The Toledo Human Relations Commission’s Annual Human Library

Above (L-R): Erin Baker, Chair of the Human Relations Commission and Caryn Maloney Commissioner of the Human Relations Commission
Seated (L-R): Nina Corder, First Vice Chair of the Human Relations Commission and Theresa Alvarado, Chair of Youth Empowerment and Engagement

By Dawn Scotland
The Truth Reporter

The Toledo Human Relations Commission hosted their annual Human Library at The Main Toledo Library Branch Saturday April 27, 2024.The event featured 22 human books that participants could ‘check out’ for 15-minute conversations.

The event aims to remove barriers that divide people by having open dialogue. First started in 2000, the idea was brought to the Human Relations Commission from Owens Community College. Since its inception the event has grown every year to include even more ‘books’ and ‘readers’.

Each participant this year was voted on by the community. The ‘human books’ created a title for their life stories as well as physical table displays. Participants had three hours to connect at the event and listen to an address given by Keynote speaker Erin Baker, Chair of the Human Relations Commission.

“The whole idea is that [the event] facilitates conversations between people who you might not normally come in contact with….[and] to be introduced to ideas, concepts [and] lifestyles that might not be ones that may be in your immediate circle. It’s all about building bridges through conversation to break down barriers and to overcome prejudice and biases which is kind of core to what the Human Relations Commission is all about,” stated Baker.

2024 Human Books Included:

  • Alexicia Sims, educator
  • Benita Robinson, Gender Equity manager for City of Toledo Department of Diversity
  • Dejah Griffith, executive director of Lean on Me Foundation
  • Victor Coleman, motivational speaker
  • Erin Baker, keynote speaker
  • Jesse Squire, educator
  • Jessica Vallejo, doula and licensed massage therapist
  • Leila Harris, student (11 years old)
  • Mykal Mims, violence interrupter for the City of Toledo
  • Sierra Ortiz, associate director of Women of Toledo
  • Sierra Webb, community advocate
  • Arvind Mistry, MD, physician
  • Tony Dible, Overdose Prevention Program coordinator at the Toledo- Lucas County Health Department
  • Sugar Vermonte, entertainer
  • Sena Mourad Friedman, former VP of Operation, Communications and Development at the Fair Housing Center
  • Nikki Orlowski, transgender artist & model
  • Kathryn Tucker, senior vice president, and regional manager of PNC, Bank
  • Judy Lee (Nur-un-nisa) Trautman, initiate of Sufi Ruhaniat International
  • Gabrielle Mukira, former Kid Mayor of Toledo
  • Frida Guzman, founder of “Frida’s Boutique”
  • Diana Vasquez, outreach specialist for Save Our Community
  • Devon Fitzpatrick, social worker
  • Aviance Hill, co-founder of Sisters 4 Unity
  • Alona Matchenko, president of Toledo Helps Ukraine

To learn more about the Human Relations Commission visit: