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Who We Are


I am because we are

Pachaysana is a collective of Ecuadorian and international educators, nature restorers, teaching artists, and community organizers.

We bring together our diverse knowledge and experiences to re-imagine the dominant models of education and land use in our world. We create just alternatives through innovative educational and environmental programming.

What We Do



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Education is created, not received.  


We explore and transform conflicts through an ongoing and creative dialogue among diverse voices with the ultimate goal of liberating ourselves from systemic and embodied injustices. We do this by co-constructing educational spaces of community, creation and celebration where true dialogue takes place. This dialogue is rooted in humanizing methodologies such as theater of the oppressed, popular pedagogy, decolonizing education, and art for social change.


We strive to constantly re-imagine what education can be, and how it can incentivize social justice. We do this through various educational programs, such as: semester-long study abroad, short-term study abroad, and Unlearning workshops, webinars and consultancies. We interconnect local and global realities, theory and practice, and the university and the community. Local, Ecuadorian partner communities are key participants and co-creators of all our programming. 


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Live with the forest, not from the forest.  

We believe that Environmental Justice is only possible if we change how we perceive and relate to our environment. A sustainable life on this planet will never be feasible as long as we treat forests, mountains and rivers as "natural resources." We must learn from other ways of knowing and see (and feel) them as our homes, our relations, our ancestors, or as part of ourselves. In this way, we transition from living from the forest to living with the forest, or some would even say to living as the forest.


In this sense, we are re-designing what ecosystem restoration means. We are part of the ecosytem and that means we must restore ourselves just as much as we restore a forest. We call it "re-storying" ourselves and the planet. Our Humans for Abundance program links local restorers with co-restorers from around the world to create healthier ecosystems and community livelihoods. Our Forest School program combines ancestral and traditional schooling, training local youth to be the leaders of the restoration movement. 

our name
our values

our vALUES

Pluriversality. We are co-designers of the pluriverse, where multiple ways of understanding the world, of knowing, and of being are valid and valued. We reimagine diversity as pluriversity, treating others as they want to be treated and celebrating marginalized voices. 

Balance. We are constantly seeking balance, a creative process realized in interconnection with all living beings. 

Justice. We seek to dismantle oppressions and create just alternatives. Our resistance is rooted in collective creation. We act in solidarity, recognizing that our struggles and movements are interwoven. 

Celebration. We party in community. If there isn’t dancing, it isn’t revolution. 

Pachaysana Values

our name

Our name, Pachaysana, is the fusion of two Kichwa words: Pacha means World (Earth, or the continuum of Time & Space) and Aysana means Balance.


The name is indicative of our values: we seek to create a world in balance. For us, this world is rooted in justice and created through a collective process with all living beings. To create a more balanced world, we must first create more just and balanced relationships.

Mission Vission

our Mission & Vision

M   To reimagine education and environmental justice as collective creations to foster liberation and unlearn embodied and systemic injustice

V     To be a driving force in the minga* of interconnected community struggles, linking together the local, the global and the natural world for collective liberation

*Minga is an ancestral form of community work that originated in the Andes & is rooted in collective wellbeing and reciprocity, rather than monetary compensation. It comes from the Kichwa term, "Maki Puray" or "lending a hand."

Our Team

our team

Executive Director

Daniel Bryan, Pachaysana Director

An educator, activist and artist, Daniel specializes in the use of participatory theatre as a means of education and conflict transformation. Originally from the United States, he has lived the last 24 years in Ecuador, where he has worked with Indigenous and other frontline communities in both rural and urban sectors. In addition to teaching regularly in Pachaysana’s Rehearsing Change program, he is an active scholar-practitioner of Participatory Action Research, for which he applies a narrative/arts-based approach to co-generating knowledge with local communities.

In addition to his work in Ecuador, he regularly lectures and leads workshops at universities across the United States, most often focusing on Unlearning, Decolonizing Methodologies/Pedagogy, Epistemological Pluralism and Theatre for Social Change. He has been a visiting professor, lecturer and scholar-in-residence at several institutions, most recently as a Visiting Professor and Baker Fellow in Peace and Conflict Studies at Juniata College, Instructor in Graduate Education Studies at Providence College and a Maxwell Scholar at Washington and Jefferson College. He also regularly teaches at the University San Francisco de Quito. Previously he co-founded the internationally renowned cultural educational organization, Fundación Quito Eterno, and lectured/researched under a Fulbright Scholar Grant in Quito. He holds an MA in Education from the University of Tulsa and an MFA in Theatre from UCLA. 

Director of Research and Development

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María José Iturralde, better known as Chochi, is a passionate Ecuadorian social entrepreneur and educator working since 2017 to increase the biodiversity and balance of key ecosystems as much as the wellbeing of their human inhabitants, especially those from vulnerable Indigenous communities. She is the director of Pachaysana’s project Humans for Abundance which focuses on opening up new paths for people to access a better life while contributing positively to their environment.


At the beginning of her career as an educator, she learned what causes human beings to behave the way they do and the support that people need in order to switch negative behaviors into positive. She is now applying this knowledge into the environmental work she does with marginalized communities in the Amazon Rainforest and other areas of Ecuador. This work has taught her that environmental justice cannot exist without social justice, which is the reason she designed Humans for Abundance’s social approach to environmental restoration.

Community Coordinator

Daniel "Millaghe" Acosta - Pachaysana community coordinator

Daniel was born in Ecuador, where his parents instilled upon him the importance of working with the communities of his country. A communication specialist, community activist, and defender of Mother Earth, Daniel’s mission is to work with the children and youth, sharing the wisdom of the communities' elders to help bring them into a more intimate relationship with the earth, agriculture and the protection of seeds.He lives in Santa Teresa de Pintag where his community projects crossover between art, liberation pedagogy and agro-ecology. He is currently carrying out a "Land Bank" 

project, which seeks to create a greater awareness of local identity and the preservation of ancestral lands in Píntag. Somewhat of an Andan renaissance-man, Daniel has studied, both formally and informally, Communication, Political Law, Global Education, Local Empowerment, Theatre, Film, Permaculture and Agroecology. 

Daniel works closely with our partner communities to coordinate the Rehearsing Change program and provide support for our many grassroots development and education projects.He also coordinates aspects of our coursework, assuring that they are effectively applied to community needs. Finally, Daniel assists with instruction in our Identity and Place and Design and Evaluation of Projects courses, which are currently based on working with theories of permaculture.

Resident Director

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Sarah Lyon is an Art Historian who specializes in contemporary Andean textiles; she graduated from Williams College with a BA in Art History and a concentration in Latin American Studies. She is currently completing a master’s degree in Cultural Studies with a focus on Cultural Policy at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar in Quito, Ecuador. Using decolonial and participatory action research methods, she has been studying the collective rights that the Quechua weavers of Cusco have to the intellectual property of their textiles.

While originally from the US, Sarah has worked and studied in Ecuador and Peru for nine years. In Peru she was the Coordinator of the Education Department at the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco (CTTC), a non-profit founded and run by indigenous women where she continues to serve as board member. With CTTC, Sarah often served as a bridge between cultures, organizing projects that involved people from many different walks of life. Situated in this frontier position, she was forced to recognize the stereotypes, stigmas, and professional superiority that both national and international partners assumed when working with the weavers. Such experiences inspired Sarah to come to Quito and study alongside scholars and students from across Latin America. With Pachaysana she hopes to guide students in purposeful study with the Global South as opposed to treating the region as an object of investigation.

Assitant Administrative Director

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Andrés is, by profession, an accountant, but is truly a jack of all trades. Originally from the city of Tulcán in the province of Carchi in the north of Ecuador, he currently lives in Puembo on the outskirts of Quito where he is a student at the Universidad Central del Ecuador. Andrés is finishing the final semester of his Accounting and Auditing major and is excited to bring his new skills to working with community organizations. His passion for local, grass-roots collectives led him to participate in forest restoration projects with programs such as Humans for Abundance (H4A) where he has been 

 involved in both the administrative and accounting side as well as the sociocultural side, working alongside members of the Mushullakta community located in the Upper Amazonian province of Napo. With H4A Andrés has been managing and coordinating reforestation efforts for more than three years. He has also worked with community leaders in Mushullakta to teach them how to manage their accounts, a computerized system for their finances, and how to manage the finances of the Forest School for community children. Apart from H4A, Andrés has also worked on the accounting and administrative end of such organizations as Terraformation.


Besides his office skills, Andrés is also a skilled - and self-taught - carpenter. When not working alongside community members or the Pachaysana team on administrative issues, Andrés is happy making furniture for community spaces. Many of his chairs, tables and desks now grace the new community café and Forest School classroom in Mushullakta.

Research Coordinator

Belen Norona - Research Coordinator Pachaysana

Belén is Assistant Professor of Human Geography at Penn State University. She is a scholar, activist, and educator with fifteen years of experience working with rural and indigenous communities in social development and educational projects in Ecuador. After concluding her Ph.D. in Human Geography from the University of Oregon, she worked as a post-doctoral Mellow Foundation Fellow gearing her research towards a better understanding of race and gender violence in the Amazon region, and then as a World/Just Transformations Postdoctoral Scholar at Penn State

University, where she collaborated with Indigenous and rural women resisting oil extraction in the Amazon of Ecuador. These collaborations bridged marginalized communities with a wider public interested in social and epistemic justice. 

Belén’s research engages Indigenous and rural epistemologies as educational methodologies to make evident the ways in which situated bodies, Indigenous knowledge, oil infrastructure, and grassroots struggles are embedded in larger hegemonic socio-spatial realities and dynamics. As Pachaysana's Research Coordinator, Belén is applying her work to Pachaysana’s educational model and will be making the results available to both U.S college students and rural communities in Ecuador. This collaboration includes the participation of students and community members in activist research, and it also focuses on improving teaching methodologies among Pachaysana's educators. 

She has taught for Beloit College, The University of Oregon, and the Universidad San Francisco de Quito. Belén is a co-founder of the Pachaysana Institute and the Quito Eterno Foundation

Workshop Facilitator

Chelsea Viteri, Pachaysana Resident Director

Activist, educator, youth worker, and artist at heart, Chelsea Viteri was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador. She completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts with a major in Theater Arts and a minor in International Development. Her Masters’ degree is in Community Development and Planning. Currently she is the Program Coordinator for the Global Studies program at Washington University in St. Louis

A youth worker and community organizer for 15 years, Chelsea has worked with diverse communities in both

Ecuador and the United States, utilizing artistic expression, including theatre, music, poetry and documentaries, as a means for collective empowerment and creative conflict transformation. Chelsea is also active as a scholar-practitioner. Her earlier work focused on the gendered impacts of extractive industries in communities of Latin America. Most recently she led Pachasyana's projects in Participatory Action Research, co-authored research on Decolonizing Risk Management and developed Pachaysana’s gender and transformative justice policies. 

our Board Members

Daniel Acosta,

Chelsea Viteri,
Vice President

María Belén Noroña

Daniel Bryan

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