Pavel Payano's family came to Lawrence in the late 80s in search of the American dream. For the past several decades his parents worked as teachers in the Lawrence Public Schools. As a product of the Lawrence Public School system, the son of two Lawrence Public School Teachers, he is deeply committed to improving K-12 education and making higher education more affordable and accessible to working class families.
Pavel received a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UMass Amherst, a Masters in Public Affairs from UMass Boston and a law degree from Suffolk University Law School. After obtaining a law degree from Suffolk Law he served as the Director of Operations for ALPFA, a non-profit organization charged with expanding opportunities for leaders in the global market. He also served as an Adjunct Professor at Merrimack College where he taught graduate classes in Community Development & Community Organizing. He continued to pursue his passion for education as a Math IEP Teacher for the Department of Youth Service where he helped dozens of incarcerated youth obtain the credits they needed to graduate high school and start post high-school training or education.
He went on to co-found the Sandbox Leadership Institute for the Merrimack Valley Sandbox Initiative. This initiative was a collaboration between UMass Lowell's Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Deshpande Foundation, which sought to increase leadership and inclusive entrepreneurship in the Lawrence and Lowell area.
Prior to joining the Social Innovation Forum (SIF) as their Director of Community Mobilization in 2020, Pavel also served in several public service roles such as Special Assistant to Congresswoman Tsongas, where he worked on economic development and immigration matters. Pavel also worked as a SNAP (Food Stamps) Social Worker for the Department of Transitional Assistance where he experienced firsthand the flaws of our outdated welfare system.
Pavel has dedicated the last eleven years of his life to serving the Lawrence community, first as a School Committee member and most recently as a City Councilor At- Large. As a member of the Lawrence School Committee, he advocated for initiatives that reduced the achievement gap and increased post-secondary student enrollment. As a City Councilor, he successfully led on public safety measures, secured additional public school funding, and spearheaded public health initiatives.
Pavel’s commitment and passion lies in working to eradicate racial and economic inequities and ensure that every person has an opportunity to achieve the American dream. Pavel resides in Lawrence with his beautiful dog, Teja.