LUCHA could not be more excited to share with you that Lissette Castañeda will be serving as our Interim Executive Director. A long time friend of the organization, Lissette was born and raised in Chicago. While Lissette spent her formative years in Lincoln Park, her family made Logan Square their home in 1994 when gentrification pushed the Latinx community west and Lissette continues to reside in Logan Square to this day. Rooted in values of justice and service, Lissette and her family have always acted upon their belief that they must do whatever they can for others. As such, it was inevitable that she got involved with the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, a longstanding partner of LUCHA. Given Lissette’s innate leadership, proven track record, and unquenchable passion for affordable housing, she became the President of LSNA’s Board of Directors. During her tenure at LSNA, Lissette led many campaigns around affordable housing, including the Balanced Development Coalition, which resulted in the Affordable Requirements Ordinance and the seven year campaign to bring 62 units of affordable housing to west Logan Square, which resulted in Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation’s Zapata Apartments.
For over ten years, Lissette worked at Center for Changing Lives, another close partner of LUCHA. Initially, she served as a HUD-certified Housing Counselor and eventually became part of their administrative team, leading the organization’s efforts around community engagement and individual donor cultivation. She also led the organization as Interim Executive Director during two separate transitions leading to the hiring of their current Executive Director. Outside of her official capacities, Lissette can be found rereading Harry Potter, rewatching The West Wing, and making sure her husband’s pet turtle never misses a meal.
LUCHA’s Board of Directors was quick to recognize that Lissette’s skill set is the perfect match for the organization at this pivotal moment. Ralph Cintrón, LUCHA’s Board President, echoes the excitement of the full board that Lissette Castañeda accepted the invitation, stating that, “She has extensive experience in housing, as an interim director, is intimately acquainted with many of our community-based partners, and has her own networks around the city and elsewhere which she can leverage on our behalf. Lissette’s most recent work as Director of Community Engagement at the Center for Changing Lives is just one example of how her experience and accomplishments align well with the work that we do here at LUCHA.”
Similarly, Lissette expressed that she “could not be more thrilled to join LUCHA’s team. Juan Carlos’ appointment to Mayor Lightfoot’s administration is a testament not only to his incredible leadership, but to the place LUCHA occupies in our community and the City as a whole. LUCHA is an organization like no other and I am eager to bring my knowledge and expertise to help it usher in the next era of leadership.”
While the Board of Directors conducts a national search for LUCHA’s next Executive Director, Lissette will be overseeing a number of projects – including LUCHA’s office relocation, strategic planning process, and the rehabilitation of Humboldt Park Residence. No one could be more fit for the tasks at hand. Please join LUCHA’s staff and Board in extending a warm welcome to Lissette, who has already begun training with Juan Carlos and will assume full duties as of Saturday, June 15th.