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Discover insights and stories about how community residents are coming together to drive positive change on our most pressing issues.

Member Spotlight: Aisha Donna


Cat Green


May 22, 2024

 Right now, the average market rate for a one-bedroom apartment in Boston is over $3,000. Add to that the rising cost of food and utilities, and it’s plain to see that Boston has an affordability crisis. Aisha Donna (Housing ‘21) knew how serious this inequality was, but where does someone even start doing something about it? For Aisha, the answer was simple: find communities of change in Boston and collaborate.

In 2021, Aisha moved back to Boston after spending several years abroad. She knew she was passionate about civic engagement, but wanted to learn more, and that’s when she found GenUnity. As a fellow in the Housing Justice Program, Aisha learned about the power of collaboration: “[The program] showed me how much agency there is.” Her time with GenUnity also supported her in seeking to make change afterwards: “It helped me feel confident in different environments because I know I play a part in the community.” 

But how to transform that confidence into action? For Aisha, the answer was political action. With some of her GenUnity cohort-mates, Aisha canvassed for the first time in 2021, going door to door in Roxbury to speak on the upcoming election. When Mayor Wu won that election, Aisha “came to realize the power of democracy in shaping our communities.” Since then, she’s been a powerful advocate for voter registration, which she says “is not just about numbers, but awareness.” In her community, Aisha helps lead others to civic engagement both by helping them register to vote, and by sharing information about elections and other political initiatives. 

Aisha is always looking for new ways to stay informed and connect with other changemakers. Last year, she was selected to be a member of Boston’s SPARK Council, a civic engagement council for young Bostonians to engage with city policy. As a member of the Council, Aisha has collaborated with activists, educators, city representatives, and residents to address policy on a myriad of issues. She says that “SPARK taught me to analyze systemic challenges and take steps towards dismantling silos.” By connecting with her community through SPARK, Aisha is furthering the same collaborative goals she’s been working towards for years.

Aisha says that Boston’s most pressing issue is the affordability crisis, but underlying that, she believes there’s a crisis of apathy, with many young people leaving the city after graduating from university. Aisha believes there's an opportunity for “young people [to] engage their skills and talents to make a difference and thrive in the City of Boston.” Aisha has been doing her part to make this happen, by sharing her voice and building a community around herself. Her advice for others hoping to make change is simple but powerful: “Keep the conversation going! Know you’re empowered and small acts matter.” That, after all, is how all movements start.

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