Shani grew up in southern California, central Massachusetts, and rural Michigan. Upon earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology at Wellesley College, she pursued a career path that included bookselling, conference organizing, youth work, grant writing, and urban farming.
A through-line in her professional life has been a commitment to the social justice community of eastern Massachusetts. She spent 10 years in the youth development field. She then realized that her dual passions for social justice and gardening could be combined through a career in food justice. She became an urban farmer at ReVision Urban Farm in Dorchester where she worked for six seasons, serving first as the Grower and then as the Farm Manager.
After receiving her Master of Public Policy degree from Tufts University’s Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning in 2018, she began working at the City of Boston as the Grassroots Program Manager, through which she helped community groups gain access to City land and federal money to start community gardens, urban farms, and other open spaces. She now serves as the Director of GrowBoston, Boston’s first Office of Urban Agriculture.
She has done a diverse range of volunteer work over the years, and her personal interests include cooking, travel, karaoke, and the liberation of all people from oppression.