Luis Chavez-Brumell '04
Deputy Director of the New Haven Free Public Library
If you are from New Haven, you probably identify with a particular neighborhood, parish church, or a favorite place to get apizza. For Luis Chavez-Brumell '04, a New Haven native who identifies with the entire city, each neighborhood has unique traits that make it great. Although he grew up in Beaver Hills and Westville, he spent considerable time in other communities. He attended West Hills Middle School in the Hill neighborhood where his father worked at the Hill Health Center, and where his parents helped found the LULAC Head Start Daycare Center on Cedar Street.
Chavez-Brumell saw different areas of New Haven every day as he traveled home from Notre Dame via public transit. Those trips allowed him to observe unique neighborhood traits firsthand and rediscovered the New Haven Free Public Library system throughout the city. He visited the Ives Main Library to select books for required summer reading and walked past the Mitchell Branch Library on the way home from the bus stop.
Fast forward from ND's 2004 graduation to 2016, Chavez-Brumell is the manager of the Young Minds and Family Learning Department of the NHFPL with responsibility for supporting Summer Learning initiatives for youth. Two years later, Chavez-Brumell was appointed Branch Manager of the Courtland S. Wilson Library in the Hill Neighborhood, named in honor of the grandfather of a West Hills classmate. His outstanding work at the Wilson Branch led to his 2020 appointment as Deputy Director of the NHFPL system.
His Notre Dame Story began with his mother and some neighbors encouraging him to apply. Chavez-Brumell entered Notre Dame in 2000 from New Haven's West Hills Middle School, where he had some Spanish courses. Having tested into Spanish II as a freshman, he improved his fluency and grammar over the next four years. Chavez-Brumell, like most ND students, had an active extra-curricular life participating in Track, Minority Student Union, Intramurals, and the Spanish, Guitar, and Ecology Clubs. Graduating from ND, he enrolled at UConn and earned his BA degree in Latin American Studies in 2008.
After UConn, he served for a year with Public Allies, an AmeriCorps Apprenticeship Program through which he was a Volunteer Coordinator at the Bridgeport Free Public Library. "My AmeriCorps experience in Bridgeport led to my career in public libraries." His next steps allowed him to consolidate his community engagement, storytelling, and library experiences by working as a Production Assistant on a PBS documentary entitled Fixing the Future NOW, taking a part-time position at the West Haven Public Library, and working towards a Master's Degree in Library Science via distance education. He was awarded his degree from North Carolina Central University, Durham, in 2012. Along with his part-time West Haven Library position, in 2014, he became the Associate Site Manager of an AmeriCorps program at UConn, through which he recruited, trained, and supervised early-childhood literacy volunteers.
"In my current role, I apply my Latin American Studies and my Spanish language skills to be of service to the City's Spanish-speaking community. I helped set up a vaccination clinic at the Wilson Branch Library in partnership with the Cornell Scott Hill Health Center. Among other responsibilities, I lead the NHFPL's Strategic initiatives and will restart city-wide Spanish Language services." The New Haven Free Public Library provides an ideal setting for an activist like Luis Chavez-Brumell. He engages with newly arrived neighbors, arranges English classes for parents, provides reading material in various languages spoken by New Haveners, and establishes literacy programs.
Chavez-Brumell is an advocate dedicated to the power of story to build the present and imagine improved futures. He received several certificates in multiple aspects of video production. "I have always loved storytelling, and I had an opportunity to work on a PBS documentary Fixing the Future NOW as a production assistant. I wanted to expand my knowledge base with the experience. During my time as the Wilson Library Branch Manager, I helped create a writing group in partnership with the Long Wharf Theatre and the Arts Council of New Haven to provide the community with opportunities to develop their skills. I currently serve on New Haven's cultural equity team, and I hope to get a new camera and further develop these skills as they relate to all aspects of my career."
Developing his own story and helping others to tell their own stories is what brought ND Alumnus Luis Chavez-Brumell ’04 to where he is today.