The 26th Ward is part of my family’s history, and it is where I have had the great pleasure of living most of my life. My family moved into the neighborhood in 1957 and has remained here since then. My parents passed down stories about my grandparents working in the nearby factories in Wicker Park, and the lifelong friends they met on the assembly lines. This is a classic Chicago story, and growing up in a community where everyone knew their neighbors was truly a blessing. The 26th Ward community is part of my extended family, and the sense of safety in the community that existed then is what we need to strive for now.
The Chicago I remember was a post-World War II economic beacon, beaming with opportunity and optimism. My mother’s parents migrated to Chicago in the mid-1950s from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. My father’s side of the family migrated to Chicago from Mexico. Just like many other families, we found refuge, community, and love in West Town and the surrounding neighborhoods of our great city. Our story is fundamentally American, where freedom and hard work leads to success and happiness.
I’m a product of our culturally diverse city. In addition to attending Mitchell Elementary School and St. Nicholas Cathedral School, I attended Onward House as a child from preschool through middle school for after-school and summer camp programs. The programs at Onward House gave me the necessary opportunity and head-start all children need to prepare them for success into adult life. This is why I am a firm supporter of early childhood development and after-school programs – they are a necessity to help keep our children productive, safe and off-the-streets.
I grew up playing sports at Smith Park, I practically lived at the park. During my teenage years at Gordon Tech High School, I chose to volunteer at the local park, refereeing hockey in the winter and umpiring baseball during the summer. My involvement at the park led to a job with the Chicago Park District as a Summer Camp Counselor during the early 2000s. Also while at Gordon Tech, I played the clarinet within the high school band. I'm a strong believer in the power of the arts. We need to continue to encourage all children to develop their creativity in our schools and after-school programs.
After high school, I attended Loyola University Chicago where I graduated with majors in Economics and Finance. While at Loyola, I studied economic growth and development abroad in Dublin, Ireland, and had internships at Morgan Stanley and Cosmopolitan Bank & Trust. After graduating, I joined the world of finance, gaining over 13 years of industry experience.
I decided to leave the private sector in order to pursue opportunities closer to home, as a minority business owner. Since I’ve always been fascinated with architecture, I developed Chicago’s first all co-living building - a new form of housing in Chicago. As a finance and real estate expert, I’ve gained great insight on systemic issues currently burdening our communities. The current reckless real estate tax hikes are driving-out and displacing long-term residents, which are the very fabric of our communities. I intend to continue working closely with our community’s stakeholders, business owners, residents and elected officials to make sure everyone can live comfortably within their own homes, in the 26th Ward.
Some of my community involvement has included serving on the non-profit junior-boards for Breakthrough Urban Ministries (2015-2017), By The Hand Club for Kids (2015-2017), and as the Treasurer of the Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Association (2017).