Kena Gilmour ’20.

Working as a social change activist is a slam dunk for Kena Bihi Gilmour ’20, the former Hamilton basketball standout and recipient of the prestigious Soper Merrill Prize, along with other honors during his years on the Hill.

As a strategist for the Action Center on Race and the Economy in New York City, Gilmour mobilizes resources and works with researchers and organizers to achieve economic and social justice for BIPOC and working-class communities.

“My daily activities range from campaign and coalition meetings to writing concept notes to stewarding foundations that align with ACRE’s ethos,” Gilmour said.

The agency serves as a campaign hub for organizations working at the intersection of racial justice and Wall Street accountability and approaches all work through an explicit racial lens. This includes participating in advocacy regarding economic, racial, environmental, labor, and housing justice issues. ACRE’s political branch strives to influence left-of-center political wins.

“I majored in government and minored in women’s and gender studies,” he said. “My interest was in learning how political, economic, and social systems engender marginalization and how those furthest from the center maneuver within these confines.”

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Both disciplines influenced how Gilmour operates within his own world and contributed to his decision to work in the social change space. “The support I received from many at the College helped me develop the confidence and acumen to speak and act upon what I believe,” said the New Paltz, N.Y., native, who comes from a multiethnic home –– on his mother’s side, he and his two siblings are the first generation born in the United States by way of Somalia.

Gilmour plans to further his education with a social justice-oriented graduate degree. “I see myself continuing to advocate for underrepresented groups and systemic change,” he said. “As someone who occupies various traditionally ‘othered’ identities, providing insight, hope, and representation using my personal experiences means a lot to me.”

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