Blog

LUCHA welcomes new Director of Programs Isaias Solis

On January 8th, LUCHA welcomed Isaias Solis as the Director of Programs – a newly formulated position designed to help coordinate and strengthen LUCHA’s programming.  We sat down with Isaias to learn about his transition to the Windy City and this new role.

What were you doing prior to working at LUCHA? Where are you joining us from?

Raised in Detroit, Michigan, I attended Cass Technical High School and graduated Magna Cum Laude, considering myself a proud product of the Detroit Public School system. In 2005, I graduated from Michigan State University, James Madison College with a degree in Social Relations & Policy and a specialization in Chicano/Latino Studies. Committed to serving others, I dedicated 3 years of AmeriCorps service with Teach For America in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas where I taught middle and high school social studies and was bestowed the District Teacher of the Year Award in 2007.

Upon graduating from the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor with a Master of Social Work degree in 2009, I served as High School Teacher with the Donna Independent School District, Director of District and School Partnerships with Teach For America, and Power of We Consortium Director, Federal Healthy Start Program Supervisor, and Federally Qualified Community Health Center Supervisor with the Ingham County Health Department.

I’ve also had the privilege to work alongside former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, Lansing Mayor Tony Benavides, Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, Michigan Congressman Hansen Clarke, and in Capitol Hill in Washington, DC with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

Give a description of your work with LUCHA.

As the Director of Programs, I will be responsible for managing functions that meet the objectives of the Housing Counseling and Advocacy Programs, Resident Services and the LUCHA Law Project. I will also assist with duties required by LUCHA to maintain and grow our lending and foreclosure prevention programs, and manage the social services and legal aid functions.

What are you most looking forward to in this position?

LUCHA has a rich history and legacy of advancing housing as a human right, one of the essential social determinants of health that impact disparity in communities.  I am humbled and excited to now be part of the growing legacy and the positive impact that LUCHA has in community and look forward to bringing my expertise to continue to deliver and expand high quality programming for community members.

LUCHA among leaders at city-wide eTOD Symposium

Civic and community leaders across Chicago convened for A Catalytic Moment: The Transformative Power of Transit-Oriented Development  a Symposium focused on racial equity and Transit Oriented Development.
 
Juan Carlos Linares, our Executive Director, presented on LUCHA’s leadership in a collaborative effort to find creative solutions in the built environment that produce positive outcomes for racial equity, human health, and climate resiliency.

LUCHA Reaches Out to Hurricane Maria Evacuees

In the wake of the devastation to the island of Puerto Rico this fall, communities around the United States have mobilized in response to Hurricane Maria and many, including Chicago, have begun welcoming evacuees to recover, rebuild, and, for many, start a new life. The Humboldt Park Fieldhouse has been designated as the official Hurricane Resource Center for Chicago. The Fieldhouse has been open every Monday and Tuesday from 10am to 4pm to connect evacuees with government agencies, non-profits, and relief organizations.

Several LUCHA staff have operated a table each day at the Fieldhouse. Administrative Manager, Maria Galarza, and Receptionist, Simone Poulos, have regularly dedicated their time to help evacuees fill out applications for LUCHA properties and help them navigate throughout the Resource Center to ensure they obtain emergency groceries, warm coats, and school information for their children.

“We’ve met people with masters’ degrees, and mothers with 3 kids who have lost everything,” said Poulous. Puerto Ricans have survived and are surviving in spite of overwhelming odds, but the fight isn’t over. Making it to the United States and out of harm’s way doesn’t mean that their life will be any easier here. Galarza knows – as someone who grew up in Puerto Rico, she has survived three hurricanes herself.

With the need so great, what do evacuees need the most?

“A roof over their head…a bed to sleep in, and a coat. It’s winter here,” remarked Poulous.

“And also a job…If you don’t have a job, you aren’t going to make it here,” Galarza chimed in.

The road to self-sufficiency is long, and LUCHA will continue to reach out to evacuees. For more information, call our office at (773) 276-5338.

LUCHA welcomes new Senior Property Manager Aviance Dorsey

LUCHA is excited to announce our new Senior Property Manager, Aviance Dorsey. Having grown up in the Humboldt Park neighborhood and owning a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications from Northeastern Illinois University, Dorsey brings with her a wealth of community knowledge and is well versed in thriving within demanding environments. With nearly 20 years of experience in property management of affordable and market rate housing, she brings added expertise and a commitment to residents as LUCHA begins to lease up Tierra Linda, our newest affordable housing building development and Illinois’ First Multi-Family Passive House.

Dorsey started her career as an administrative assistant and has worked in nearly every role within the property management field for both non-profit and for-profit entities. The wealth of institutional knowledge of how to best operate a multi-site portfolio of properties provides LUCHA with a leader and visionary equipped to both increase revenue as well as rates of tenant retention.

HCA Director Juliana Gonzalez-Crussi Says ‘Goodbye’

Gonzalez-Crussi, serving as the Director of Housing Counseling and Advocacy since June of 2014, recently accepted the position of Executive Director at the Center for Changing Lives and has transitioning out of her role at LUCHA. Upon departure, she shared these thoughts for her fellow staff members and the LUCHA community.
Dear Colleagues,
I’d like to let you know that I am leaving my position at LUCHA on December 1, 2017.
First of all, I wish to tell you how much I have enjoyed my tenure at LUCHA. It has been for me a source of genuine enjoyment. And I am conscious of the fact that this feeling is derived from having had the opportunity to work with a fantastic team. My life has been enriched upon seeing how LUCHA’s programs have a positive impact on people’s lives. But this effect becomes possible only through the dedicated effort of the staff of our organization.  Therefore, I feel grateful and proud to have been part of such a generous group. Thank you for the support and encouragement you have provided me during my time at LUCHA.
Even though I will miss my colleagues, clients, and the organization, I am looking forward to starting a new phase of my career as the executive director for the Center for Changing Lives. Please keep in touch. You may reach me on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/juliana-gonzalez-crussi-b5893b2/.
Thanks again. It’s been a pleasure working with each of you and the broader LUCHA community.
Best Regards,
Juliana Gonzalez-Crussi

LUCHA welcomes new Board Member & Development Associate

Trevor

 

Trevor Tejada-Gervais  – Organizing Director

Trevor Tejada-Gervais recently joined the Board of Directors at LUCHA with a decorated career at such a young age. Having previously served as the Southern Arizona Field Director and Central Las Vegas Get Out The Vote Director for President Obama’s reelection campaign and as the White House Intergovernmental Affairs intern in 2013, Tejada-Gervais brings a talent for organizing which will greatly benefit the organization.

We caught up with Trevor to learn more.

Tell us a bit about your position with Common Cause.

As Midwest Organizing Director, I work with our staff and leaders in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois to build people-powered democracy campaigns. For example, in Illinois we recently passed Automatic Voter Registration, which is expected to register more than 1.1 million people to vote in the coming years.  From fair redistricting in Ohio, to money in politics reforms in Illinois, I’m excited to continue fighting for state victories that ensure everyone has equal access to our democratic process.

You are a weekly panelist on Reverend Jesse Jackson’s nationally-syndicated radio program “Keep Hope Alive”. What is the unique voice that you bring to Reverend Jackson’s radio program & how do you remain hopeful in the midst of your work?   

I am the youngest panelist on the Keep Hope Alive show, so I work to bring a youth perspective to organizing and activism. Bridging the gap between the civil rights icons of the 1960s and new student organizers is a passion of mine, and seeing how effective that collaboration can be brings me hope!

How are you hoping to serve LUCHA as the organization’s newest Board Member and what do you envision for the organization moving forward?

I’m excited to support the efforts of the entire LUCHA team, and I’m especially interested in working to build connections with different community groups while expanding upon organizing efforts. I experienced housing insecurity when I was young, and being a part of a team committed to serving families through housing, programming, and organizing is an incredible opportunity!

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Lisette Arzuaga – Development Associate 

What were you up to prior to working at LUCHA?

Prior to working at LUCHA, I had just finished my M.A. in Women’s & Gender Studies at DePaul University. As I completed my degree in June 2017, I was also wrapping up two graduate student employee positions at DePaul as well as my role as a Development Intern with La Casa Norte, another Logan Square/Humboldt Park community organization.

Tell us a bit about your work at LUCHA.

As part of the Development team here at LUCHA, my work focuses on fundraising and branding/marketing. I am here to invest in creating and continuously strengthening LUCHA’s relationships with its communities – our already existing and potential clients, donors, community partners, etc. The fundamental goal is to base all of our efforts in LUCHA’s mission of advancing housing as a human right.

What are you most looking forward to in this position?

I am excited about the ways in which this position and the work I do here highlight the necessity of human connection and collaborative work. It’s a great opportunity for me to build relationships and effort across communities, personally and on behalf of LUCHA. The world we live in discourages connection and collaboration, so I’m particularly humbled and honored to do work that pushes back against that.