Founder and Executive Director, the Arc of Change
Awarded Citation for Service by United States Senate
Speaker at Edward M. Kennedy Groundbreaking Ceremony
University of Massachusetts Boston Casa Latina Award for Excellence in Leadership
University of Massachusetts Boston Beacon Leadership Award
City of Boston Spirit Award by Mayor Menino
Abel R. Cano is Founder and Executive Director of The Arc of Change, a Boston-based training initiative focused on harnessing the power of community organizing practices as a transformative craft for leadership and social impact.
Abel is Dominican-American, raised in Boston, Honolulu and Indianapolis. As a leadership trainer and coach, his passion is to ignite breakthroughs that empower a rising generation of social movement leaders. In Abel’s years of leading trainings around the world, he has been consistently inspired by the indomitable strength, resilience, courage, and compassion in people’s hearts.
He learned our capacity to achieve change is limitless when we stand united. As someone who has experienced the challenges of growing up with a single parent in communities affected by structural racism, poverty, and violence, Abel feels called to share that which he has had the opportunity to learn — and to continue learning alongside others committed to doing meaningful work for justice.
Encountering the loving force of family and faith sparked Abel’s desire to be part of something bigger than himself, and to encourage others to discover the truth within themselves. In high school, he experienced the pain of losing a close friend to gun violence. Rather than choosing a path of retribution, he began organizing for peace, eventually signing of a peace treaty in a room filled with other young people.
Two months after graduating from UMass Boston, Abel joined the Campaign to Elect Barack Obama as a staff Field Organizer for Greater Boston and statewide constituency groups in 2012. After years of organizing, Abel Cano found himself teaching graduate courses on leadership alongside legendary organizer Marshall Ganz at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Over the past 10 years, Abel has organized in marginalized communities, co-founded a thriving arts nonprofit, served as Field Director on an electoral campaign to elect Boston’s first Asian-American woman to City Council At-Large, trained and coached 1000’s of progressive leaders, and led 100’s of immersive workshops with the world’s leading universities and nonprofit organizations.
Abel explores his Latino heritage and creativity through his passion for making music as a violinist, singer-songwriter, and reggaetonero. His love for music led to major performances at Latino festivals in Boston, Waltham, and New York City. Abel Cano won an international music competition in Chiang Mai, Thailand and released a hit single called “Siento el Calor” on the groundbreaking album Adrenalina Musikal.
A superhero aficionado, Abel also practices Filipino martial arts and enjoys dancing bachata to connect with his Dominican roots.