Juan Carlos Linares joins Mayor Lightfoot’s Administration as the City’s Chief Engagement Officer

LUCHA’s Executive Director, Juan Carlos Linares, recently accepted the position of Chief Engagement Officer for the City of Chicago and will be transitioning to Mayor Lightfoot’s administration effective June 17, 2019. While his absence will be felt deeply at LUCHA, we are ecstatic about the impact this will have across our entire city. During his tenure at LUCHA which began in 2013, Juan Carlos grew the organization from 26 staff and a budget of $1.3 million with total assets of $15 million, to a staff of 40 with an annual operating budget of $2.6 million and total assets valued at over $40 million. Clients served also increased from 3,000 annually to over 8,000 today.
“When I joined the LUCHA Board in 2007, and then on staff as Executive Director in 2013, I was galvanized by the voices we heard every day about the needs for affordable housing and energy equity, and for safe communities that value its people and its cultural assets.” says Juan Carlos.  To those ends, Juan Carlos launched LUCHA’s Community Law Project and expanded our Resident and Community Services from a half-time staff person to a seven person team. His vision expanded the organization’s influence from the Humboldt Park, West Town and Logan Square communities to the national stage through his leadership around racial equity, particularly as it relates to the intersection of health and wellness, climate sustainability and housing affordability.
Under Juan Carlos’ leadership, LUCHA was recently awarded the 2019 Mission Award from the Illinois Green Alliance which recognizes sustainable building efforts in Illinois, and the national Opportunity Finance Network’s 2018 Justice Award. Juan Carlos oversaw the completion of Tierra Linda, which created 45 units of sustainable, affordable rental housing along the 606 trail with an emphasis on health and wellness. In addition to piloting the community Plan de Acción de Salud in partnership with Enterprise Community Partners, which has subsequently become a national model, Tierra Linda also features the first affordable, multi-family Passive House building in Illinois. 
Juan Carlos’ innovative spirit and unique experience has inspired practitioners across the globe around fair housing and racial equity as he has presented everywhere from New York City and Miami, to Portland and Los Angeles, to Singapore and Rio De Janeiro. Juan Carlos contributed to the Metropolitan Planning Council’s Cost of Segregation Report and the Puerto Rican Agenda’s 2018 Housing Summit Report. As a steering committee member of Elevated Chicago, Juan Carlos was integral in shaping their Community Engagement Principles and Recommendations which he leveraged as the co-chair of Mayor Lightfoot’s Housing Transition Team – and which has led to his new position with the Mayor’s Office as Chief Engagement Officer.

LUCHA’s Board President, Dr. Ralph Cintrón, remarks that, “Under Juan Carlos’ leadership, LUCHA has continued to address the housing and social service needs of different communities in and around Humboldt Park and the northwest side of Chicago. In this sense, it has maintained its traditions and origins. At the same time, LUCHA is now at the forefront of building sustainable housing that is also affordable. The energy savings that we are providing for our tenants and the innovations that we are shaping for the industry point to an exciting future for the LUCHA family. Juan Carlos has taken us quite far, and we fully expect that he will also be a strong guide for Chicago and our new mayor, Lori Lightfoot. LUCHA is well positioned for our next steps.”

According to Juan Carlos, “Leaving the LUCHA team is bittersweet, since we have built such committed partnerships with our stakeholders, we have served so many families and households in need of our services and we have advanced housing as a human right together.  I take the lessons I have learned from the LUCHA, both professionally and personally, with me as I move on to the next phase of my journey, joining the Mayor’s office. With the strong momentum we have garnered together, I look forward to rooting on and supporting the LUCHA family and its legacy for years to come.” 

Salúd, Juan Carlos! We look forward to working with you in your new capacity and raise a glass to everything your leadership will bring to our great city. The LUCHA team also announces that it is completing its Leadership Transition process and will announce its next steps shortly. 

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