Latinx Heritage Month

Latinx Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15th to October 15th. During this month, the City of Chicago honors the diverse Latinx culture and heritage by highlighting significant achievements and contributions made by the Latinx community.

Community Highlights

Carmen Velásquez

Carmen Velasquez

Carmen Velásquez is an impressive leader, a tireless campaigner, and a committed advocate of health care policy, Carmen Velásquez has changed community health care for the Latino, predominantly Mexican, working-poor, uninsured, and immigrant community. As a former community activist, social worker, bilingual education specialist and founder of a not-for-profit community health center, Alivio Medical Center, Ms. Velásquez has spent most of her life advocating for universal health care, comprehensive immigration reform, and for workforce development. 

Ms. Velásquez was appointed to the Cook County Health and Hospitals System Board of Directors in 2012 and completed a four-year term. Velásquez was notably appointed to the Board of Advisors of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago and has received numerous awards for leadership, vision, passion, community organizing and overall outstanding service and dedication to the community. In 2016, Ms. Velásquez received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Mujeres Latinas en Accion. 

Most recently, Ms. Velásquez founded the Healthy Illinois Campaign whose mission is to make quality, affordable health care accessible to all people in Illinois, including the undocumented community. In 2020, the Healthy Illinois Campaign made history when they passed legislation to establish healthcare coverage for low-income Illinois seniors ages 65+, regardless of immigration status.  

Sarah Taylor

Sarah Taylor

Sarah Taylor is a first- generation Panamanian American, Founder and Executive Director of Yo Soy Ella, Inc. In 2012, Sarah applied her wealth of public service and personal lived experiences to form the non-profit organization, Yo Soy Ella, which translates to "I Am Her/She." YSE is a multi-generational support system that provides marginalized groups, Domestic Violence victims, and women with Mental Health challenges with counseling services and self-enrichment programs. Because health is comprehensive and trauma is layered with complexities, YSE is co-led with a diverse experienced team of women, with deep compassion and urgency to assist women improve their quality of life. 

Angel Novalez

Angel Novalez
Angel Novalez is a 22-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and currently serves as the Chief of Constitutional Policing and Reform. He oversees CPD’s reform and consent decree efforts. In this role, he works to build community trust through the implementation of policies and practices to ensure fair and constitutional policing. As part of these ongoing reform efforts at CPD, his duties also include equipping officers with the resources they need to do their jobs effectively. His leadership includes oversight in areas such as training, community engagement and policy development. Chief Novalez was previously the Deputy Chief of Community Policing. As Deputy Chief, he oversaw the department's community policing efforts, youth engagement, the Neighborhood Policing Initiative Program, the expansion of CPD's Civil Rights Unit and fulfilling community policing-related consent decree requirements. Prior to joining the Office of Community Policing, Chief Novalez previously served as the Commanding Officer of the Neighborhood Policing Initiative and as a Watch Operations Lieutenant in the 25th (Grand Central) District, as well as the Commanding Officer of the Procedural Justice Training Program at the Education & Training Division. Chief Novalez holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Safety Management from Calumet College and is currently pursuing a master's degree in Public Safety Administration from St. Xavier University. #Somos 

Taina “Tai” Ramírez

Taina Ramirez

Taina “Tai” Ramírez is a visual artist specializing in music, singing and dancing, Tai has been working with the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center for nearly 5 years. The longest-standing Latinx cultural center in Chicago, Segundo Belvis inspired Taina to learn more about her Latina identity. She’s currently a senior at Walter Payton College Prep and hopes to become a teacher one day.  

Jaime Fidel Castillo

Jaime Fidel Castillo

Originally from Ecuador, Jaime Fidel Castillo opened his Ecuadorian restaurant, La Peña, in Portage Park in 2001. In 2020, Fidel’s business was awarded a grant through the Small Business Improvement with the Chicago Department of Planning and Development. He is a proud father of three and married to Maria Castillo. 

Samara Hernandez

Samara Hernandez is the Founding Partner of an institutionally-backed pre-seed stage fund, Chingona Ventures, focusing on investing in tech and tech-enabled companies across the U.S. Before this, she was an investor at MATH Venture Partners; led new investment review, diligence, and execution. Before VC, she worked at Goldman Sachs, continually ranked top 5 in selling financial products, providing market insights, advising on portfolio construction, and consulting business practices. Her career started in the Fixed Income, Currency, and Commodity (FICC) group and led multiple tech-enhancing projects across global exchanges. Actively involved in the Chicago tech community and passionate about helping underrepresented groups get STEM education, VC, and entrepreneurship. Co-founded Latinx Founders Collective to bring together Latinx founders, investors, and community leaders to entrepreneurs.  

National Hispanic Heritage Month group photo