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Poet Laureate of ABQ to Speak at 2019 NM Leadership Summit

Renowned community leader and Poet Laureate of Albuquerque, Michelle Otero, will speak on the importance of leading by example at the NM Leadership Summit on Aug. 16.
Poet Laureate of ABQ to Speak at 2019 NM Leadership Summit
Michelle was named Poet Laureate of Albuquerque in 2018.

Jul 08, 2019

New Mexico native Michelle Otero has made her mark as an accomplished community leader and artist in our state. From rural Deming, N.M., to Harvard University and back, Michelle has used her writing and art to inspire people across the country.

“A lot of my work has been focused on helping people tell their stories,” says Michelle. “Whether that is through facilitation or campaign work or poetry, it’s what I believe bonds us as humans.”

Michelle’s work reached a breakthrough moment in 2004 when she was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to implement creative writing workshops for women survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Oaxaca, Mexico.

“That’s where my work as a writer and somebody who is interested in using writing as a vehicle for healing mental and emotional trauma really came together,” she says.

Michelle has since returned to New Mexico and, in 2018, was named the Poet Laureate of Albuquerque.

In addition to being an acclaimed poet and writer, she’s an accomplished facilitator and coach who utilizes creative expression and storytelling as the basis for organizational development and positive social change. Her process of engaging individuals and communities through the expression of shared story has found a wide range of applications, from helping conservation organizations better understand the priorities of traditional land based communities to helping people heal from trauma.

Additionally, Michelle recently launched ArteSana Creative Consulting LLC, which she operates from the South Valley Economic Development Center.

“I’ve found that New Mexico has a really supportive environment for artists, socially and culturally speaking,” Michelle says. “It’s in the air we breathe. Our people have a real respect and love for story here.”

Michelle's runs ArteSana Creative Consulting LLC. out of the South Valley Economic Development Center in Albuquerque.
Michelle's runs ArteSana Creative Consulting LLC. out of the South Valley Economic Development Center in Albuquerque.

On Aug. 16, Michelle will be one of eight featured speakers at the 2019 New Mexico Leadership Summit who will share their leadership experiences and unique personal stories.

Michelle says that when she thinks of leadership, she thinks of people who show up and are always present in the moment. She admires the qualities of people who are the first to arrive and last to leave.

“I respect the people in leadership roles that are willing to get their hands dirty with everyone else,” she says. “Having a strong, supportive presence for my team is a quality that I continue to aspire to.”

She says that creating spaces for people to contribute in ways that are meaningful and true to their personalities and professional strengths helps to cultivate a rewarding and effective work environment.

Growing up in Deming, Michelle says her uncle David helped to cultivate a path for her to follow.

“He was the first one of us to leave home and really make it big in another state,” Michelle says. “He went to UNM from Deming and then got into Georgetown University Law School.”

He would also visit her at Harvard, which helped fuel her motivation to succeed.

“He drove to Boston to visit me and we had the best time,” she says. “He was brave and hardworking and smart, and wasn’t afraid to be any of those things. I feel like he imbued those qualities upon me, which has made me a better leader and person all around.”

The New Mexico Leadership Summit is sponsored by Oasis Albuquerque and Central New Mexico Community College. To see the complete list of speakers and for more information, including tickets, visit the New Mexico Leadership Summit website.