NOV 2021 | Shivani Chanillo

Image description: Shivani smiles with a big smirk at the camera. They are outdoors with a white door and wall behind them
Image description: Shivani smiles with a big smirk at the camera. They are outdoors with a white door and wall behind them.

Shivani Chanillo (they/them) has been involved with APIENC for about a year and is part of the new Community Safety committee.

Shivani, who identifies as a queer South Asian non-binary person, moved to the Bay Area from Chicago during the pandemic and soon after, joined the Our World, Our Solutions fall fundraising team. Asking for money wasn’t a skill they felt comfortable with, but they joined the team anyway, asking themself, “Why not do what I feel most uncomfortable doing?”

Shivani continued growing within APIENC and remembers the transformative experience of the Asking for Help Workshop series for trans and queer South Asians. They remember the workshop on vulnerability. “It was so powerful to be part of a group of other South Asians, sharing about vulnerability, connecting on the fact that we’ve been cut off from vulnerability, due to culture, traditions and generational trauma. I felt less alone hearing other people’s stories around vulnerability.”

This past summer, Shivani continued growing their involvement with APIENC by joining APIENC’s Queer Leadership Exchange (LEX). They said it was sad that it was largely virtual, but it was great to connect with others across the queer API community and build relationships and skills. It was impactful to hear everyone’s stories, especially older folks, and deepening their understanding of organizing in queer API spaces.

Shivani feels passionate about community safety and working with young people. So many young people experience violence in family, community, and schools, not just at the hands of police. They joined APIENC’s community safety team because they believe in the impact of building skills, mutual aid, political education, and prison abolition work. As a teacher, they’ve worked in heavily-policed schools whose student body were primarily Black and Latinx youth and have seen firsthand how valuable and transformative it is to provide young people with the critical tools they need to disrupt the school to prison pipeline.

“Working with young people is instrumental in helping me understand the kind of person I want to be. It helps me understand what communities I want to be a part of and the change I want to advocate for. It solidified my vision of a liberated world.”

After graduating from college, Shivani taught high school English, was a college counselor, and managed a mentorship program for high school youth. Before APIENC, Shivani was a part of Invisible to Invincible (i2i) and other queer organizing spaces in Chicago. That experience helped them understand queerness as a political identity and how they want to live in the world and what they want to build and be a part of. Currently, outside of APIENC, Shivani does racial justice consulting for nonprofits in the outdoor/environmental field.

Shivani’s most memorable APIENC moment was the vigil back in April that APIENC and other community organizations held in response to the murders of six Asian women workers in Georgia. “It was really powerful on so many levels, to mourn and grieve collectively.”

A couple of fun facts about Shivani: they love to skateboard and have been skateboarding since they were 6. And during the pandemic, they started woodworking and continue to build their woodworking skills to help sustain them emotionally and physically. “Being able to build what I need feels really in line with how I want to move through the world, with intentionality.” They are currently aspiring to build a dining table.