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One-on-One with Alexis Kerschner Tappan

Alexis Tappan

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Alexis Kerschner Tappan loves Albuquerque, and not just a little bit.

Actually, it’s more like this: Alexis Kerschner Tappan LOVES Albuquerque in an all-capital-letters kind of way – so much so that she admits it’s kind of quirky.

She and two friends launched a sort of Albuquerque admirers’ group called “Stop Bagging, Start Bragging,” and Tappan has started an Instagram account called “EverythingABQ.”

“I’m not taking any money for it,” says Tappan, the incoming chair of the University of New Mexico Alumni Association board. “I just post pictures of things that I do and things that I love about Albuquerque. I think you have to be really excited about Albuquerque to start an Instagram account.”

Tappan, 41, moved here from Maryland when she was 15, went to La Cueva High School and wound up getting a degree in journalism and mass communications from UNM.

She traces her love affair with New Mexico and the state’s largest city to a weeklong honors class called “Sacred Sites of Northern New Mexico.” The students traveled the state in a 15-person van to a Buddhist temple in Taos, a Hindu temple in Santa Fe, a mosque in Abiquiu and the D.H. Lawrence Ranch in Taos.

“You know, by the end of that week, I was sold and that was it,” Tappan says. “Really, for whatever reason, I thought, ‘There is nothing like this in the world,’ and I stayed.”

Tappan opened her strategic marketing company, AKT Communications, 2½ years ago, after working for Rick Johnson & Co. Advertising for eight years and for Central New Mexico Community College for eight years.

Her real start in the business world, though, was her nine-month stint as a management trainee at Enterprise Rent-a-Car, which gave her skills she still appreciates.

“I don’t regret it for a second,” Tappan says. “And I’m still really good at washing cars.”

In line with her personal beliefs, Tappan says, “One of the values of my company is that I don’t work with organizations that aren’t benefiting New Mexico. So I have this really wonderful diverse group of clients that are doing, I think, really great things for the state.”

Among her clients have been Homewise, a nonprofit that seeks to boost homeownership, Southwest Creations Collaborative, the Fiery Foods Show and the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.

But she’s especially proud of the campaign she worked on while at Rick Johnson & Co., helping the city of Roswell publicize its annual UFO Festival from about 2006 to 2008. Tappan describes it as “a hoot and a half.”

She recalls one year when the “Today” show aired live from Roswell during the festival and wanted locals to show up for the broadcast – at about 4 a.m. New Mexico time.

“The entire city of Roswell came out,” Tappan said. “They were the kindest, most generous people and very proud of their city.” But there might be a more personal angle to Tappan’s admiration for Roswell and its UFOs – she’s a die-hard science fiction fan who went to space camp in Alabama when she was a kid.

“Unlike the movie (“Space Camp”), we didn’t get locked in a spaceship and get launched to the moon, but it was really fun,” she says.

What was the motivation behind the Stop Bagging, Start Bragging campaign you started with Annemarie Ciepiela Henton and Emily Howard?

“I really believe that Albuquerque is on the verge of something great. It’s hard to know what that is, but I believe this is a place that has just boundless potential. (But) if we want people to come here and stay here, they need to hear all the reasons we love Albuquerque and New Mexico. One of the things that happens is you become kind of casual with your language when you’ve lived here for a while. A great example of that is ‘mañana’ – how we always tongue-in-cheek it as, ‘Why do we do something today when we can do it tomorrow?’ But instead, a woman I know said this to me: ‘Why doesn’t it mean the land of the future or the land of tomorrow?’ It could so easily have meant that, but it’s gone this other direction. So the whole point is to really think through how we talk about our community and other ways we can say it.”

Explain what you mean by Albuquerque’s “boundless potential.”

“In my mind, one of the reasons we’re at a tipping point is you can still live here. You can own a home here, you can afford to have a life here, and that’s becoming less and less true in places that people want to live. You also have access to friends because traffic isn’t so bad that you sit in traffic for two hours to go 20 miles. And you can have a life here in terms of access to the outdoors and access to higher education – all of those kinds of intangible things that people say, ‘This is great. This is how I want to live.'”

Tell me something that’s on your bucket list.

“My son is in a dual language kindergarten, and I really want to take him to Spanish-speaking countries to grow both his Spanish-language skills and also his view of the world. And then for my business, I want to keep growing it in a way that allows me to do the things I care about, (including) volunteering. I was raised to think both philanthropically through financial support, but also through time. I saw a futurist speak, and she said time was the new commodity, and she’s right. The great thing about time being a commodity is that not everybody has additional income to give, but some do have time.”

What were you like as a kid?

“I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy. I was, and still am, really gregarious and extroverted. I am an only child, and so for me, as an only child, I was always around adults. I was a kind of fun, good-natured kid who always liked adults, but I always had my nose in a book when I wasn’t talking. I’m very similar in personality (now) to how I was as a kid. I always had a lot of good friends.”

What do you and your friends do when you get together?

“A lot of different things. We certainly celebrate Albuquerque’s burgeoning craft brewery scene. We actually just did, a la Marie Kondo (author and decluttering guru), a clothing swap. We hike.”

Do you have any pet peeves?

“Well, yeah. It’s really to stop bagging. It drives me nuts when people complain about Albuquerque and don’t actively do anything like volunteering their time to change things. Again, I’m not naive or blind. There certainly are challenges, but the people who complain about it without actually taking any action to fix it, whatever that means for them, drive me crazy.”

What are your favorite foods?

Roasted, chopped green chile, Big Jim. On everything. I’m a sucker for a really good piece of pizza with green chile. When you work the Fiery Foods Show, you’ll talk to people there, and they’ll say, ‘You guys really put green chile on everything?’ Yeah, we really do.”

What do you want your legacy to be?

“I want my legacy to be that people would look back and say, ‘Because of her, I got connected to something that has benefited my life.’ One of the things that I love more than anything is connecting other people, and not mediating that relationship because then that would be about me, but actually connecting two people. If people can look back and say, ‘Because of her, I now have this, whether it’s a person, or a job or an opportunity or a pet,’ that is a legacy that I would like to leave. And the thing is, I get it now. Your legacy doesn’t always have to be something that happens after you go, but these sorts of things can happen all the time.”

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