, centering my work in love and compassion, using body-based tools to support learning and ease group decision-making, and in general welcoming our whole, messy selves into political work.
After 15 years of involvement in the cooperative economics movement, I have developed a particular passion for working with cooperatives and democratically-run groups, as well as supporting hierarchical groups transitioning to horizontal structures.
For those who are interested, I am South Asian, mixed race, queer, and a gender fluid shapeshifter who comes from an upper middle class upbringing. I have an invisible disability that has largely fueled my health and healing interests listed above, out of a physical imperative.
I recently relocated to West Philadelphia from Oakland, CA, and will be found frequenting both cities throughout the year, like a migratory bird flying West for the winter.
You can contact me at: kiran(at)aorta(dot)coop
Manju Rajendran is the newest member of AORTA as of October 1, 2015. Manju also works for Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe, her family's food justice restaurant in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She presently serves on the national committee of the War Resisters League and as a board member of the ACLU of North Carolina.
Manju brings 22 years of local, state, regional, and national-level experience in liberation education, strategy, fundraising, community organizing, and communications. Her work is grounded in popular education pedagogy. Manju has shared her skills in projects including grassroots organizing efforts, cooperatives, transformative justice experiments, popular education and oral history spaces, environmental justice organizations, progressive publications, and statewide campaigns. She loves how creative resiliency-building, collective healing work, and nourishing meals integrate with social transformation.
Manju is a queer, working class, South Asian immigrant woman who grew up in North Carolina. Her father organized with the local NAACP chapter and her mother was active in public schools, so she was brought up in meetings and community gatherings. She brings an expansive network of intentionally-sustained relationships with peers and mentors with her, especially from across the Southeastern US, and remains accountable to the communities who raised her. She hopes her AORTA work can support participants in planting seeds for strong and joyful futures.
Marc Mascarenhas-Swan was born in England, but has spent the last 17 years in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Marc came up politically in the anti-authoritarian tradition, and has always taken seriously the maxim of the IWW, that we must “build a new world in the shell of the old.”
Marc has many years of experience as a participant, facilitator, educator, and organizer in political collectives, housing cooperatives and squats, worker cooperatives, childcare collectives, and activist groups. Marc was for many years part of the white, anti-racist group Heads Up Collective, which worked to support and develop anti-racist consciousness in mostly white global justice/anti-war sectors, and organized as allies with groups working for social justice in communities of color. He has organized and participated in many multi-racial, feminist, and left study groups to which he owes much of his political development.
Marc has worked for over 20 years as a professional chef, and converted his long term catering business into a worker owned cooperative. He understands that the development of a broad range of locally focused, environmentally sustainable, democratically governed economic entities, both non-market and market oriented, is a crucial step towards a just and sustainable world.
He has two amazing kids that he tries to spend as much time as possible with. He really wishes that he liked to garden.