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CHCI-AA 2020 Chicago Chapter Elections

Candidates for CHCI-AA Chicago Chapter Board
2021-2022 Term

President

María Velázquez
Summer 2014 Congressional Intern

María Velázquez is a Chicago native and the Program Manager of Immigrant Justice Partnerships at the Resurrection Project (TRP), where she is currently supporting the $10M Illinois Access to Justice grant in its inaugural year. This program directs state funds towards holistic legal and support assistance for Illinois’ marginalized communities, immigrants facing deportation, and the formerly incarcerated. As a result, beneficiaries will be able to more seamlessly reintegrate into their families, communities, and the workforce. Prior to joining TRP, María was the Senior Program Coordinator of Youth Initiatives and National Events at the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE). While with HACE, she led the expansion of their high school program El Futuro, coordinated several youth-focused STEM conferences, and expanded the University Leadership Academy & Scholarship program. Prior to HACE, María organized for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). Here, she led naturalization efforts engaging local and national organizations through campaigns such as the New Americans Democracy Project, which mobilized the 2016 immigrant vote in Illinois.

Born and raised in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood to Mexican immigrant parents, María’s work is guided by her passion to connect and support students and young professionals with mentors and career opportunities to promote their growth and advancement. María holds a B.A. in International Studies and Spanish from the University of Iowa, is a lifelong sister of Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, and currently serves on the boards of the CHCI Alumni Association Chicago Chapter (President) and Planned Parenthood’s Future of Choice – Chicago (Member).

Candidate Statement

I’m an alumna from the CIP Summer 2014 class and have been actively engaged with my local board in Chicago since I came back in 2015 after graduating from college. I’ve served in various capacities before running for President of the Chicago Chapter. In addition to my work with the board I continue to support on application reviews whenever possible and promote CHCI programs and events. I am seeking to run for a 2nd term because I still have work I would like to see done locally. This past term has been challenging and fluctuation within board members along with the current pandemic have cause our local engagement to dwindle. I believe and see the potential our board has and know I can lead us to continued growth along with a full and engaged board. My hope, if elected, is to ensure we as a board bring in new alumni and engage them to ensure the continue growth of the Chicago board.

Vice President

EDGAR GONZALEZ, JR.
2013 R2L Next Gen Participant

Edgar Gonzalez, Jr. was born and raised in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood on the Southwest Side and attended Chicago Public Schools. Edgar is the son of immigrants from Monterrey, Mexico, and graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s in Government. Upon graduating, Edgar joined Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia’s in-district constituent services staff, focusing on immigration, social security, veterans’ affairs, criminal justice and education. In January, Edgar was sworn in as the State Representative of Illinois’ 21st House District, becoming the youngest Latino to ever serve in the Illinois General Assembly, and the youngest current legislator in the Assembly. After completing the R2L NextGen program in high school in 2013, he has been a proud CHCI alum and has been engaged the CHCI alumni community in Chicago ever since.

Candidate Statement:

I have been involved in the CHCI alumni community, specifically the Chicago Chapter, ever since I finished the R2L NextGen program in 2013 when I was a rising junior in high school. Since then, my interest in studying and working in government grew. I graduated with my bachelors in government from Harvard University and am now State Representative of Illinois’s 21st House District, and every step of the way, the CHCI-AA Chicago Chapter has been there to support me along the way. It is only fair for me to return the favor by serving on the board and ensure we continue our programming and engagement even during the pandemic. Time commitment will not be an issue, and I will bring my knowledge and expertise to ensure we engage our alumni with effective communication and relevant programming. Given my track record of leadership, it is befitting to run for Vice President.

Secretary

CLAUDIA VALENCIA
Summer 2010 Congressional Internship

Claudia Valencia is the Licensure Recruitment Coordinator for the Illinois State Board of Education, where she leads all aspects of international teacher recruitment for the State of Illinois and builds partnerships with countries via their Embassies and Consulates to develop, promote and encourage international teacher and cultural exchange. Most recently, she served as International Services Coordinator at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where her work focused on advising the F-1 international student population. Her travel experiences and knowledge of different cultures has benefited her greatly in her current and past roles as it has allowed her to practice her work with compassion, empathy and understanding. Claudia is passionate about immigration work and found that was her calling during her time spent serving the community at Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez’s (D-IL) district office in Chicago. Her work over the years has allowed her to learn about the forces that drive individuals to depart their native countries in search of opportunities abroad. This has helped her develop workshops and programs that assist international and immigrant communities navigate U.S. culture in hopes of facilitating their transition to their temporary or permanent new homes.

A Chicago native, Claudia joined the CHCI Alumni Association Chicago Chapter in 2016, first as a general member and later as the chapter’s President. She currently serves as the CHCI-AA National Professional Development Chair. Chicago has a strong base of CHCI alumni and Claudia’s goal was to have the chapter engage with as many local alumni as possible to foster a sense of community through their shared experiences in Washington D.C. and their experiences as young professionals in Chicago. During her spare time, Claudia enjoys spending time with her puggle, Frida and staying up-to-date with current fashion trends.

Candidate Statement:

I strongly believe in the advancement of CHCI as a whole and specifically that of the Alumni Association as it plays an important role in the development of many Latinx leaders. I have been involved with the Alumni Association in multiple roles, first within the Chicago Chapter and most recently as the professional development chair of the CHCI AA National Board and hope to continue to bring my skills to advance the opportunities for prospective program participants and alumni. My familiarity with local and national alumni, multi-year experience in learning the intricacies of local chapters and the national board and my willingness to put in the required work to develop programming that not only reaches alumni but aligns with their interests and needs makes me the perfect candidate for this role.

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