Hispanic Heritage Month Series

By: Ashmar Mandou

In our last week of celebrating the immense contributions for their work in education, business, and the arts during Hispanic Heritage Month, we hope the individuals highlighted this week serve as a reminder that no dream is too big and that their stories and experiences are embedded into the fabric of American society.

Maggie Perales
Parent Mentor Program Administrator

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsPerales first began working with Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) in March 1997 and although she did not have a concrete role at the time, she was sure she wanted to focus on anti-violence. Perales currently works as the Parent Mentor Program Administrator where she manages the 20 schools where SWOP has their Parent Mentor program and works in partnership with LSNA in decision making on the statewide level. Through this she also works with the financial grant provided by the state of Illinois. In her free time, Perales dedicates herself to prayer life in 2 sessions a year where she teaches different methods of prayer. Parent Mentors, mainly Latina and Black mothers, help fill persistent equity gaps by volunteering in classrooms for 2 hours/day for at least 100 hours. The Parent Mentors are supported by weekly training on class-room instructional practices and leadership training. As a result, they support each other to pursue their goals and unite the school community for long term change.

Nancy García Loza

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsGarcía Loza is an award-winning, self-taught, and self-proclaimed pocha playwright rooted in Chicago, Illinois and Jalisco, México. Her play, Pénjamo: A Pocha Road Trip Story, is a new commission by the National Museum of Mexican Art (NMMA), with major support by the National Endowment for the Arts and a 2022 Joyce Award. She is also currently developing work for Steppenwolf Theatre Company and has received recognition from the Association of Performing Arts Professionals ArtsForward Award, the Dramatists’ Guild Council’s Lanford Wilson Award, and American Theatre magazine’s podcast series, “The Subtext.” García Loza is a two-time alumna of the national Fornés Playwriting Workshop. Her work has been developed with Goodman Theatre, Steppenwolf, Paramount Theatre (with support by Chicago Latino Theater Alliance), The New Harmony Project, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, SPACE on Ryder Farm, Chicago Dramatists Tutterow Fellowship, and more.

Adela Vargas
Operations Dispatcher at ComEd

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsVargas is the first female Latina to achieve the position of operations dispatcher, senior distribution dispatcher and emergent work manager at ComEd. Vargas takes pride in her role keeping the lights on for families across Chicagoland and is always looking for ways to support the next generation of clean energy professionals. Vargas started her journey at the Customer Care Center, yet it was her transition to the Joliet Operations Control Center (OCC) where her passion for operations began and where there were only two other women in her role. “I was so grateful for the opportunity. Just being a public servant—being able to power lives—you get a sense of accomplishment every day,” said Vargas.

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