About El Valor

El Valor is a non-profit community-based organization founded in 1973 that strives for a community in which all members, including individuals with special needs, can live, learn and work.

El Valor, meaning “courage”, from its roots in the Hispanic community, has grown into a multicultural, multipurpose organization that reaches thousands of families throughout the Chicagoland area.



El Valor’s mission is to support and challenge urban families to achieve excellence and participate fully in community life. Our programs exist to enrich and empower people with disabilities, the disenfranchised and the underserved.




El Valor seeks to be the best in the nation in early childhood and youth enrichment, to be the premier organization developing Hispanic leadership, and to be an international model for inclusion of people with disabilities.

Our History

El Valor was founded in 1973 by the late Guadalupe Reyes, a visionary leader and mother who dreamed of a community in which all members, including her son with special needs, could live, learn and work. From its roots in the Hispanic community, El Valor has grown into a nationally recognized multicultural, multipurpose organization with a mission that reaches millions through its International Public Awareness Campaign.


El Valor has three Children & Family Centers, a Technology Center, a Vocational Development Center and five Community Residence Homes for adults with disabilities. Programs work with families throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. El Valor has a budget of over $15 million. Over 300 staff members and hundreds of volunteers help provide services to children, people with disabilities and their families.

El Valor Leadership

Rey B. Gonzalez

Rey B. Gonzalez

President & CEO

Gonzalez served as chair of El Valor’s board of directors for 33 years before becoming president in 2015. During his tenure as chair, Gonzalez connected the organization to national leaders in corporations, government, universities, media, and the community. Through his leadership, El Valor flourished and is ranked among the 25 largest Hispanic-serving organizations in the country. As president, he continues to push the organization in innovative directions and champion El Valor’s mission.

Click here to view or download a complete bio.

Carmen Ziegler

Chief Financial Officer

Jon Emory

Director of Adult Programs

Jillian Gonzalez, Esq.

Vice President, In-House Counsel

Dennis Warren

Director of Information Technology

Eleni Giannakopoulos, Esq.

Director of Development, Assistant In-House Counsel

Eduardo Moreno

Director of Employment & Facilities Services

Nina Duenas

Vice President of the Children's Program

Executive Committee

  • Board Chair: Rafael Malpica – Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital
  • Board Vice Chair/Membership Committee:  Philip K. Fuentes – PMA McDonald’s
  • Chair/Finance Committee Treasurer: Allen C. Wesolowski
  • Chair/Program Committee: Dr. Michelle Marme
  • Board Secretary: Michael J. Cabrera – UBM Facility Services, Inc.
  • Chair/Resource Development Committee:

Board of Directors

  • Rina Alvarez- Kirkland and Ellis, LLP.
  • Miguel A. Ortega – Pepco Holdings
  • Craig A. Chico – Back of the Yards Neighbood Council
  • Paul Gaughan – Parkway Bank and Trust
  • Matthew Fortin – W. W. Grainger
  • Dr. Luisiana Melendez Rojas – Erikson Institute
  • Luisa Echevarria – Univsion Chicago
  • Anastasia O’Brien – ComEd, An Exelon Company
  • Doug Levy – Univision
  • Marcelo Fajnerman – McDonald’s Corporation
  • Michael Fortin – TiER1 Performance
  • T. Joseph Halwax – PNC Bank

Associate Board

  • Anabel Abarca
  • Gabriel Chavez, Exelon Nuclear
  • Edgar Pineda, Latinos Progresando
  • Ashlee A. Pinto, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
  • Frank Roman, Chicago Police Department

  • Adam Gonzalez
  • Keny Zurita, Kirkland & Ellis LLP
  • Marisol Reyes, Marquette Associates
  • Rachel Gonzalez, OMD
  • Yaneli Martinez, American Family Insurance
  • Francisco Lassio, City of Chicago
  • Alex Acevedo