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.
Deputy Director of Programs
Lissette was hired as the Community Schools Director at Enlace in 2021, and she took on the newly created role of Deputy Director of Programs in 2023. She came to Enlace 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.
Deputy Director of Administration
Carla Peralta brings over 30 years of technology and administrative experience to Enlace. Carla began her story in Little Village first at McCormick school and then Kanoon Magnet. Carla has worked at the University of Chicago as a grant manager and database administrator, for Apple for five years, first as the Technical Lead for a technical department and then as the support manager for the higher education sales team. After starting a family, she served as Director of Technology in middle and high schools for ten years in the City of Chicago. Throughout this journey, Carla has created teams across middle school, high school, and across entire organizations to bring technology as a resource for education and system effectiveness. Carla is an avid technology enthusiast, but is also a lifelong learner in the areas of history, cinema, cooking, and science fiction.
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.
Assistant Director of Community Health
Before coming to Enlace, Jadhira played a variety of roles at non-profits on the southwest side; these include the YMCA’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention Program, San Obrero Mission, and Mujeres Latinas en Acción. In addition to working in predominantly Latinx communities, she has experience working with youth who have experienced trauma, people experiencing homelessness, domestic violence survivors and perpetrators, veterans, and people living with disabilities. In the fall of 2020, a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic, she became Enlace’s Assistant Director of Community Health and supported the creation of a much needed pandemic response team. This team focuses on connecting community members to food, housing, healthcare, mental health services, and COVID testing and vaccination, as well as supporting them with applications for emergency financial assistance for things like rent, mortgage and utility bills. Jadhira grew up in Little Village and has a Masters in Social Work from Dominican University and a Bachelors of Arts in Social Work from Northeastern Illinois University.
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.