Curtis Davis, Senior Marketing Associate, Civic Hall
“Growing up in a single-parent, impoverished household as a gay youth, I experienced a lot of adversity and dance really helped me get energy out. It was just ME and the dance floor; nothing else was going on — an escape for that energy.”
Pronouns: He, Him, His
Meet Curtis. Curtis is Civic Hall’s new Marketing Associate, freshly relocated from Phoenix, Arizona. Trained at ASU’s Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, his career has focused on nonprofits and community organizing, with experience in development and event management, as well as marketing and communications. He has an entrepreneurial mindset that aligns with Civic Hall and enjoys riffing on business development, especially marketing. This brand-spanking-new New Yorker is also a resident of the historic Sugar Hill section of Harlem. You can reach Curtis via email or connect with him on LinkedIn.
What Does He Do?
As our new Marketing Associate, Curtis will be responsible for all of Civic Hall’s communications including social media posts and newsletters. “I am always open to new ideas so feel free to send me questions and/or suggestions regarding content.”
How Did He Get Into This Work?
Curtis was raised by a single mother, and is the first in his entire family to move out of Arizona, and is a first-generation college graduate. His mother taught him to “be caring and mindful of others — be aware of your actions and how they affect others.”
He grew up in a hardscrabble part of Phoenix, specifically the Maryvale neighborhood — made notorious by Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s reign of terror against Latinos, specifically Mexicans. At the age of 15, that long arm of the law extended out to personally threaten Curtis. Driver’s permit in hand, he took his mom’s car out for a spin, just beyond their property. A cop signaled for him to pull over, so Curtis, foot on the gas, rolled slowly back into the family driveway. He was forcibly pulled out of his car, drug through the dirt and carport, felt knees across his back and suffered cuts and purple bruises. It was dark outside, and when his cousin ran out to investigate the source of the melee outside, she was whipped by handcuffs. “Why are you arresting me?” he pleaded. “Because we can and you’re a fucking idiot.”
This incident sparked something in Curtis. “While I have my citizenship and I’m 4th generation, I’m still impacted because of what I look like. At the end of the day, being Mexican is still my heritage and where I’m from.”
Curtis would become involved in an anti-bullying initiative through a “Peer Leadership” group, which led to his participation in Anytown’s “Diversity camp.”
After SB 1070 became law — at the time the most draconian anti-immigrant law to be passed nationally — he remembers a seminal moment from his high school experience: Despite being fierce rivals, to the extent that violence frequently broke out during football games, both local high schools came together. In response to this unjust law, one of the student organizers — his parents had been deported — staged a walkout uniting both student bodies to march to the Capitol in protest. That day, over 10 high schools staged walkouts, equating to over 2,500 students. (Fun fact: they used MySpace as their platform.)
After graduating from Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, Curtis sought to leverage his passion and communication skills in the non-profit sector, first working at St. Vincent de Paul — an anti-poverty organization which has its largest satellite in Arizona, and then Hope Community Services.
How Did He Come To Civic Hall?
Curtis applied to Civic Hall as part of the process of honoring his husband Jovanny’s dream to move to New York City once he graduated college. Over the summer they planned a vacation/networking trip here in August and he began to reach out to people on LinkedIn, scheduling networking events, and exploring the city. After researching the non-profit sector in NYC, Curtis applied to 50 jobs, despite being uncertain that he was “good enough” to be hired by us city slickers. Civic Hall was the first position that he applied for and it inspired him to write a personal statement describing his experience with adversity. One month later Curtis accepted the position, and three weeks ago, he relocated to NYC. In the process, Curtis asserts: “I am fulfilling a newfound dream to make a larger impact, not only in the community but throughout the world.”
What is He Reading/Watching/Listening To?
Recently returned Civic Hall member Mehdi Laalaj turned Curtis onto the documentary “Searching for Sugarman,” about musician Sixto Rodriguez. Not only was Curtis moved by Rodriguez’s music, first released in 1970, but he was inspired that this anonymous artist was a household name abroad, profoundly inspiring leaders of the Anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa.
What Is His Ask of Civic Hall?
“We need to highlight not only member wins and successes but what this group of people have accomplished!”
Curtis is invested in building out an infrastructure for the civic tech community while recognizing that Civic Hall is a leading organization in this sector. “I want people to come to our page for news and updates. Just sharing information is powerful, not just from our members and partners, but what’s going on in the wider community.”
“Growing up in a single-parent, impoverished household as a gay youth, I experienced a lot of adversity and dance really helped me get energy out. It was just ME and the dance floor; nothing else was going on — an escape for that energy.” From the age of ten, Curtis had been making dance routines. In high school, he started the first campus hip hop squad. He’s offered to start teaching dance classes here at Civic Hall. Let’s take him up on it!