Movers & Shakers: Uzbekistan beginnings to Birmingham living

Read Time 3 Minutes

Meet Mover & Shaker Max Rykov.
In this Bham Now series, we seek out young professionals who have made the decision (sometimes personal, sometimes professional) to move to Birmingham from large, “cool” cities. With these brave uprootings, we want to find out how their Magic City experience has been thus far. In first-hand accounts, see how these young talents are taking in and shaping up our favorite city.

Next up in our Movers & Shakers series is Max Rykov.

Max is a civic-minded government employee, fundraiser, emcee, Freelance Quarterback, and all-around popular guy in Birmingham (although he might not admit that himself).

If you’re a member of I Believe in Birmingham, or if you frequent events around the city, you’re likely familiar with him. Learn more about him below.

My name is Max Rykov. My day job is working in the Public Information Office of the Birmingham City Council. My night job is putting on interactive fundraising events for non-profit organizations, and my weekend job is being a Freelance Quarterback.​

In my role with the Birmingham City Council, I work to find the best ways of communicating what the council is doing, and helping to connect the Council to various organizations and initiatives happening in our city.

A little back story

My family moved to Birmingham as political refugees from the Soviet Union (Tashkent, Uzbekistan) in 1993. I went to Indian Springs School for high school, the University of Alabama for college, and then moved to Northern California for a couple years, where I lived in the ashram of my Spiritual Teacher, Adi Da Samraj. I came back here in 2013, only expecting to live here temporarily. I was intending on moving to Chicago to enroll in the famous Second City comedy/theatre school. I currently live in East Avondale

Shortly after moving back here, I decided to put on an adult spelling bee as a fundraiser for the Desert Island Supply Co, and that lead to me producing, organizing, and hosting dozens of events over the last several years, mostly whimsical stage productions that have benefited numerous non-profit organizations throughout the city.

Organizations I’ve worked with or volunteered with or helped raised money for include:

  • Desert Island Supply Co.
  • Young Education Professionals
  • Lyric Theatre
  • Shout Film Festival
  • Jefferson County Public Defender’s Office
  • Faith in Action Alabama
  • Bib&Tucker Sew Op
  • Jones Valley Teaching Farm
  • Space One Eleven
  • Girls Rock Birmingham
  • The Birmingham History Center
  • The Birmingham International Center
  • Redemptive Cycles
  • ScrollWorks
  • Birmingham Education Foundation
  • Special Session
  • Arova Contemporary Ballet
  • the Magic City Agriculture Project
  • & more

You can check out some of my work at

Making civic engagement fun
Yup, that’s James Spann on the left.
I quickly fell in love with Birmingham–especially with the creative community who embraced and accepted me and my ideas. I met so many people through my work, and from attending events, and I was drawn into a whirlwind of synchronicity where the right people were meeting each other at the right times to work on wonderful projects together.
I’m always thinking about how to blend civics, entertainment, and culture in a way that engages people. I want to make civic engagement fun. I want non-profit fundraising events to be fun. I believe people learn more, and make their way through life with a more positive disposition when they’re playing.
We have many challenges still ahead of us in this city, but we have all the right people here to address them. For whatever reason, I’ve been lucky enough to make connections and build relationships across social, political, and racial lines in Birmingham, and try to harness that network to solve problems and present solutions. Oftentimes, the solution to any issue is simply a matter of introducing the right people to each other.
I have found it very easy to get plugged in, and be involved. People are happy to have you help if you’ve got something of value to offer!


I also run the Awesome Foundation here, which grants $1,000 monthly to community projects.
And now we shake

Are you a Mover & Shaker? Know one? Email to be considered.

Read more in the Movers & Shakers series.

  • Pop culture, crafting, and live concerts are my jam. Let's talk about any and all of the above! Marketing graduate from the University of Montevallo. Fierce Walker Countian. Also known as @hhollaa & @hunnyholla.