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Dr. Rael-Galvez brings the past full circle
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By Joshua Pilkington

Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez continues to tie the past to the present

There are busy people and then there is Colorado-born Dr. Estevan Rael-Gálvez.

"I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with many organizations, in many places, from my local community of Santa Fe to Los Angeles and New York and even international,” said the native of northern Taos County. “Right now, I am working on a local project on historic trauma and also advising on creative initiatives in the Middle East.”

Indeed, Rael-Gálvez has enjoyed a tenured career that has taken him around the world while fulfilling the duties associated with the titles of state historian of New Mexico, executive director of the National Hispanic Cultural Center, senior vice president of National Trust for Historic Preservation, and independent consultant and founder of Creative Strategies 360.

His current project, Creative Strategies 360, focuses on incorporating what he calls the “three C’s” into the collective psyche of those the company works with and visits.

“I’m not just doing storytelling or history,” Rael-Gálvez said of his consulting firm. “I’m doing all kinds of things. There are three components that have always framed my work and continue to frame the mission now. It’s fostering community; it’s inspiring creativity; and raising consciousness.”

Beyond raising awareness of what our ancestors have gone through (or made others go through) of the past, Rael-Gálvez said that raising consciousness can also be utilized in the present by taking a deep dive into social issues.

“It’s about social justice issues, gentrification, LGBT issues, it’s about any issues that I think are going to create a more inclusive, civil society,” he said. “So when I talk about raising consciousness, that’s what I’m trying to do.”

Of course Rael-Gálvez didn’t get to the point of raising consciousness about historical issues in modern context overnight. Like many who grew up in a world sans social media and cyberspace, his was a storyteller’s upbringing.

“I often say that my parents and my grandmother instilled in me a love for storytelling and memory and history at a very early age,” he said. “I grew up in Costilla and Questa (New Mexico) and they instilled a love for education. So I loved books, I loved reading, but my grandmother also instilled in me a love for curiosity, imagination and so I often talk about these core values that shaped my love for what I’ve done my entire life. Not just history, but all of it – trying to connect the past to the present and to the future.”

As for those connections, Rael-Gálvez said that they are integral to the storytelling itself. Without the story, there won’t be a connection.

“For me it’s ensuring that any communities that have been particularly marginalized, whether it’s women or whether it’s ethnic communities, see themselves reflected in these stories,” he said. “Because there’s been so much erasure and so many of these stories have been obscured, particularly in a national context, I work to ensure that younger generations see themselves in these stories.”

As both a historian and anthropologist, Rael-Gálvez possesses the unique ability to look at the past and connect it to the present, a talent that he uses when it comes to bringing those obscured stories to light.

“I helped develop an opera about Japanese interment in Santa Fe,” he said about how he uses various forms of media to reach a broader audience when revealing esoteric stories. “I’ve always worked to create the type of venues where you’re actually revealing these stories in a much more accessible way.”

As for our present today and connections that can be drawn and learned from to the past, Rael-Gálvez said that the road ahead will be challenging.

“We’re in a pivotal moment as a society,” he said. “It’s not just given the polarizing politics. I also have always been what I describe as a pragmatist and an idealist; an idealist meaning that I have hope for being able to move through any of the tensions that divide us.

“But I’m also a pragmatist in that I’m not afraid of rolling up my sleeves and doing the hard work that it’s going to take to move through those types of tensions. That has defined my work and continues to define it moving forward.”

Creative Strategies 360 is a consulting firm focused on illuminating and inspiring creativity, consciousness and community. For more information visit





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