Elena’s commitment to social justice started at a young age, when she saw her mother in Aguascalientes, Mexico helping the neighbors who, at times, did not even have a piece of bread to eat. When she came to Chicago, she joined the Young Christian Workers, the Juventud Obrera Católica, and worked to support immigrant workers rights.
When her sons started school, she saw the appalling conditions and overcrowding in the schools. She was elected to a Local School Council in 1989. While working for Neighborhood Housing Services, she was also part of the community board of the South Lawndale Health Center, now the Dr. Jorge Prieto Health Center. The center opened in 1995 with the support of Lutheran Foundation the Director of the Cook County Hospital. The new facility significantly increased size and capacity, allowing the center to provide more services to the community. She also served on a task force at the Chicago History Museum to create the permanent exhibition Neighborhood Voices.
Elena lives in Little Village where she is a member of Enlace Chicago and is a commissioner for the Special Service Area #25, which works to enhance and promote commercial areas. She is active at Epiphany Parish and is a member of the parish council. She is also member of an organization that promotes culture, opportunities and education of the Zacatecano community throughout the Midwest and Mexico.
She is very proud that her sons are activists too. They were part of the group of students that filed a lawsuit through the ACLU to ensure that the expansion of the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences was built in the Mount Greenwood community, despite opposition from the surrounding predominantly white community. Although Elena is slowing down on her activism as she gets older, as her spiritual guide used to tell the “Jocistas,” it is in your blood and you cannot run away from it.
To learn more about Elena, check out these links: