Written by Alicia Maldonado
Greetings from New Mexico! My name is Alicia Lueras Maldonado and I am happy to be working with the Building Movement Project to coordinate their work in the State to bring together organizers, advocates and service providers to work together for change. I am a native New Mexican and passionate about creating positive social change in our communities. For the past 20 years, I have worked at the intersections of art, politics, community organizing, and social justice. In addition to my work with BMP, I am CEO and Founder of Atlixco Productions LLC, based in Albuquerque.
My introduction to community organizing came as a result of my art. As a photographer and filmmaker I have documented my community of Atrisco in Albuquerque’s South Valley since I was a youth. Without realizing it, I was providing witness to the inequities I saw around me. I didn’t have the language to describe what I saw as a young child, but as I continued to document my community I began to see patterns and realize that there were larger issues at play. These issues would resurface as I began to work as a community organizer and political consultant:. Environmental and sacred site protection, lack of infrastructure in poor communities, sprawl development, campaign finance and ethics reform, and water rights are just a few of the campaigns and issues I worked on over the years.
My work in the early 90’s documenting the fight to protect the Petroglyph National Monument, a Native American sacred site, landed me my first job as a community organizer. I was producing a video for my broadcast journalism class including interviews with the organizers from the Petroglyph Monument Protection Coalition (PMPC), developers, city officials and others. I eventually became a member of PMPC and when I graduated from the University of New Mexico they offered me a job. I had the privilege of working with a group of talented organizers who would become my friends and mentors who I still work with to this day.
Over the course of the next few years we created several organizations to tackle the diverse needs of the community including a for-profit political consulting firm, Soltari Inc., with the goal of getting local progressive elected into office. One of our early successes was U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich; we ran his first political race for Albuquerque City Council. Despite many other victories we needed to do the long-term work on civic engagement, public policy and leadership development. We ended Soltari Inc. and created the Center for Civic Policy, a nonprofit that is part of the State Voices network and a nationally recognized innovator in the civic engagement sector. We also started the New Mexico Strategic Leadership Institute, a statewide leadership network to bring together leaders from across the state to build relationships and learn from one another.
I was excited when I learned that Building Movement Project was interested in working in New Mexico, along with its partner organizations, Encuentro and the SouthWest Organizing Project. The work of building relationships across sectors has been of particular interest to me and I am looking forward to helping to guide this process.
Our goals over the next three years are to build relationships and identify common interests in systemic changes in New Mexico among service providers, advocacy groups, and organizers, including how to build the visibility, voice and power of low-income residents, document the current social change activities taking place, and offer trainings on how organizations can integrate a social change vision and activities into their everyday work including alliances across sectors.
Now I am ready to dig into this work as part of this wonderful team!