Belia Mayeno Saavedra – Program Manager

Belia Mayeno Saavedra (she/her) is a politicized somatics coach + practitioner, grand/daughter, auntie, sister, homegirl and Madrina. She was born and raised in Lisjan Ohlone homelands (now sometimes referred to as Oakland and Berkeley, California), and is shaped by her formal and informal education in Tongva/Kizh territory (sometimes called Los Angeles) and central Lenapehoking (sometimes called New York City- particularly Queens and the Bronx.) She was trained in politicized somatic practice and methodology by Oakland’s generative somatics, beginning in 2015.

At her back is 9 years as a Restorative Justice trainer and circle-keeper, in both schools and juvenile court diversion contexts. Belia has several decades of experience doing youth development, program design and education work, with a focus on incarcerated youth, commercially sexually exploited girls, and survivors of violence. She is a certified rape crisis counselor and Los Angeles County certified mediator. Before her journey in conflict healing and transformation began, she worked as a journalist and producer, and was awarded an Ed Bradley Award from the Radio and Television Digital News Association, a Gracie Award from the Alliance of Women in Media, and was on production teams collectively awarded a duPont Columbia Silver Baton for Excellence in Journalism and a Peabody. She credits this early training for inspiring her love for the sacred act of story sharing that endures to this day.

In addition to her work at Strozzi Institute for Somatics, Belia serves her Lukumí spiritual community as a priest of Oshún Ibu Anya (initiated in 2008 by Igbin L’ete and Odu F’ora.) She is also an accomplished ceremonial beadwork artist and a very big fan of very little dogs.