MPDC Board of Directors

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Kate Eakin

I’m interested in being a part of the McKinley Park Development Council because I am both encouraged and concerned by various interests moving into our neighborhood.

My professional background includes 20+ years in education and performing arts, including time as a CPS teaching artist and as faculty at Columbia College Chicago. You may have seen me onstage with the Chicago Civic Orchestra or the Air Force Band, among others. On Active Duty in the Air Force, I worked in public relations across three continents. I also taught communication and conflict resolution skills to both new recruits and seasoned leaders.

More recently, I went back to school for my MBA, which I completed at UIC earlier this year. I now work in Accenture Consulting’s Public Service division, where I help organizations plan and execute change. In functional terms, I help groups get to the root of the problem, determine a course forward, and then build training programs to grow skills and improve communications. I am also still serving in the Air Force Reserve as a paralegal.

As for my experience in the neighborhood, I moved back to the South Side in 2018 after leaving Active Duty overseas. In February of 2019, I bought my McKinley Park fixer upper - a 2 flat near Honore and Pershing.

The most striking thing I encountered in my home buying was experience was seeing just how fast Pilsen had gentrified while I was away. I was dismayed to see so many long time residents selling because the neighborhood no longer felt like home. Certainly, I could no longer afford to live in the same area where I had my first apartment, years ago. I don’t want to see the same thing happen in McKinley Park.

Likewise, I don’t want to see our safety threatened by development that would increase pollution and other environmental hazards. The fight against MAT asphalt has shown that we can organize to push back against such forces, and recent developments in that fight are encouraging.

All that said, it is entirely possible to have curated development that supports existing residents and builds on our neighborhood’s strengths. We can move forward on affordable housing. We can work with businesses to bring opportunities for work and play commensurate with the skills and desires of our residents, without sacrificing the character and affordability of the neighborhood.

Shaping the future of our neighborhood in this way is something I very much want to be a part of.

John Kugler

We have lived at 3701 S. Winchester for 23 years, consequently seeing and being part of many changes in our neighborhood. Husband of Emi Yamamoto, we raised 4 boys together who all attended Greene ES, Evergreen Middle ES and Juarez HS. Starting with Twinkle Star Gymnastics, our family participated in sports at McKinley Park Field House. I say this to validate my involvement in our neighborhood in everyday life needs and services, which also includes my civic service on the Greene ES LSC and Judge of Election in my Precinct.

The reason I would like to be involved with the council is my concern that unchecked development will disenfranchise middleclass families and push out mom and pop businesses.

Some ideas of mine, as a lifelong Chicago resident for responsible and sustainable neighborhood development are:

Bringing back corner stores and hyper-local businesses inside of our blocks Safe traffic patterns before neighborhood expansion begins Positive afterschool and employment opportunities for our youth Integrated senior friendly activities and services Improve immigrant supports and infrastructure Supporting and promoting neighborhood schools and churches Re-purposing industrial land for: Low cost rental space for businesses Local produce growing Training centers for emerging technologies Incubators for neighborhood entrepreurs

Having experienced rampant gentrification in Lakeview and Bucktown, I feel if we don’t get ahead of the curve in McKinley Park, none of us will be living here 20 years from now.

Sandra Ramirez

I am a resident of Mckinley Park and meet the requirements. I grew up in McKinley Park in the 90’s and 2000’s and recently returned to reside in the neighborhood in 2018. My immediate family also lives in the area, making it a very important and personal community to me. I have skills and experience that I would proudly share with this organization. I believe McKinley Park is a wonderful community with amazing potential and I am committed to helping MPDC continue its mission.

Short Bio: Sandra Ramirez- Director of Development, Alivio Medical Center Ms. Ramirez is responsible for developing and executing strategies to meet Alivio Medical Centers’ objectives for grants, fundraising and communication. In 2016, Sandra came to Alivio with over 18 years of managerial experience and demonstrated her skillset by taking the lead on complex projects in collaboration with the Executive Team. Sandra has effectively secured and maintained a government grants portfolio of $4.7 Million in the current fiscal year alone as well as $910,000 in private funding. Sandra has demonstrated leadership and true passion for Alivio’s mission. Ms. Ramirez has been engaged with community partners and organizations that serve Alivio’s service area and her beloved Southwest side neighborhoods. She has advocated for access to healthcare as well as immigrant rights. Sandra served as the Fiesta Del Sol (FDS) Chairperson 2018-2020. FDS is an annual fundraising event organized by Pilsen Neighbors Community Council, a non-profit organization located in the heart of Pilsen in Chicago, IL. Sandra grew up in Bridgeport and McKinley Park and attended Evergreen Academy and Kelly High School. A proud daughter of a Mexican immigrant, Sandra was raised in an environment that feared deportation, lacked insurance and a lack of bilingual, culturally competent medical care. Nevertheless, Sandra earned her Bachelor’s in Psychology from National Louis University.

Salvador G. Santillan

A resident of McKinley Park since 1995, I moved to McKinley Park, when I was in High school and remained in the Neighborhood ever since. I reside near 35th and Archer. I am Alumni of Chicago Public Schools system, which I graduated from Curie High School in 1999. I attended Columbia College, while working a Full Time job at the Chicago Transit Authority in 1999. As my major in school was in music to become a music educator or work in the music industry, as I am an Opera Singer. I chose the working route and put my education on hold.

Continued to work at the CTA for 15 years, working my way up in the ranks and working various positions in the company. Finished working a management role in the Purchasing/Warehousing Department. While I was at CTA I was a member of COMTO ( Conference Of Minority Officials) which I also worked with CTA’s Government Relations department which we gave back to inner city program all across the city.

I left the Chicago Transit Authority in 2013 to finish my education, since I noticed a lot of other positions I was interested in required a Bachelors degree. So I then took other positions, while putting myself back to school. I held the following positions, Inventory/Purchasing Manager at Gold Standard Baking, Remprex LLC, Motorola, Justin Blair and Company and my last position Pre COVID was Operations Manager for LAZ Parking which I was in charge of Parking Meters in the City of Chicago.

Currently, I work for Brighton Park Neighborhood Council at Shields Elementary working with after School programs. I am also in Graduate School to get my MBA. I have always wanted to give back to the community, when I saw this post it gave me goosebumps. My graduate school is online and I work remotely as well.

Anthony Wojtal

A Chicago native and a McKinley Park resident for the past two-and-a-half years, I am a recent graduate of DePaul University’s MBA program and for the past 7 years have worked for Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Budget & Grants Management where I am currently a Budget Manager.

If the past 9 months have taught us anything, it is that our communities are in dire need of resources and support. Even in times of stability, many families may find themselves one paycheck away from not getting by - a reality made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic downturn. This is a moment where we must turn our attention and extend solidarity to the struggle of working families, and harness the collective power of the community to direct resources to those who are in need. A community that sustainably ensures basic needs and rights are met and protected will generate more economic activity, improve general well-being, and be better suited to weather any national economic impacts. To this end, I believe there are several critical areas where we must develop policies that aim to protect and expand the rights of working families: Housing, Healthcare, Food Security, and Education.

Housing: We must work to ensure no person who calls McKinley Park or Chicago “home”, faces eviction, or finds a lack of available affordable housing. To promote home ownership, expand accessibility and security, and increase the stock of affordable housing, we must explore financing alternatives such as mortgage revenue bonds, promote the right to form housing cooperatives, and push to expand tenants’ rights.

Healthcare: While much of this struggle will ultimately fall on the federal government to address, we as a community can still come together to ensure the health and well-being of the community is cared for. Especially in the midst of a pandemic with little federal guidance, people all around us, especially working people, desperately need resources like PPE, medicines, available testing, and access to immediate care. We must work together to direct resources to those in need through community fund raising, donation drives, and the creation of rapid test sites. Looking forward, we must also identify ways to direct resources to ensure the community has access to health centers, access to mental health and counseling, low-cost or free health screenings, and low-cost or free medication.

Food Security: No person who calls McKinley Park or Chicago “home”, should go hungry or lack access to nutritious foods. Our neighborhood is situated in a very critical area which includes the Central Manufacturing District and while there are many plans available that explore how to best use these vast spaces, one key topic is often overlooked: Urban farming. An urban farming operation would not only address any food shortages in the immediate area, but it could also serve as a resource hub for local schools and promote home and community gardening. Additionally, redeveloping the CMD in this way will bring jobs to the area, reduce harmful emissions, and promote a framework of utilizing urban spaces in a sustainable, carbon negative way.

Education: Educational outcomes can differ greatly depending on your zip code. Expanding equity in education can be enhanced through the expansion of housing rights, and through economic development within the community. All children deserve access to a high performing neighborhood public school and we must fight to ensure equitable funding is provided to schools in order to provide nutritious meals, diverse curriculum offerings, universal childcare, and counseling and nursing services.

John Belcik

Born and raised in McKinley Park. Being a fifth generation resident, McKinley Park is deeply ingrained in me and my family and will always call it home. I’m always trying to make the neighborhood a better place for old and new residents be it volunteering time to help with the Farmer’s Market, teaching the McKinley Park Advisory Council’s outdoor ecology class, to working to create the McKinley Park Development Council.

When I am not in the neighborhood, I work as a biologist in the Planning and Environment Branch of the Chicago District of the US Army Corps of Engineers and am currently getting a PhD in ecology from University of Illinois at Chicago.

Dan Covarrubias

Dan is a licensed Managing Broker in the State of Illinois and he has worked as a realtor in the Chicagoland area since 1994. Currently he is sponsored by Amerimax Real Estate Partners, Chicago, Illinois.

Dan has worked for numerous local and national real estate firms. He was founding partner of First Capital Realtors which operated from 1999 through 2003, and he was a partner at ReMax First Choice managing 56 agents from 1996 through 1998. During 1996 through 2003, Dan recruited, trained and coached realtors and staff. He also personally managed the rehabilitation and renovation of numerous properties to help revitalize communities, and he has managed up to 40 units for a private investor which included multiple two and four unit buildings in Chicago. For the past 20 years, Dan has negotiated and closed hundreds of commercial and residential real estate and mortgage sales, earning him a reputation for integrity, trust and passion to help others – the primary reasons why his repeat clients and clients who strongly support him through referrals. Dan Covarrubias has experience in selling almost every property type since his entrance into the real estate field in 1994. Dan Covarrubias is experienced in negotiated transactions, accelerated sales programs including sealed bid offerings as well as public auction sales.

Faye “Nikita” Wu

My name is Faye Wu but many people know me as “Nikita”. I am an active member of the school my son attends, Galileo, located in the 25th Ward where I help organize the annual fundraiser: Reach for the Stars. I have been an active member of the Chinese community for many years having been the MC of many ceremonies and galas and having worked at a prominent insurance agency. Today, I own my own business, the Faye Wu Agency of American Family Insurance located in the heart of Chinatown.

But it is McKinley Park that I have called home since 2002 and where, together with my husband and two sons, we have decided to grow even deeper roots by building an addition to our home to better accommodate our future needs and it is here that I would welcome the opportunity to serve the needs of the residents and build a better McKinley Park.

Jim Hankes

Born and raised in McKinley Park, moved out in the mid ‘80s, moved back in 2014. My parents still live in McKinley Park and have since they moved here from Bridgeport in the 1950’s. I’m currently a realtor with @properties with a specific focus on the McKinley Park neighborhood. It was great to see an article on Trulia.com recently that showed McKinley Park having the lowest neighborhood crime rate in Cook County. I have access to statistics and information about our neighborhood that others may not be aware of. Along with my wife, Vickie, we conceptualized, planned, self-funded, built and operated a meal assembly kitchen in Wheaton, IL. We had a staff of 22 part-time employees. Prior to starting the food business, I was Western Sales Manager in the trade publishing industry for 9 years, handling a 17-state territory from IL to CA. I recently signed up to be an Ambassador for the MP Dog Park!

Liz Gres

I’ve got board and non-profit experience. I’ve done it all from grant-writing to strategic planning to meeting facilitation, etc. etc. More importantly, I’m a native southwest-sider, the kid of immigrants and now raising a couple kids of my own in the neighborhood. I can’t say enough about how much I love the community in McKinley Park and the active work so many people are doing to foster and invite that. I think it’s a pretty special thing though it can be pretty fragile when you’re talking about a community that isn’t as resourced or listened to as other neighborhoods given our racial and economic make-up as well as small size - especially as we begin to get mentioned as the next “hot” area. I think the MPDC can serve as an organization that really helps to hold up the voice and priorities of all of the neighborhood not just of those whose voice is loudest or who have the most access, time, resources, etc. There are certainly challenges in order to effectively do that as an organization but I think the MPDC can serve in that role and I would love to contribute to making that happen.

Mary Carmen Moreno

Resident of McKinley Park since 2005, and lifelong Chicagoan. I’m a mother to a creative and soulful 10 yr. old, a Chicago Public School teacher on the Southside of Chicago, and co-owner of Cafe Jumping Bean in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. My family and I enjoy a good ballgame, support local businesses and community organizations. We are avid gardeners, and enjoy visiting National Parks every year.

Tony Adams

This year I’ve been busy as part of the leadership team of the McKinley Park Community Garden as we’ve relocated to the new site in McKinley Park. I am also one of MPDC founders - involved since before it existed as a named group. I’m a particpant in the McKinley Park Stewardship days (not just because of the doughnuts) , Ward cleanup events and a customer of the Farmer’s Market. I consider it a huge blessing to be able to live here.

I’ve been a professional software developer for nearly 20 years, currently at the awesome Ascension Technologies. I have been contributing those talents to the MPDC by designing, maintaining and hosting this web site using 100% free and open source tools.