History

History

The Sapientia Initiative was established as a 501(c)(3) Educational Organization in 2019 to serve as the umbrella organization for the expanding community of Riverside Initiative for the Alexander Technique (RIAT). RIAT, originally founded in 2014, offers one of the leading Alexander Technique teacher training programs in the United States.

RIAT, and its Teacher Certification Program (TCP), was founded by Nanette Walsh. RIAT emerged from the necessity for a new paradigm of Alexander Technique teacher training: one that values the Technique’s origins; is committed to preserving and moving forward its fundamental practices; and is dedicated to integrating alternative approaches to more traditional “top-down” teacher training.


Nanette was first exposed to a diversity of lineages in her private study and American training. After her training, she traveled to England and was deeply affected by years of in-depth post graduate study with first-generation teachers trained by the Technique’s founder, F.M. Alexander.

Thus, immersed in the methods of the teachers closest to Alexander’s original training course, Nanette is deeply committed to preserving a strong connection to the Technique’s foundational principles and practice. When she formed RIAT in 2014, her aim was to actualize a training course and community that preserved the Technique’s foundation, which was run by women and lgbtq+ folx.

From its beginning RIAT has been committed to integrating emerging paradigms for teaching, learning, and communicating, while simultaneously honoring time-tested educational practices that linked back to the technique’s origin. From its beginning, RIAT has been dedicated to teaching and reaching underserved communities. As support for RIAT’s mission grew, support grew for founding the umbrella non-profit organization, Sapientia Initiative, within which RIAT now resides. 

Nan has been training AmSAT certified teachers since 2005. She founded RIAT, and its unique Teacher Certification Program in 2014. Nan’s breadth and depth of training experience contribute to RIAT’s unique and integrative training. While RIAT’s underlying structure is based on a highly developed, rigorous, and practical progression, the atmosphere on the course is friendly, fun, and informal.

Ariel Carson has been Nan’s Associate Director since its formation. She was joined by Lori Schiff as an Associate Director, in 2018. In 2020, Caren Bayer joined RIAT’s Faculty, completing a star studded lead teaching staff for RIAT’s Teacher Certification Program. Ariel, Lori, and Caren lend an additional breadth and depth to Nan’s teacher training. The course is further enriched by a diverse group of RIAT trained Assistant Faculty and its wonderful Training Course Teacher Apprentices. Classes typically have 3 teachers in attendance, making for a high student teacher ratio that offers plenty of personal attention and hands-on. Combined together, the cadre teachers on the training course offer a immense wealth of expertise, skills, and over 100 years of collective teaching experience.

Amid pandemic and global events that have shaken the foundations of civil society, Sapientia has steadily provided a vital connection to safe in-person teacher training while maintaining the high degree of excellence training teachers, for which RIAT had become known. We have effectively utilized technology to reach everyone in our community, offered scholarship opportunities, hybrid classes, and outreach programs for the general public.

We remain committed to walking a steady middle path that arises out of the diversity of Nanette’s and the RIAT community’s experience.