Idea of belonging central to this year's class

The People to Watch class of 2018 has impressive reach, venturing into fields as far flung as art and public transportation. But if there's one thing that unites the seven individuals being honored this year, it's the idea of belonging.

Erin Upchurch, executive director of Kaleidoscope Youth Center, a LGBTQ+ nonprofit, said the word sums up her various pursuits. Even in elementary school, Upchurch was drawn to outsiders, in part, she said, because “I want people to experience belonging.”

A similar drive fuels the art done by Keturah Bobo. Growing up, Bobo had an affinity for dolls, though they never matched her skin tone. Now, she creates illustrations that reflect this full color spectrum, so other brown-skinned girls can grow up seeing themselves on the page, and maybe feel an increased sense of belonging. “I wanted to be that representation for young girls that I didn't have,” she said.

Upchurch and Bobo are joined in People to Watch by Wedgewood activist Zerqa Abid, poet and activist Sara Abou Rashed, EmpowerBus founder Aslyne Rodriguez, fearless state Rep. Bernadine Kennedy Kent and community leader Habiba Bankston. Read on to learn more about this remarkable group and the work they're doing citywide to bring more people into the Columbus fabric.