June 26, 2024

Meet the Board: Alvaro Manrique Barrenechea, Program Chair


When Alvaro moved to the United States in February 2015, his first U.S. account was with his local library. Despite not having a Social Security number or a U.S.-issued ID, he was able to access the vast resources offered by the library. This experience left an indelible mark on him.  “Every time I visit one of our library branches, I’m reminded of how special it is and how fortunate we are to have such a resource, which isn’t available everywhere,” he says.  

Today, Alvaro serves as the Program Chair of NPLF’s board, finding a meaningful way to give back to an institution that has enriched his life. He volunteers as a member of NPLF’s Board because of his enduring love for the library and the opportunities for learning it offers to the community. Serving on the Program Committee, he witnesses firsthand the profound impact on patrons who access life-changing resources funded by NPLF. 

Among the many programs offered by Nashville Public Library (NPL), Bringing Books to Life holds a special place in Alvaro’s heart. As a father of a 3-year-old, he has witnessed the transformative power of early reading on child development. Growing up in Lima, Peru, Alvaro didn’t have access to a public library system. Seeing his son, Lucas, develop a passion for books on subjects ranging from dinosaurs to firefighters has been an incredible experience. “Books have also helped me become a better parent,” Alvaro shares. “Preparing Lucas for his first international flight was much easier after we checked out ‘Bearplane,’ which explained the journey to him. We’ve used books to help with doctor visits, potty training, and many other milestones.”  

Few people know that Alvaro is a Les Mills certified instructor. His days start at 5:15 a.m. at the Bellevue YMCA, where he leads group fitness classes in the Les Mills SPRINT and BODYPUMP formats. This role allows him to help individuals reach their fitness goals, bringing a different kind of fulfillment to his life. 

Reading has been a crucial part of Alvaro’s journey, especially in building his English vocabulary and language skills. One of his favorite authors, John Grisham, inspired him to pursue a career in law. Recently, Alvaro has reconnected with his Spanish roots, diving into works by Peruvian and Latin American authors. Currently, he is engrossed in Manuel Scorza’s five-part cycle, “The Silent War (La Guerra Silenciosa).” 

In his professional life, Alvaro serves as the director of the Vanderbilt Law School Immigration Clinic. He incorporates visits to the Civil Rights Room at the Main Library to help his students understand the parallels between the challenges faced by their clients and those experienced during the segregation period. “The library’s Civil Rights Room is an excellent place for discussion and learning,” Alvaro says.  

On a more personal note, one of Alvaro’s favorite activities is taking the number 3 bus from his home in Bellevue to the Main Library with his son Lucas. There, they enjoy playing, reading, and watching puppet shows. Alvaro and his wife, Meghan, also look forward to the various events hosted by NPLF, with Picnic with the Library and The Gala being permanent fixtures on their calendar. 

Alvaro’s journey from Lima to Nashville highlights the profound impact libraries can have on individuals and communities. His story is a testament to the importance of supporting Nashville Public Library Foundation and ensuring these invaluable resources remain available to all. 

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