Originally from Santa Barbara, California, Aija Nemer-Aanerud got her start in organizing as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago. Remarkably, the area where the university is located holds many similarities with the neighborhood where Aija grew up, both being impacted by extreme wealth inequality and segregation. Motivated by this, Aija became involved in local organizing in her first year at the university, and, soon after, co-founded a citywide student organizing network called Chicago Student Action (CSA). In her time with CSA, the organization won victories for financial aid reform at Roosevelt University and campus policing reform and debt-free college at UChicago. CSA also played a key role in winning a de facto moratorium on fracking in Illinois in 2014.
Aija graduated from UChicago in 2014 with a bachelor's degree in Political Science. She fundraised her salary and upon graduation began building Chicago Student Action full-time. Then in 2015 she joined People's Action's national staff and co-founded Student Action, a national student organizing program focused on economic and racial justice, anchored in the fight to win Free College for All. Aija served as Director of Student Action until Fall 2019 when she stepped down.
Aija currently lives in Austin, Texas and is the Community Outreach Coordinator for Senior Access, a local nonprofit that provides free transportation for seniors. She is excited to get to know the local organizing scene here and has recently begun volunteering with the Lilith Fund, a Texas reproductive justice organization.