Meet Our Staff
Terri Cooper is the founder of Yoga Gangsters, a teacher, writer, activist and movement builder for social change. In 2003, she began volunteering as a yoga teacher in some of Miami’s marginalized communities. The work and connection was so compelling that she constantly felt drawn to do more. In 2008, she expanded her service into a community outreach program and began to train other yoga teachers to serve in this way. In just a few short years, Yoga Gangsters has touched the lives of more than 3000 people (mostly youth in crisis), has more than 700 trained volunteers and has raised more than $220,000 through grassroots community events. Learn more about Terri Cooper and her yoga studio in Miami, 305 Yoga.
Jodi Weiner, Executive Director – jodi@YogaGangsters.org
Our Executive Director is also an experienced Yoga Gangsters teacher for in crisis youth and foster children. Jodi Weiner, brings her 20+ years of project management experience with Fortune 500 companies into the nonprofit sector by serving as our Executive Director. In her position, Jodi helped to organize our 2012 Global Yoga Aid Challenge in South Florida raising over $85,000 for our organization. Most recently, Jodi joined Terri on the mission of training volunteers nationally to take the movement to a deeper level of inspired service and community. The path of social activism ignites her soul and it’s her life’s purpose to spread the fire! When she is not traveling she is leading 200 hr. certifications with Im-Power Yoga School.
If you are interested in what she is up to, follow her on IG @yogagangster or Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yogawithjodi.
Katie Galligan is Yoga Gangsters Teacher Facilitator in the AZ area and can be contacted Katie@yogagangsters.org
YG: How did Yoga ‘find‘ you?
KG: After years of struggling with trauma and its negative symptoms, I knew I wanted to help others with similar plights. I moved to Tempe, AZ in 2009 to enter a PhD program in child development….and I hated it. All alone in the desert, old issues and trauma symptoms that I thought I had long conquered re-surfaced and all of sudden for the first time in YEARS I had a strong desire to turn back to drugs and alcohol to cope.
Instead… I stumbled into a yoga class.
YG: Why Yoga Gangsters?
KG: I decided I wanted to teach yoga to populations who did not have the time or money to find themselves in a yoga studio … AND I wanted to do it for free. Crazy right?! I emailed Terri Cooper a snippet of my story, my current experience, and my gratefulness to her for starting such a mission. The next day, she called me on the phone and encouraged me to gather a group of people together to do the training, and she would come to Phoenix. I was overwhelmed and could not even believe what was happening. 6 mths later- YG AZ was in full effect!
YG: How has YG affected your life?
KG: Since 2012 we’ve held 3 training certification weekends, trained approximately 60 volunteers, and held many successful YG Programs in places like the Boys and Girls Clubs, 1-in-10 (an LGBTQ youth group), alternative high schools in Tempe, AZ, group homes and shelters for boys and girls, residential treatment centers for girls with substance dependency, and we are soon to start a program 3 years in the making at the Maricopa County Juvenile Justice Center. I cannot even describe in words how much Yoga Gangsters means to me.
YG: What’s your future vision with the YG program?
KG: I’m so honored to be given the opportunity to move into my new role as both AZ Program Coordinator and Southwest Trainer. My vision for Yoga Gangsters is to grow and by growing reach more and more kids. We have some amazingly talented and elective group of executive members and hundreds of volunteers nationwide. My vision for myself is more relaxed than in the past. Many of us, myself included, can be so detail- and goal-oriented that it takes away from the present. Right now, I’m just living in the present doing my YG thang, living the dream.
Yoga Gangsters is made up of over 1,000 national volunteer teachers who have been certified to teach outreach yoga to youth who are at-risk or in-crisis locally and in NY, MA, AZ, CO,OH, NV, OK, IL, TX, PA, GA, NJ, MI, FL, IA, and more coming soon. Meet some of our most active teachers here.