This October, Make It Better celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month as we honor Latina leaders who are making Greater Chicagoland a better place.
These dynamic women are among a select group leading nonprofit organizations and government agencies. They possess the qualities of true leaders: confidence, determination, integrity, and passion. And they are as committed to their heritage as they are to improving the lives of others.
Join us in celebrating our Latina leaders!
Dr. Elizabeth Alvarez
Chief of Schools, Network 8, Chicago Public Schools
Mission of your organization: Network 8 strives to empower schools to continuously improve by building strategic network-to-school and school-to-school relationships, providing high quality learning experiences for leaders at all levels, and examining data with a critical eye for problem-solving to improve student achievement.
Chicago Chief of Staff, Office of U.S. Senator Dick Durbin
Mission: To serve Illinois residents.
Executive Director, La Casa Norte
Mission: La Casa Norte’s mission is to serve youth and families confronting homelessness. We provide access to stable housing and deliver comprehensive services that act as a catalyst to transform lives and communities.
Chief Executive Officer, Gads Hill Center
Mission: Since 1898, Gads Hill Center has created opportunities for children and their families to build a better life through education, access to resources, and community engagement.
Chief of Schools for Network 7 (Little Village/Marshall Square/Pilsen neighborhoods), Chicago Public Schools
Mission: Network 7 is a strategic partner with school leaders and staff to drive improvements in instruction, academic culture, and social emotional learning and supports for students, their families, and the community. Our approach is grass roots with partnerships within the communities to support the whole child and their families ensuring a foundation to successful elementary, high school, and college and career experiences. Every Child in Every Classroom in Every School in Every Neighborhood will be successful.
Executive Director, Cubs Charities
Mission: Cubs Charities harnesses the passion of Cubs fans to improve the lives of children and families across Chicago and beyond. Our goal is to provide increased access to sports opportunities and target improvements in health, fitness, and education for those at risk.
Rebeca Nieves Huffman
Executive Director, City Year Chicago; Trustee, City Colleges of Chicago Board
Mission: City Year Chicago’s mission is to reach over half of the off-track students in Chicago Public Schools by providing them with full time Student Success Coaches who help them get on the path toward high school graduation.
Maria E. Wynne Lascarro
Chief Executive Officer, Leadership Greater Chicago
Mission: Leadership Greater Chicago (LGC) is the region’s premiere civic leadership development program. We convene, connect, and mobilize the region’s most promising leaders from the private, nonprofit, and public sectors to affect transformative civic impact across Greater Chicago.
CEO, Mikva Challenge
Mission: Mikva Challenge develops youth to be empowered, informed, and active citizens who will promote a just and equitable society.
President and CEO, Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE)
Mission: To positively impact the American workplace by cultivating the pipeline of Latino talent and providing Latino professionals the insight, access, and support to be successful in their careers.
Natalie C. Neris
Executive Director, Namaste Charter School
Mission: The vision of Namaste Charter School is to empower the whole child to thrive in a complex, interconnected, and changing world.
Executive Director, Enlace Chicago
Mission: Enlace Chicago convenes, organizes, and builds the capacity of Little Village stakeholders to confront systemic inequities and barriers to economic and social access.
Scarleth Lever Ortiz
Office of Diversity and Inclusion Director, Chicago Housing Authority
Mission: The Chicago Housing Authority, the second largest public housing agency in the nation with a $1 billion operating budget, provides homes to more than 63,000 households while supporting healthy communities in neighborhoods throughout the city. Designated a Moving to Work agency by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, CHA has used that flexibility to create innovative partnerships that expand choices and opportunities for the low income families and individuals it serves. At the start of 2018, 63 percent of work-able CHA residents were working and earning a yearly average of almost $22,000. The Chicago Housing Authority is a municipal not-for-profit corporation, governed by a Board of Commissioners consisting of 10 members. The commissioners are appointed by the mayor.
Maria Socorro Pesqueira
President, Healthy Communities Foundation
Mission: We are a community-informed grant making foundation that seeks to measurably improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities in our service area by promoting health equity, quality, and access.
Chief Executive Officer, American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois
Mission: The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors. The Red Cross shelters, feeds, and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. And at the local chapter of the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois serves 9.5 million people in 21 counties.
Chief Operating Officer, The Chicago Community Trust
Mission: The mission of the Chicago Community Trust is to lead and inspire philanthropic efforts that measurably improve the quality of life and the prosperity of our region.
Director of Programs, Chicago United
Mission: Chicago United’s mission is to achieve parity in economic opportunity for people of color by advancing multiracial leadership in corporate governance, executive level management, and business diversity. Working toward the common goal of creating a stronger, more inclusive business climate, Chicago United’s membership includes many of Chicago’s brightest and most accomplished leaders from a variety of professional backgrounds, and more than 95 member companies ranging from large to mid- and small-sized businesses, minority-owned businesses, and civic and nonprofit institutions.
Anna M. Valencia
City Clerk of Chicago, City of Chicago Office of the City Clerk
Mission: City Clerk Valencia has focused on making government accessible to all Chicagoans. Under Valencia’s leadership, the Office of the City Clerk has made it a priority to find new and innovative ways to bring services directly to residents, increase civic engagement, improve efficiencies, and collaborate across government and with the private and public sectors.
Alicia T. Vega
Executive Director, Changing Worlds
Mission: Changing Worlds exists to foster inclusive communities through oral history, writing, and art programs that improve student learning, affirm identity, and enhance cross-cultural understanding.
More inspiring Latina leaders:
- Ana Dutra, CEO, The Executives’ Club of Chicago
- Iliana A. Mora, President and CEO, Women Employed
- Mariana Osoria, Vice President of Centers, Family Focus, Inc.
- Sylvia Puente, Executive Director, Latino Policy Forum
- Anel Ruiz, Director of Public Affairs, Chicago Department of Public Health
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