Guayana Páez-Acosta has 20 years of professional practice and a unique set of experiences and skills related to social change, collaborative research, planning and management and institutional partnership building. She holds a Master of Science in Environment and Sustainable Development from University College London, UK, and graduated in Sociology -first in class- from Andres Bello Catholic University, Venezuela.
Guayana’s primary focus has been facilitating institutional collaborations and designing and implementing interventions in support of organizations and field programs that seek to contribute to sustainable development, philanthropy and purpose driven businesses in Latin America.
She is both an experienced leader and a team player, who has held positions with international non-governmental organizations, philanthropic foundation, and scientific institutions in the US and Latin America, including, Avina Americas, Fundación Avina, Conservation International, the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Global Ecology Department-DGE at Stanford University, Fundación Tierra Viva and the Center for Development Studies-CENDES at Venezuela’s Central University. She has also consulted for Ecology & Environment S.A., the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Porticus Latin America, Fundación Avina and UNESCO’s South-South Cooperation and Sustainable Development Program, among others.
During her adult life, she has developed a consistent yoga and meditation practice, which have been catalytical for her experiencing a sense of well-being independent from worldly affairs. Completed Yoga Teacher Trainings under the Sivananda Traditionin 2008and Kula Collective in 2019. In the early 2000s, while developing her yoga practice, she sat in various Vipassana Meditation Retreats in California, and also became familiar with the Buddhist philosophy and teachings. In 2019, she was invited to join the Brahma Kumaris’ “Call of the Time (COTT) Silent Retreat” in NY’s Catskill and was awarded a scholarship by the US-based Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health to participate in the 1st“Women’s Week: The Revolution Within” week-long workshop at the renowned Berkshires Center. There, she practiced under Angela Farmer, whom she’s followed for years and is widely known for her ground-breaking approach, which promotes inner exploration through playful and deeply experiential yoga. Guayana is a certified Reiki practitioner and an enthusiast reader of epigenetics and neuroscience. A yoga program or session facilitated by Guayana usually weaves intentionality and focused attention with breathwork, movement and relaxation.
With 20 years of professional experience and 14 years studying & practicing yoga, as a self-transformation method and later on conducive to her own spiritual practice, she founded and leads Athena–Lab for Social Change– crafting inner and outer journeys for a more sustainable future, a social business that promotes the wellbeing & sustainable development connection in the Americas by fostering strategic alliances and forward-looking projects under innovative approaches and provides qualified advice and services to businesses, non-profits and philanthropies. “We envision a world where every individual is inspired to act deliberately, out of courage and deep listening, to advance a positive impact on the lives of others and our life-sustaining systems”.
Through Athena – Lab for Social Change, Guayana also seeks to make accessible the power of yoga practice for personal transformation to peoples from all walks of life who want to contribute to positive social change within their surrounding communities, cities, regions and the world. She is convinced that “inner exploration, focused attention and the ability to be Present in the Present are not only vital qualities personally, but essential to our lives as professionals and part of collectives if we are to substantially and effectively transform our shared world”.
Guayana strongly believes that “as a species, living more sustainably will only be possible if we develop more intimate, meaningful, authentically personal ways of connecting to ourselves, our fellow human beings, our surroundings, and the Earth. A sense of wholeness and purpose then unfolds that makes us receive with gratitude the opportunity of being alive and that impels us to give back”.