Hakim Bellamy recently served as the Deputy Director for the City of Albuquerque Department of Arts & Culture (2018-2022). The inaugural poet laureate of Albuquerque (2012-2014), Bellamy is a national and regional Poetry Slam Champion who holds three consecutive collegiate poetry slam titles at UNM. He is the author of seven books including the children’s book, Samuel’s Story (Community Publishing 2015), as well as his award-winning poetry collection SWEAR (West End Press/UNM Press). He is the co-creator of the multimedia Hip Hop theater production Urban Verbs: Hip-Hop Conservatory & Theater that has been staged throughout the country. A Kennedy Citizen Artist Fellow, he has facilitated youth writing workshops for schools, jails, churches, prisons and community organizations in New Mexico and beyond. He currently serves as the Board President for the One Albuquerque Fund and as a Western States Arts Federation Trustee. www.beyondpoetryink.com
Val Day-Sanchez (pronouns include, she/they) served as a professor of communication for over ten years. Crafting a curriculum that magnified voices which have historically been marginalized, ignited a passion to use education to address social justice issues outside of the classroom. Val created their company, The Only Black Girl in the Room to facilitate anti-racism training across the country. The inclusion of voices, who are too often silenced and the protection of those voices was the leading reason Val, with the hopes of working as a civil rights attorney, attained their JD at UNM School of Law. As an author, Val enjoys telling diverse stories about diverse individuals. Her work includes Y.A., Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and short stories.
Seth N. Finch has been a pastoral leader at Covenant Presbyterian Church of Albuquerque since 2008. He grew up in Aztec, NM as a double PK (Pastor's Kid), and was deeply shaped by the church, the cultural landscapes of New Mexico and small-town life. Seth received his B.A. in Religion and Philosophy from Austin College, a Master of Divinity from McCormick Seminary and a Masters of Interfaith Action from Claremont Lincoln University. His extensive travels have led him to value different traditions, cultures, religions, and practices and as a result, he works a great deal to create connections between his church community and other religious and community organizations across the city. He has served on the Hopeworks/St. Martin’s Board, the Pilgrimage for Unity, and has worked extensively with other religious leaders across the city for the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service as well as on other community development issues. At the core of his calling is a sense that we are better working together--whether that be within the local church, the community, the larger church, but especially across religious boundaries. Seth’s greatest joy comes from his wife and 2 children, and picking out new bedtime books at the library is a favorite pastime.
Kei Tsuzuki is a social entrepreneur using creativity and commerce to change lives. As co-founder of Kei & Molly Textiles, she has shown how an art studio can create good jobs supporting humane policies that help stabilize the lives of recent immigrants and refugees in our community. Her work grows from her lifelong endeavor to learn about her own place in the world—as a Japanese-born immigrant growing up in French-speaking Québec and educated in the USA. Literature has provided guideposts in this quest. Indeed, she actively seeks books that explore all aspects of identity, be it racial, gender, sexual, religious, or cultural. Her selection of titles are some of her favorite books that have offered a deeper understanding of her own self and of the community in which she lives. According to Kei, “Books reveal ways in which we are all connected in our humanity, and that’s why I love reading!”
Who are the movers and shakers, the influencers, the leaders that you know in your community? Let us know how they have inspired you, made a difference, and moved Albuquerque forward. Send names and a brief description to email@example.com with the subject line “influencer.”
Thanks to Calgary Public Library and former CEO Bill Ptacek for sharing the idea of the Influencers Collection with us.
The Influencers collection brings the reading interests of four community members into the Public Library to share with the entire Albuquerque community. The Library extended an invitation to four local influencers to provide their book recommendations. Titles can be ones that changed their lives, ones that they feel everyone needs to read, titles that they go back to and read over and over again, or recent titles that changed their perspective on the world around us. The collection will begin at the Main Library but then will travel around the City and Bernalillo County to other Public Library branches.