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Meet Our Inaugural Class Fellows

The CLCF Leadership Academy is proud to introduce its inaugural class of 2019! The cohort is made up 25 (11 female; 14 male) talented and diverse professionals who have unique journeys, compelling stories, and share a vision and passion for the mobilization of Chicago’s Latino community.


  • GERALD ‘JERRY’ ALDER
    is the grandchild of immigrant grandparents from Monterrey and Guanajuato, Mexico who arrived to the West side of Chicago. Jerry is currently one of two Latino Vice Presidents at Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) that serves the administration of President Dorval Carter. Jerry is currently an active member of the Associate Board of Saint Anthony Hospital Foundation. Jerry now resides in the neighborhood of Wicker Park with his expecting wife, and two year old daughter.

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  • OSVALDO CABALLERO
    obtained an MSW from the UIC-JACSW, is an LCSW with over 25 years of experience in the field of violence prevention and intervention. He is Program Manager for the Adult Protective Services Program at Metropolitan Family Services and an Instructor for the Social Work Program at Northeastern Illinois University.

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  • IRIS CHAVIRA
    is an Assistant Corporation Counsel in the Federal Civil Rights Litigation Division with the City of Chicago Department of Law. In 2017, Iris was honored with the prestigious HNBA’s Top Lawyers Under 40 Award, HLAI’s Community Service Award and Above and Beyond Award. She received her Juris Doctor from DePaul University and resides in the Pilsen community with her family.

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  • DAVID DIAZ
    is an Aldermanic Aide who helps serve the City of Chicago’s 1st Ward. In his role, David has helped coordinate a 2-phase capital improvement project at A.N. Pritzker School. David has an MA in political science from Northeastern Illinois University, and is looking to further expand his skill sets in urban political economy and community development. David has a forthcoming academic article to be published in the Journal of Human Security Studies and presented his findings at the 2018 Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Conference in Chicago.

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  • ISABEL FABRE
    is the Manager of Large Customer Services at ComEd. She leads a diverse group of 35 team members who manage large commercial and industrial accounts. She holds an MBA from the Pennsylvania State University with a double major in Finance and International Business. She is Cuban-Puerto Rican.

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  • STELLA GAYTAN
    held an integral role in the development and growth of a fast paced successful family business. Her expertise in business development attributed to the company’s growth from 50% to 150% throughout her tenure. Stella currently serves on the Board of Advisors for Catholic Charities, including the Latino Advisors’ Subcommittee, and UNO community organization.

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  • RODOLFO GUERRERO
    is an Information Technology Professional with Allstate. He has diverse experience in information technology implementing strategy, business process and technology projects in domestic and international settings in the insurance, education, utility, automotive and retail industries.

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  • MARTHA-VICTORIA JIMENEZ
    a proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, is a lifelong Chicagoan, a product of Chicago Public Schools, and an alumna of University of Illinois College of Law. She is a skilled litigator with over 15 years of experience specializing in Municipal Litigation and currently serves as Senior Counsel in the City of Chicago’s Law Department.

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  • JANICE LOPEZ
    is the Managing Director of Entrepreneurial Services at the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC), serving the small business community for 22 years. She received her B.S. in Finance from Northeastern Illinois University and currently lives in the Belmont Cragin community with her husband, Marcelino and their pitbull, Ziggy.

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  • DOLORES MUNOZ
    serves as an Associate Client Services Representative at Cabrera Capital Markets where she focuses on business development and public pension plan outreach. In her role, she continues to successfully scale the professional ladder in a male dominated industry. She is a licensee candidate for the Series 57 Securities Trader Representative and additionally holds professional securities licenses Series 7 and 63.

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  • MARTIN MONTES
    is the Director of Regulatory Affairs for Commonwealth Edison overseeing the day-to-day strategic outreach and interactions with the Illinois Commerce Commission. He holds a BS in Finance from UIC and a J.D. from Indiana University School of Law—Bloomington. He currently lives in Logan Square and is a proud father of his “Three Kings” Marcus (15), Michael (13) and Samuel (11).

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  • CESAR OROZCO
    is the Director of Government and Community Affairs at the Illinois State Comptroller. He leads a team of 20 employees dedicated to debt recovery, administers goal planning and monitoring, oversees regulatory matters and protest adjudication, and provides advice on legal and public policy matters to the Comptroller.

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  • MANNY OZAETA
    most recently was the Director of the Hispanic Technology Incubator, a program established at 1871 in partnership with the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Inspired by the innovation created by fellow entrepreneurs, he is currently pursuing his own small business endeavor.

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  • JIHOVANNY CORREA-PANIAGUA
    was born in Zacatecas, Mexico and like many other families across the city, his family migrated to Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood when he was 5 years old. He is a Chicago Public School alumni and holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Illinois State University. Currently, he serves as a Project Manager/Project Engineer with CSI 3000 overseeing the completion of civil projects at the local, city and state levels.

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  • J. MARCOS PETERSON
    a Chicagoland native, has dedicated his career to empowering underserved communities. He focuses his energy on communities around Illinois including the Latino community, LGBTQ+ community, Greek Community, religious communities, Veterans, and Law Enforcement. Currently, he serves as an advisor to Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.

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  • CHRISTINA RIVERO
    is a Legislative Coordinator in the Office of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Prior to joining the County’s Government Affairs team, she spent over ten years as a grassroots community and labor organizer with a variety of organizations throughout Illinois. As the daughter of immigrants and family of refugees, she understands the importance of representation in leadership, amplifying community voices and engaging in collective action.

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  • MILTON RODRIGUEZ
    is Vice President of Growth Strategy & Development for KIPP Chicago. He has over 20 years of social sector organizational and business development experience, leading the efforts of some of the premier nonprofit organizations serving the Chicago region. A proven expert in fundraising, resource development and nonprofit management, his leadership has impacted the lives of countless community members.

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  • ARTURO ROMO
    was born and raised in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood. Arturo moved away from home at a young age to attend high school via a residential scholarship program and subsequently went on to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Currently he works as Assistant to 12th Ward Alderman George A. Cardenas where he connects countless Spanish, Mandarin and English-speaking residents and local businesses to city services.

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  • GERARDO TRISTAN
    is an Assistant State’s Attorney serving Cook County, Illinois in the Felony Trial Division. Prior to this role, he was an attorney at Tristan Ports, LLC, now Tristan and Cervantes, where he represented a wide client base with issues of labor law, real estate law, and corporate law. He is a member of the Illinois Bar and has served in various capacities on several professional organizations including the Chicago Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois, National Prosecutor’s Bar Association, and the National Hispanic Bar Association.

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  • ERIC VAZQUEZ
    Eric is a native Chicagoan and Design Thinking practitioner. Eric’s work has been covered in publications of “Government Technology“, “Medium” and “Microsoft“. Eric is a frequent speaker throughout Chicago on implementation of design thinking principles in the Public and Private sectors.

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  • CRISTINA VILLARREAL
    was raised in Wheeling, IL and attended DePaul College of Law. She currently lives on the Northside of Chicago and is the Director of Public Affairs at the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services.

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  • ANGELICA ALFARO
    is a proud Latina, daughter of Mexican immigrants, and a first-generation college graduate. She was born and raised in Chicago’s Humboldt Park community and has made it her life’s mission to improve access to quality education for both the black and brown communities. Currently, she is serving as Manager of Legislative Affairs at the Chicago Department of Public Health working on policy and government affairs. She is a 2016 Edgar Fellow, loves to volunteer and mentor young women, enjoys horseback riding, running, and playing volleyball with her family.

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  • ERNESTO MATIAS
    was raised in Humboldt Park Chicago. He served as Chief of Schools for Network 4 for three years and was promoted to Academic Chief of the Office of Language and Cultural Education. In this capacity, he is responsible for all of the English Language Learners, Refugees, Native Americans and World Languages taught in Chicago Public Schools. Dr. Matias was named to the 2018 cohort of the McCormick Foundation Executive Fellows program.

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  • CECILIA SALINAS
    is a Staff Assistant for Alderman Joe Moore in Chicago’s 49th ward. Cecilia has a lengthy history in advocating and lobbying for equity in education, immigration rights and reform, fair housing policy, and financial literacy programs. Cecilia immigrated to Chicago from Caracas, Venezuela in 1999 and remains active as a founding board member of Illinois Venezuelan Alliance (IVA), an organization that seeks to serve Venezuelans in Illinois from the educational, civic, political, and humanitarian perspective.

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  • VANESSA VALENTIN
    was born in Puerto Rico and has lived in Chicago for 27 years. She is the Director of Community Organizing at Northwest Side Housing Center. As a long-term resident of the Northwest Side she believes that every child deserves access to quality education and that all constituencies should have access to resources for affordable housing and foreclosure prevention.

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