Cesar first began working with Enlace Chicago as a member of the Board of Directors when the organization was still named the Little Village Community Development Corporation (LVCDC). He joined the staff a few years later, in 2005, as the New Communities Program Organizer. In this role, he supported the implementation of the 2005 Little Village Quality of Life Plan and developed new initiatives such as B-Ball on the Block, which is still being facilitated by a partner organization. He continued to grow within the organization and took on the role of Economic Development Director, overseeing the Housing Resource Center, the Local Industrial Retention Initiative and several local development projects.
Cesar left Enlace in 2010 and became the 22nd Ward Superintendent for the Department of Streets and Sanitation before he was promoted to District Superintendent. He also had the opportunity to manage capital improvement and maintenance projects for Oak Park Residence Corporation's portfolio of buildings and apartments. He rejoined Enlace’s Board of Directors and then, in 2018, he returned in a staff capacity as Director of Organizing. He transitioned into the role of Associate Director in 2020 and now holds the shared role of Co-Executive Director. His extensive experience working with not-for-profit organizations, as well as his ties to and knowledge of Little Village, serve him well in this role.
Cesar received his Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has a certificate in Urban Development from The Great Cities Institute and Chicago Rehab Network at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He most recently participated in the Neighborhood Builders Emerging Leaders 2020 Cohort and the Latino Policy Forum’s Multicultural Leadership Academy 2020 Cohort.
Marcela, otherwise known as "Marcy," came to Enlace in 2019. She is an accomplished finance, human resources, program and operations manager with an established record of success in stewarding the resources of organizations and institutions focused on education, social services, social justice, economic development, youth employment, community development and community organizing. She has years of experience in leadership positions at other community-based organizations, including Brighton Park Neighborhood Council and The Resurrection Project, located in predominantly Latinx neighborhoods on the southwest side of Chicago. She has a bachelor's degree in Accounting from Roosevelt University and is pursuing a master’s degree in Public Administration. Marcy was born and raised in Torreon, Coahuila Mexico until the age of 7. She and her family migrated to the United States and settled in Little Village in 1980. Marcy is married with four kids and a granddaughter.
Since 2012, Erica has played a number of roles at Enlace. In her current role of Development Director, she oversees fundraising and marketing strategy for the organization. As Institutional Giving Manager, she managed Enlace’s diverse and extensive grants portfolio and, as the Executive Assistant, she ensured efficiency and consistency in operations and administration across the organization. While she was Lead Community Organizer, she worked closely with staff to formalize and facilitate the Enlace Leadership Academy; this led to over 150 leaders participating during that time. She also convened a local network focused on increasing access to basic needs. Prior to coming to Enlace, she was a Community Relations Coordinator at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, where she managed partnerships with over 125 organizations in predominantly Latinx communities. She was also a regular volunteer with the Center for Economic Progress for over 10 years, where she provided free assistance in filing tax returns in North Lawndale and Pilsen. In all of her roles, she has been instrumental in launching and sustaining new initiatives. She graduated with an Associate of Science from Moraine Valley and a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from University of Illinois at Chicago. Erica was born and raised in Little Village and currently lives here with her son.
Director of Operations
Charles began working at Enlace in 2010, with the launch of the Safe Passage program at Farragut Career Academy. He was instrumental in developing a strong structure for this program that led to its sustainability and growth – it now boasts over 50 staff and over ten local school partners, and Enlace has been asked to support the development and supervision of Safe Passage programs in other communities across the city. He was hired as Director of Operations in 2019, right before the opening of Enlace’s new office and community center. In this position, he is able to build on his many years of service at Enlace, as well as his almost ten years of experience in the military and in the trades. He has also played the role of Executive Director for the Chicago Youth Boxing Club, which runs a boxing gym and youth program on the border of Little Village and North Lawndale, and is a minister and bible teacher. Charles has a strong belief that the greatest leader is the greatest servant.
Alisha Garcia Flores
Director of Evaluation
Alisha is a youth development veteran with over 15 years of experience developing youth and family support programs as well as leading staff in building quality assurance systems. She is passionate about participatory and asset-based approaches to community development, as well as supporting staff in continuous improvement practices to ensure that high quality services are offered in the community. She is a community advocate who is dedicated to social justice, restorative practices and systemic changes that promote opportunities and advancement of marginalized groups of people.
Her experience began in small nonprofits and church outreach ministries in Detroit and Lansing, Michigan, where she provided tailored academic, social-emotional and extra-curricular afterschool programs. Since 2003, she has directed and managed educational programs serving families in Chicago communities such as Little Village, Lawndale, Austin and Englewood. Working in partnership with public and charter schools as well as diverse community stakeholders and funders, she has lead teams in developing holistic community development approaches and high quality evaluation efforts. As an evaluator and researcher, she has also contributed to projects connected to the New Communities Program (LISC), 21st Century Community Learning Programs, and Illinois State Afterschool standards/assessments. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Management from Central Michigan University and a Master’s in Urban Planning and Policy from University of Illinois at Chicago. She also has certifications in teaching English (TEFL) and in Youth Development (YPQI) as a methods trainer and external assessor.
Director of Human Resources
Karina came to Enlace in 2021 with almost ten years of experience in the fields of human resources and non-profit law. She played the role of Director of Human Resources at both Children’s Home and Aid and Metropolitan Family Services (MFS), and supported the work of attorneys at MFS and Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. She is a co-author of Latinas Rising Up in HR and she focuses on educating employees about how to strengthen the employer-employee relationship through identifying and resolving workplace issues. Karina received her Juris Doctorate from Western Michigan Thomas Cooley Law School and her BA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has two sons and she dedicates her time as a volunteer at a number of organizations, including the University of Illinois Latino Latina Alumni Association and Boys Scouts of America.
Director of Finance
Before becoming Enlace’s Director of Finance in 2021, Lorraine had over 40 years of diverse experience in the field. She started her career as a banker at The First National Bank of Chicago and Seaway Bank. She spent over ten years working at the City of Chicago as the Assistant Commissioner of Finance and Administration for the Department of Housing and as the Deputy Commissioner of Finance and Contracts for the Department of Human Services; in these roles, she managed millions of grant dollars and multiple programs focused on affordable housing, homelessness prevention, early childhood education, youth development and family violence. She worked at Heartland Alliance for seven years, during which she played the roles of Controller for programs focused on unaccompanied children, human trafficking, immigrant and refugee placement, workforce development, and juvenile justice. She was also their Director of Compliance and Financial Risk Management, a role which brought her to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. At the American Bar Association and Christian Community Health Center, she managed a number of large government grants. Lorraine received her BSBA in Accounting from Roosevelt University and she is the recipient of the Chicago Defender Women of Excellence Award, the Mayor Richard M. Daley Service Award and the Heartland Alliance Leadership Award. She is married and has two children.
Director of Education
Astrid came to Enlace in 2015 as the Little Village Education Collaborative (LVEC) Coordinator. In this role, she convened a network of over 45 partners and community leaders focused on creating systems and policy changes that reinforce educational attainment in Little Village. She transitioned to become Education Director in 2019. In this role, she oversees diverse initiatives that focus on all aspects of the education system, from early childhood to postsecondary to adult education. She supported in the creation of the citywide SEL@Home Collaborative Action Project; informed the development and framing of the report published by University of Chicago’s Chapin Hall, titled “Finding Child Care in Two Chicago Communities: The Voices of Latina Mothers”; and provided strategic support to National Lewis University during the development of their Clave Doctoral Fellowship, which is designed to develop and support a network of promising, diverse ethnic/racial heritage doctoral scholars traditionally underrepresented in higher education, with priority given to individuals of Latinx backgrounds. She came to Enlace with years of experience in curriculum and program development and facilitation, as well as in organizing, policy advocacy, community-driven planning and research. Her work has been focused in low-income communities of color both in Chicago and in Colombia, her birthplace. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Master’s in Instructional Leadership and Educational Policy. She received a BA in Social Work from the University Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellín, Colombia, where she specialized in Social Research, focused on the Creation of a Rural Region of Development (El Cairo).
Director of Community Health
Amanda has been supervising health programming at Enlace since 2015. She has over ten years of experience in the field of public health and has managed programs in Little Village since 2012. Her prior experience includes extensive work with immigrant and low-income populations touching on a variety of equity-related issues including chronic disease prevention, women’s health and youth development. She holds a Master of Public Health degree in Community Health Sciences from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a Little Village resident.
Director of Violence Prevention
Jacqueline began working at Enlace in 2017 when she was hired as a School-Based Counselor at Community Links High School and Farragut Career Academy. In early 2018, she transitioned into the role of Mental Health Program Coordinator, in which she supervised the work of School-Based Counselors, managed school partnerships, and ensured alignment with Enlace’s violence prevention and school-based initiatives. When the Violence Prevention Manager took a leave from the organization, she stepped in as Interim Manager and took leadership during a very difficult time. She was finally hired as Violence Prevention Director at the end of 2018. She has experience as an Early Head Start Home Visitor at El Hogar Del Nino, where she also completed her graduate internship as a Family Support Specialist. She also has volunteer experience with the Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and Connections for Abused Women and their Children. Jacqueline holds a Master of Social Work degree from Dominican University and a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from Northeastern Illinois University. She has also played a leadership role with the Alliance for Student Social Workers.
Director of Community Schools
Lissette came to Enlace in 2021 with over 25 years of experience in the field. She spent 20 years at Logan Square Neighborhood Association, first as a Community Schools Resource Coordinator and later as the Program Director of their community schools initiative, which included five public schools. In addition to supporting Resource Coordinators with program and partnership development, participant recruitment and retention, evaluation and data collection, and budget management, she worked hard to ensure that programming was responsive to the needs of English-language learners and spearheaded a partnership with the City College of Chicago to provide adult education and family literacy programming. She also supported the efforts of Grow Your Own Illinois, which focuses on supporting people of color in becoming public school teachers, where she later became a Program Director. In all of her roles, including as a bilingual teacher, she has advocated for educational equity for immigrant communities and communities of color. Lissette received a BA from Northeastern Illinois University and an MA in Educational Leadership in Higher Education, also from Northeastern. She is a graduate of the Illinois Latino Nonprofit Leadership Academy and received an award for Prestigious Leadership for a Changing World from the Ford Foundation in 2005. In 2014, she co-authored an article with Tammy Oberg De La Garza entitled Building Strong Community Partnerships: Equal Voice and Mutual Benefits, which was published in the Journal of Latinos and Education. She was born in Chicago to Mexican parents, moved with her family to Guadalajara, Jalisco at the age of 12, and moved back to Chicago. She is a wife and mother of three children.