While it’s difficult to sum up what Chamina Curtis does for the city ― because it’s a lot ― you can describe the modern-day Renaissance woman in a single word: passionate.
She’s passionate about her Christian faith, she’s passionate about her work at Miami University Regionals as a lecturer in management, marketing and leadership, and she’s passionate about all the volunteer work in her hometown.
And there’s a lot.
She serves on the boards for the Greater Miami Valley YMCA, Booker T. Washington Community Center, and Hamilton Community Foundation, is an advisor to the student group Melenated Matters at Hamilton High School, is a co-founder of the Citywide Hamilton Internship Program, is on the YWCA of Hamilton’s finance committee, and is a part of the Black Business Coalition where they advocated for black business’s economic empowerment within Hamilton.
It’s about being involved, Curtis said, whether it’s social justice advocacy or community engagement. All of that is just part of her DNA.
“It’s easy to complain and be part of the problem,” she said. “It’s easy to say what’s not right with something and to say ‘Hamilton is this’ or Hamilton is that,’” she said. “But it’s another thing to roll up your sleeves and say, ‘Hamilton can be whatever we choose.’ Whatever we say Hamilton is, we’re the ‘we,’ so my goal is to always be optimistic, to be positive, to enroll people in an idea that’s bigger than us.”
The idiom “it takes a village to raise a child” may not be a perfect description to describe Curtis’ childhood, but she is a product of her village, which was the community on and around South Second Street. Family and friends were always close by.
“Our community was everything, meaning it was a safe space,” she said. “We were community-minded; it’s just how we grew up.”
The capital city of Butler County has come a long way in the past dozen or so years with its revitalization efforts, and Curtis and her indelible community-minded spirit are just a couple of the ingredients of why Hamilton has been strengthening its community ties year after year.
“At the heart of the word community is unity, right? So, there has to be a unifying factor that includes everybody, not just certain neighborhoods, not just certain people, but it has to be inclusive of everyone.”
Though this past year has been difficult, losing her rock, her husband Dean Curtis, on March 11, 2022, who died of lung cancer despite not smoking a day in his life.
As Curtis moves forward ― continuing to make an impact through community engagement and advocacy; developing the next generation of talented leaders; expanding her talents into the field of workforce development and equality initiatives; and just finding joy in life as she follows the path God’s laid out for her ― Dean will be right there. Walking by her side, just as he did before his passing.
“Dean was a fierce protector and supporter,” Curtis said. “He was my greatest supporter, my champion, my best friend.”
So as Curtis continues to be a champion for the village that raised her, having a seat at the proverbial table, her rock will be in the chair beside her. Together, they’ll instill confidence in a city that had needed leaders to spark its revitalization more than a dozen years ago and will need to continue to make positive changes for the next generations.
About the Author