About Us

Mission: Chicago Desi Youth Rising (CDYR) seeks to empower Chicago youth to combat racial, economic, and social inequity. CDYR is a weekend summer leadership retreat for youth ages 15 – 21 who trace their heritage to South Asia and the diaspora, and who want to grow as changemakers. Participants draw upon their diverse experiences and intersectional identities while they examine and challenge the underlying causes of their communities’ problems and conditions to become agents for social change.

Vision: During the 3-day retreat, youth will engage in experiential, hands-on, and interactive workshops that aim to:

  1.  Connect their personal identities as South Asian youth to social movements
  2. Highlight how systems of oppression shape our world and individual experiences
  3. Foster a sense of belonging and solidarity across intersectional identities
  4. Provide mentorship
  5. Build the technical knowledge and skills needed to create social change, such as critical thinking, communication, leadership, advocacy, and community organizing
  6. Set them up for action

We welcome adoptees, desis of mixed heritage, any immigration status, all LGBTQTSIS youth, and residents of Chicago and Chicagoland suburbs.

To learn more about how we work click here.

Organizing Collective 

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Viveka Ray-Mazumder (Vi) is a 1.5 generation Bengali American youth worker and community organizer who is excited to be working with CYDR this year.  Vi is a transnational adoptee who grew up in New York in the wake of 9/11.  This catalyzed Vi to become active around issues of racial justice, youth empowerment, and prison abolition.  Currently, Vi runs a program called KINETIC for immigrant and refugee youth in Chicago Public Schools through Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Chicago.  Vi is a former collective member of the Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois, a current core member if i2i: Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Chicago, and serves on the Advisory Council of the Journal of Critical Scholarship on Higher Education and Student Affairs. Vi is passionate about using art as a tool for social change, and building strong communities and chosen families. Vi holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Middlebury College.

HinaHina Mahmood is a Program Officer at Woods Fund Chicago. She is committed to making philanthropy work for and with communities in true partnership. While currently working in the field of philanthropy, her roots are in community organizing and public service. She served as an Education Organizer at Organization of the NorthEast and Grow Your Own Coordinator at Northeastern Illinois University. She also has experience in the public sector, having served as the Infrastructure and Social Service Coordinator for 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore. She received her Masters from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. Hina serves on Chicago Freedom School’s Board of Directors, is a Collective Member of Chicago Desi Youth Rising, and is a co-chair for the Chicago Chapter of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy.   

babyshowerglamshot (1)Aysha Mahmood is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the Coordinator of Outpatient Mental Health at Pillars – a community-based mental health service provider. She provides individual and family therapeutic services, specializing in trauma focused care, parent engagement and positive youth development. She has extensive prior experience working with youth, as an educator and mentor. Aysha received her bachelors degree in Political Science from Northwestern University and went on to work on U.S.-Middle East relations at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. She holds an MSW from the University of Michigan, where she was the recipient of the Detroit Clinical Scholars Fellowship – a program focused on providing mental health services to underserved racial and ethnic minority youth. Aysha also serves as a coordinator for the Muslim Mental Health Conference, a program aimed to raise awareness for the mental health care needs of Muslim Americans.

Sophia Zaman is proud daughter of her Bangladeshi mother, who taught her to always seek 18275249_10209630315771623_5082068727265421315_n (1).jpgjustice and live purposefully. As a volunteer during the 2014 CDYR retreat, Sophia was deeply moved by the collective’s mission to activate South Asian youth by challenging anti-blackness & the myth of the model minority, and empowering them with the skills and relationships to uplift our communities. She brings over 5 years experience in the student movement, organizing for racial, gender and economic justice, most recently as President of the United States Student Association, where she represented 1.5 million college students at the White House and in Congress. Currently, she serves as Executive Director of Raise the Floor Alliance, a worker center collaborative advancing justice for low-wage workers. Sophia is a fierce believer in grounding rituals to sustain movement work, so during her downtime you will usually find her nurturing her flora, experimenting in the kitchen, or doodling with mehndi.


Nashiha (Nash) Alam is a Bangladeshi Muslim organizer and creative in Chicago living, breathing and day dreaming about liberation.  She owes her own politicization to Palestinian resistance leaders who organized her to lead campaigns calling for divestment from Israeli occupation in American universities, locally and nationally.  
Rooted in community, her organizing seeks to center directly impacted youth leaders in diasporic communities, while working on domestic and international issues, from divestment from Israeli occupation, language access in public schools, to the demilitarization of schools.  As an office manager at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago, she understands the versatility of the work needed to chip away at the foundations of injustice, and is committed to showing up in movement spaces.  She graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2016 with a BA in Gender Studies and is a “Chicago Women & Femmes to Celebrate” 2017 honoree.

Sania Kanji is a proud first generation student studying Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago and will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in 2021. Sania’s first encounter with organizing and exploration of the depths of her South Asian identity came from her experience as a participant in CDYR’s 2016 retreat. Her time as a participant taught her to be critical about her privilege and role as a South Asian person in the United States. CDYR has also helped her find her passion for youth empowerment. Ever since, she has been working closely with Asian American Advancing Justice – Chicago’s youth program, KINETIC, to work with and mobilize other Chicago youth that care to make an impact within their communities.

Tanvi Singh is an undergraduate student at Roosevelt University studying Mathematics and Social Justice Studies, and will graduate in the Spring of 2019. As a participant in the 


2017 CDYR retreat, they were inspired to be able to share space with such a beautiful community. Tanvi began organizing in high school, and has since been invested in the power of community building and direct action to disrupt oppression. They are
passionate about youth mobilization to address systemic violence in our communities, and in solidarity with other communities. Tanvi currently works as an Undergraduate Research Fellow at the Policy Research Collaborative at Roosevelt University, and is interested in the use of mathematics in research to advance justice.
Bindu Poroori is a Chicago-based poet, musician,cultural producer, and organizer from Chennai, India. Her work deals with South Asian diasporic art traditions and identities, and with coordinated political action as an intentional process/outgrowth of art-making. 

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When she’s not working as a Program Coordinator at Illinois Humanities, you can catch her manifesting as a curator with Salonathon and Art, Now. Act, Now.; performing throughout the city independently and with her collective LEELA, and having strong opinions about mac and cheese.



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