Empower! Black Futures Community Fund announces inaugural members of advisory committee

Advisory committee to support Black life, arts & culture in New Mexico

Santa Fe, New Mexico — Empower! Black Futures Community Fund, formerly known as the Earthseed Community Fund, is proud to announce the inaugural members of its advisory committee. Launched in 2023 through the collaborative efforts of the Earthseed Black Arts Alliance and the Santa Fe Community Foundation, Empower! Black Futures Community Fund is an identity-based giving circle dedicated to supporting Black life, arts, and culture in New Mexico. 

 “This group of advisors have come together in service of the fund and, like a family quilt, represent a beautiful cross section of our Black community,” expressed Raashan Ahmad, Chair of the Advisory Committee. “I look forward to working with them to support opportunities that empower the present and future generations of Black New Mexicans.”

Led by Raashan Ahmad as Chair, the founding committee members include Hakim Bellamy, Rich Brown, Michael Davis, Shani Harvie, Bettye Kearse, Simesha McEachern, Neema Pickett, and SPAC3.

“It’s our honor to welcome and work alongside each member of the committee,” said Christopher Goett, President & CEO of the Santa Fe Community Foundation. “Collectively, this group brings a wealth of experience and understanding to our work supporting the long-term health and vitality of New Mexico through equity-driven initiatives. We’re very grateful for their leadership.”

Contributions to Empower! Black Futures Community Fund will help seed its permanent endowment, which will grow over time to ensure sustained support of Black causes in New Mexico in perpetuity. The advisory committee will make an inaugural grant from the fund as part of its Juneteenth 2024 celebrations.

“We are all so excited about the plans we are making for Juneteenth,” said Sandra Session-Robertson, Vice President of Development & Donor Relations at the Santa Fe Community Foundation. “We invite everyone to join us in learning, honoring, and celebrating New Mexico’s Black community. Stay tuned for details!”

 

Committee Members

Raashan Ahmad, Chair

Raashan Ahmad is a father, musician, poet, community worker, and DJ. He has released six critically-acclaimed albums, which have taken him to over thirty-five countries around the world. This, in turn, has led him down a path of international collaboration across artistic mediums, borders, and cultures.

Raashan Ahmad loves the intersection of the arts and community. Passionate about equity and access to the arts, he is an Arts Commissioner for the city of Santa Fe, a founding member of Earthseed Black Arts Alliance, a commissioner for the Santa Fe Film and Digital Media Commission, sits on the advisory board for the National Parks Arts Foundation and is a director and producer of video and storytelling projects. He lives by the Emma Goldman quote “If I can’t dance I don’t want to be in your revolution,” so is also passionate about throwing the best dance parties. He brings his passion for building connections across barriers that can divide communities to his work at Vital Spaces.

Bettye Kearse

Dr. Kearse is the author of the multiple award-winning memoir The Other Madisons: The Lost History of A President’s Black Family (Mariner Books, 2020), which took some thirty years of research and writing. It is both a personal family history and an homage to millions of silenced, invisible African Americans. This memoir is an intimate work of narrative nonfiction that discovers, discloses, and embraces a more inclusive and complete American story.

With a background in Genetics, Biology, and Medicine, Dr. Kearse practiced pediatrics in Boston, MA for 31 years before retiring to Santa Fe, NM. She has appeared on television, podcasts, and radio shows, and spoken at various institutions including Harvard University and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. She is a member The Montpelier Foundation Board of Directors and of the Montpelier Descendants Committee. According to eight generations of her family’s oral history, Dr. Kearse is a descendant of an enslaved cook and her enslaver, and half-brother, President James Madison.

Hakim Bellamy

Hakim Bellamy is the Inaugural Poet Laureate of Albuquerque (2012-2014), a two-time National Poetry Slam Champion (2005 & 2006) and past Creative Writing Chair at New Mexico School for the Arts. His poetry has been published on the Albuquerque Convention Center, on the outside of a library, in inner-city buses, and in numerous anthologies across the globe. Bellamy was recognized as an honorable mention for the University of New Mexico Paul Bartlett Ré Peace Prize for his work as a community organizer and journalist in 2007 and later awarded the Career Achievement Award for the same Prize in 2018. In 2017, he was named a Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow and previously served as the on-air television host for New Mexico PBS’s ¡COLORES! program for three years. Prior to pursuing a law degree at the University of New Mexico School of Law, Bellamy served as deputy director for the City of Albuquerque Department of Arts and Culture from 2018 to 2022.  

Simesha McEachern

Dr. Simesha McEachern is a highly motivated and accomplished professional who has made significant contributions in her field of work. She was born and raised in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and developed a passion for education at a young age.

After completing her undergraduate studies at Methodist University, Simesha pursued a career in education. She earned a master's degree in education and completed her Doctoral degree in Education in 2018. After completing her degree, she moved to Santa Fe, NM where she serves as the Associate Director of Children's Services at Presbyterian Medical Services.

In addition to her work in education, Dr. McEachern is also an advocate for social justice issues and actively participates in community-based initiatives aimed at leveling the playing field for underrepresented groups. She serves as the president of the Santa Fe branch of the NAACP and is a vestry member at St. Bede's Episcopal Church.

Dr. McEachern’s contribution to her profession and community proves her dedication to making a positive difference. Her work is a testament to her unwavering belief in equality, opportunity, and education for all.

Rich Brown

Rich Brown is the Director for the City of Santa Fe’s Community Development Department. He tackles a myriad of initiatives that support business growth, innovation, prosperity, and the overall well-being of the City’s residents. Some of his areas of focus are small business resiliency, entrepreneurship, workforce development, industry cluster growth and real estate asset development, including the Midtown Parcel Redevelopment. Additionally, his Community Development leadership portfolio includes integrating and managing the initiatives of the Planning and Land Use Department, Office of Affordable Housing, the Arts & Culture Department and Tourism Santa Fe.

He has spent the majority of professional career in both New York and San Francisco consulting with enterprise-level financial services and tech companies on their employee, partner, and customer relationship management strategies. Before moving to Santa Fe, he served as the Executive Director of the San Francisco Chapter of the Association for Corporate Growth; a member organization with a charter to help middle-market companies sustain their growth goals through connections, programming, and the M&A ecosystem.

A six-year Santa Fe resident, Rich and his husband, Chris (a Santa Fe native) enjoy food and wine, golf, tennis, gardening, and great books. They also have a son attending high school.

Neema Pickett

Neema Pickett, originally from Altadena, California, grew up on a 24-acre ranch before her family moved to New Mexico. Here, she founded Kamaria Creations Wellness Retreat over 25 years ago with the aim of supporting Black individuals through healing practices. Believing in entrepreneurship as a path to financial freedom, she joined the Women’s Business Center in New Mexico, earning recognition as National Business Advisor of the Year and receiving the SBA's 2023 Business Center of the Year award. She was also selected as a WK Kellogg Foundation Community Leader and will serve as a fellow through 2025.

Pickett is skilled in I&D program development, workshop facilitation, HR management, and data-driven decision-making. She's passionate about community engagement, serving on the board of the Albuquerque Bless Fund, supporting Black-owned businesses. With a background in clinical psychology and evolutionary anthropology, Pickett is also a licensed cosmetologist and educator. In her free time, she enjoys gardening and caring for miniature horses and goats.

Michael Davis

Michael C. Davis, CEO and Founder of Merek.io, leads a cybersecurity firm that prioritizes human behavior in fostering cyber-mindfulness and security awareness. With 22 years of experience in the US Navy and roles at Boeing, IBM, and Los Alamos National Laboratory, he's esteemed for his cross-sector competence and technical prowess. Engaged in industry associations like ASIS and IEEE, Davis contributes to advancing security practices and shares insights at various events.

A member of the American Psychological Association and the New Mexico Technology Council, Davis showcases his commitment to the psychology-technology intersection and regional collaboration.

At Merek.io, Michael C. Davis drives business development while being a published author on internet wellness and an editorial contributor for Newsweek and Forbes. Michael's TEDxABQ 2022 talk on mindfulness and tech underscores his firm's unique approach. Currently pursuing a Ph.D., he delves into cyberpsychology and human-machine behavior, enhancing Merek.io's standing as a leading industry player.

Shani Harvie

Ms. Shani Harvie is a JEDI Coordinator (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Coordinator) for the State of New Mexico's Economic Development Department.  Shani is a graduate from the University of New Mexico's Anderson School of Management and is passionate about systems change and creativity. Harvie was instrumental in establishing EDD’s permanent JEDI office in 2021, which works to promote awareness and accessibility for small, underserved business through connecting resources and programming to communities that historically fall through the cracks. With experience in community engagement, government, non-profit, and philanthropic work, her strategic insight, and perspective draws connections that center collaboration and creative solutions. As a small business advocate, she is passionate about restoring balance to lopsided systems, and assisting individuals and communities in learning how to navigate systems like local government effectively.

SPAC3

SPAC3, a local hip hop artist and independent filmmaker based in Santa Fe, has been involved in numerous local events. Along with his crew, the SPACEMOB SPACECADETS, he has organized events and performances, and producing a variety of content that showcases local artists of all ages. SPAC3 aims to continue contributing to event culture in the beautiful state of New Mexico, collaborating with fellow creatives for the rest of his life.

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Learn more & Donate 

For more information and to donate to the fund, visit www.santafecf.org/funds/empower.

Media inquiries may be directed to Lily Horwath: lhorwath@santafecf.org | 505.988.9715

Feb 28, 2024
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