Read biographies of feature guests for the 2017 Law & Government Networking Forum being held November 15 at Fulton Market Company in Chicago's trendy West Loop neighborhood!
Marty Castro, President - Castro Synergies, Interim Executive Director, Casa Central
Marty Castro is the President and CEO of Castro Synergies, LLC, which provides strategic consulting services to corporations, entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations that seek to collaborate with and have a positive social impact on diverse communities.
Mr. Castro was appointed by President Barack Obama to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in January of 2011. In March 2011, President Obama elevated Mr. Castro to the position of Chairperson of the USCCR, making him the agency's eighth Chair since the formation of the Commission, and the first Latino Chairperson in the over half-century history of the USCCR.
In December 2009, Mr. Castro was appointed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to Chair the Illinois Human Rights Commission. The Human Rights Commission is the State public body that arbitrates complaints of civil rights violations in housing, employment, public accommodations and financial credit.
Mr. Castro is on the board of directors of the National Museum of Mexican Art; the only accredited Latino Museum in the United States. He also serves on the board of the Chicago Community Trust. Mr. Castro is also chair and co-founder of New Futuro, LLC. Mr. Castro is a former national board member of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and former chair of the Hispanic National Bar Association's U.S. Supreme Court Committee. Mr. Castro is also the former chair of the Judicial Nominations Commission for the Northern District of Illinois, by appointment of U.S. Senator Richard Durbin.
For his leadership and accomplishments, Mr. Castro has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the National Medical Fellowships' Humanitarian Award; the Hispanic National Bar Association's Cesar Chavez Humanitarian Award; the Edwin A. Rothschild Civil Liberties Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois; and the Thurgood Marshall Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Corporate Counsel, Chicago Chapter.
Mr. Castro is the proud product of Head Start and affirmative action in higher education. He received his B.A. in political science in 1985 from DePaul University and his Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Michigan Law School in 1988. Mr. Castro was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Roosevelt University in December 2011 for his work in the area of social justice.
Currently Mr. Castro serves as Interim President and CEO of Casa Central, a Chicago non-profit serving the Hispanic community. Mr. Castro provides executive leadership and assists Casa Central in strengthening its relationships with partners, donors, and advocates.
Nancy Andrade, Lead Counsel, Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & Responsibilities, American Bar Association
Nancy C. Andrade is Lead Counsel to the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights & Responsibilities (Hispanic Commission). In this capacity she works internally within the ABA and externally with national and local organizations to address the challenges and responsibilities facing Hispanics in and within the legal system of the United States. The ABA is the premier volunteer association of lawyers and law students in the United States.
Prior to joining the ABA, Ms. Andrade was an entrepreneur having started Mexifeast Foods, Inc., which sold traditional and high end Mexican tamales throughout the Midwest. She was known as the “Tamale Lawyer” and was named the 2009 Latina Entrepreneur of the Year Award by Latina Style Magazine. Her legal experience includes both large firm and public interest law having practiced in the Financial Services and Corporate Divisions at Katten Muchin Rosenman and the Chicago Legal Clinic, Inc. Her civic and professional affiliations include: appointed to City of Chicago, Board of Ethics by Mayor Rahm Emanuel; Illinois Department of Public Health, Disability Advisory Board; and Fellow, American Bar Foundation. In 2017 she was recognized by Negocios Now for her achievements in Law as a Who’s Who in Chicago Hispanic Power.
Ms. Andrade is a graduate of The Catholic University, Columbus School of Law and Loyola University Chicago where she received her B.A. in Political Science. She is the proud mother of 6 year old Mateo who happened to be blessed with an extra 21st chromosome. Both mother and son are very active members of the Down Syndrome community.
Vincent Casillas, President & CEO, Casillas Strategies
Vincent Casillas founded Casillas Strategies in 2011 and presently serves as CEO. Casillas Strategies is a full service Public Affairs firm which specializes in Strategic Communications & Outreach, Messaging & Branding, Latino Marketing and Government Relations/Lobbying. Recent clients have included, Exelon, New Schools for Chicago, PACO Collective, One Chance Illinois, the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, Independent Maps and Interactive Financial Advisors. Prior to this Casillas was a Partner at Balsera Communications out of Miami, Florida where he was brought in to oversee operations and business development at the agency's Washington D.C. office. Under the leadership of Casillas the firm provided services to the Obama administration, including the Department of Labor, Department of Interior, the Federal Communications Commission and the White House.
In 2008 Casillas was the National Hispanic Communications Director for the Obama for America Presidential campaign. In this capacity he served as a primary campaign spokesperson and worked with national Spanish language press outlets to coordinate interviews with the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates. This included providing policy briefings for the candidates. He also coordinated all Spanish speaking surrogate interviews on behalf of the Obama campaign.
Before working on the Obama for America campaign, Casillas was the Lead organizer and Lobbyist to the Illinois Latino Caucus for A+ Illinois, a coalition that was created to mobilize communities and lobby state Legislators to change the way Illinois funds public education.
Casillas got involved in politics after being inspired by the 2007 immigration marches and subsequently worked on his first political campaign as a Coordinator for the Richard M. Daley for Mayor 2007 campaign and then the Iris Martinez for State Senator Campaign as a Strategist. Casillas has also worked for organizations like Greater West Town Academy, Erie Neighborhood House, Lifelink, Illinois Latino Coalition for Prevention, Dominican University and Harold Washington College.
Christian Gutierrez, Director of Latino Affairs at Office of the Governor - Illinois, Bruce Rauner
Christian Gutierrez is a results-oriented public service professional with expertise in Public Affairs and Government Relations and who brings a wide breadth of relationships within the Latino Community across Illinois. He has worked in state government since March of 2009 where he began his career with the Senate Republican Caucus under Leader Christine Radogno. Christian has spearheaded high visibility projects to increase Latino representation within the State of Illinois and has successfully developed and executed numerous high impact community outreach programs. He also brings a banking background and over 10 years of management experience. He has been a member of leading Latino non-profit organizations (local and national). His involvement in the Latino community has allowed him to create a tangible presence among key community stakeholders. He currently serves as President of the Emerging Leaders Board for the National Latino Education Institute in Chicago.
Christian currently works as Director of Latino Affairs for the Office of the Governor, Bruce Rauner. Within his role as Director, he manages a variety of projects and serves as a liaison to government officials and community stakeholders, identifying key policies and programs that can benefit constituents and working to strengthen the Governor’s office through its effort to improve efficiency, transparency and accountability within State Government.
Martin A. Sandoval, Illinois State Senator, 11th Senate District
Senator Martin A. Sandoval was born and raised in Back of the Yards, a neighborhood on Chicago’s Southwest side. He is a graduate of Quigley Preparatory Seminary South High School and Loyola University in Chicago where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology.
Senator Sandoval’s commitment to public service has spanned more than thirty years. He served in the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency between 1984 and 1999, and later in 1999 then Illinois Governor George Ryan and Chicago Mayor Richard Daley appointed him as the first Latino to the position of Commissioner of Water Reclamation of Greater Chicago. On January 8, 2003, Senator Sandoval was sworn into office in the newly created 12th Legislative District, becoming one of four Latinos to be elected to the Illinois State Senate of the 93rd General Assembly.
Now serving his fifth term, Senator Sandoval is the Co-chair of the Illinois Legislative Latino Caucus, Chairman of the Illinois Senate Transportation Committee, and Vice-chairman of the Senate Energy Committee. Today, he represents the 11th Senate District, which includes the neighborhoods of Brighton Park, Clearing, Gage Park, Garfield Ridge, Little Village, West Lawn, and West Cook municipalities of Bedford Park, Burbank, Cicero, Forest View, Lyons, McCook, Stickney, Summit and Riverside.
Anna Valencia, City Clerk, City of Chicago
Anna Valencia was sworn-in as City Clerk of Chicago on January 25, 2017 overseeing one of the largest offices in the City serving 1.2 million Chicagoans and generating more than $130 million annually.
As City Clerk, Valencia has focused on making government accessible to all Chicagoans. Under Valencia’s leadership, the Office of the City Clerk has made it a priority to find new and innovative ways to bring services directly to residents, increase civic engagement, improve efficiencies and collaborate across government in the private and public sectors.
Valencia has also been charged with implementing the Municipal ID program which will roll out later this year. Available to all Chicago residents, this government-issued ID will combine access to government and city services into one card.
Prior to becoming Clerk, Valencia served as the second woman and first Latina to run Mayor Emanuel’s Legislative Counsel and Government Affairs (LCGA) where she spearheaded the passage of police accountability reform, the modernization of the CTA’s Red and Purple lines, the stabilization of pension funds and creation of the City’s legal fund that assists immigrants and refugees threatened with deportation.
Valencia has also worked as an Illinois political professional in several positions including, serving as Campaign Manager for U.S. Senator Dick Durbin’s re-election campaign, Senior Advisor for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election campaign, Deputy Director of the Illinois Senate Democratic Victory Fund, a Communications Staffer for State Senate President John Cullerton, and Field Director for both Mike Quigley for Congress (IL-05) and Gary Peters for Congress (MI-09).
In 2017, Chicago Magazine listed Valencia as an Emerging Power Player highlighting her as a rising star in Chicago politics. Valencia has also been awarded Negocios Nows’ 40 under 40 for her work as part of the next generation of Latina leaders.
Valencia earned her degree in International Studies from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She currently resides in the West Town neighborhood with her husband and dog.
Gilbert Villegas, 36th Ward Alderman, City of Chicago
Alderman Gilbert Villegas has spent his entire career serving others. Since being honorably discharged from the Marines, he has served in government, non-profits and for profit companies, each time successfully bringing new opportunities to businesses and employees.
As a partner of Stratagem Consulting Group, Gilbert Villegas is responsible for consulting clients including Fortune 500 companies and small businesses that are seeking to penetrate public and private sectors in Illinois.
Before joining Stratagem, Alderman Villegas served as Chief of Staff position at the Illinois Capital Development Board. Ald. Villegas oversaw a staff of 140 State personnel, a $25 million operating budget and a $3.9 billion dollar capital construction program. As the construction management agency for Illinois state government since 1972, the Capital Development Board (CDB) oversees the construction of new state facilities, such as prisons, colleges and university classroom buildings, mental health hospitals and state parks. In addition, CDB is responsible for renovation and rehabilitation projects at the State’s 8,500 plus state-owned buildings containing more than 96 million square-feet of floor space.
From 2008 to 2011, Ald. Villegas was the Associate Director of the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association. At HACIA he oversaw Government Affairs for the organization and spearheaded the development and lobbying efforts behind passage of two instrumental Illinois Senate Bills (SB 351 and SB3249), ensuring minority and women owned businesses have a principal opportunity to participate on state funded projects. Ald. Villegas successfully created the Minority Contractor Training Program, which trained over 300 businesses that sought to perform on federally and state funded infrastructure projects.
Prior to joining HACIA, Ald. Villegas served as the Deputy Director of the Office of Business and Workforce Diversity at the Illinois Department of Transportation. As the Deputy Director he oversaw two departments: the Bureaus of Small Business Enterprises and the statewide District Equal Employment Opportunity Contract Compliance Officers.
Ald. Villegas was previously a member of Teamster 734 where he served as the Teamster Union Steward, representing over 300 Teamster drivers and dockworkers. As the Teamster Union Steward, Ald. Villegas ensured that workers’ rights were protected and the collective bargaining agreements were adhered to.
Ald. Villegas currently represents the 36th Ward in City Council. The 36th Ward is located on Chicago’s Northwest Side and covers neighborhoods ranging from Portage Park to Hermosa. The Alderman sits on six committees, Aviation, Rules and Ethics, Economic, Capital and Technology Development, Health and Environmental Protection, Pedestrian and Traffic Safety, and Transportation and Public Way. Elected in 2015, the Alderman is focused on bringing his engineering expertise to the 36th in order to spur development and job creation. He has started a new Veteran Caucus in City Council to make Chicago the best city in the world for Veterans.
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