Toyomi Igus has had a rich and varied writing and communications career. Born Toyomi Lynn Gibson in Iowa City, Iowa, the first child of four from her African American father and Japanese mother, she grew up in Buffalo, New York, and went on to college at Barnard College, Columbia University. After college Igus dove into consumer and trade magazine publishing as an acquiring editor and managing editor, and then on into academic book publishing, revamping and managing the publications unit of the Center for African American Studies at UCLA. Under her editorship, the press produced several books on the African diaspora, including Wilfred Cartey’s Whispers from the Caribbean, Trevor Purcells’ Banana Fallout: Class, Color and Culture Among West Indians in Costa Rica, and the final volume of St. Clair Drake’s Black Folk Here and There. While at UCLA, Igus co-wrote, edited and curated Life in a Day of Black L.A., a collection of photographs of contemporary African-American life by Southern Californian black photographers, a traveling exhibition and book.
Igus published her first children’s book in 1991. To date she has authored six children books, including When I Was Little and Great Women in the Struggle (Just Us Books); Going Back Home (Childrens’ Book Press), winner of the American Book Award and the Skipping Stones Honor, and I See the Rhythm (Childrens’ Book Press), winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, Multicultural Children’s Book Award, and the Jane Addams Picture Book Award, and her very personal Two Mrs. Gibsons (Childrens’ Book Press), which remains on educational recommended book lists around the country.
Igus was one of the featured writers in To the Young Writer: Nine Writers Talk About Their Craft by Hank Nuwer (Franklin Watts Press, 2002). She was also inducted into the Western New York Women’s Hall of Fame in 2004 for her work in promoting literacy among children.
Fron her early work in publishing, Igus went into corporate and marketing comunications. Currently, she is a healthcare and social issues communications strategist, providing communications consulting to various organizations and businesses through her firm, Igus Simon & Associates. She has two children and lives in Los Angeles, California.