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, the premier organization developing Hispanic leadership, and an international model for inclusion of people with disabilities.

Our History

El Valor was founded in 1973 by the late Guadalupe A. 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 four Children & Family Centers, a Technology Center, a Vocational Development Center and six Community Residence Homes for adults with disabilities. Programs work with families throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. El Valor has a budget of over $17 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 has 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 biography.

Nina Duenas

Vice President of the Children's Program

Jon Emory

Director of Adult Programs

Eleni Giannakopoulos, Esq.

Director of Development, Assistant In-House Counsel

Jillian Gonzalez, Esq.

Vice President, In-House Counsel

Eduardo Moreno

Director of Employment & Facilities Services

Dennis Warren

Director of Information Technology

Carmen Ziegler

Chief Financial Officer

Executive Committee

  • Board Chair: Rafael Malpica – Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital
  • Board Vice Chair/Membership Committee: Michael Fortin – TiER 1 Performance
  • Chair/Finance Committee Treasurer: Allen C. Wesolowski
  • Board Secretary: Dr. Michelle Marme, Ph.D.
  • Chair/Resource Development Committee: Douglas Levy – Univision Communications

Board of Directors

  • Rina Alvarez – Kirkland and Ellis, LLP
  • Luisa Echevarria – Univsion Communications
  • Eddie Espinosa – W.W. Grainger
  • Marcelo Fajnerman – McDonald’s Corporation
  • Phillip K. Fuentes – PMA McDonald’s
  • Paul Gaughan – Parkway Bank and Trust
  • Ayn F. Keneman, Ed.D. – National Louis University
  • Anastasia O’Brien – ComEd, An Exelon Company
  • Miguel A. Ortega – Pepco Holdings
  • Mari Uribarri – Huntington National Bank

Associate Board

  • Anabel Abarca – Daley & Georges, Ltd.
  • Alex Acevedo – Northwestern Medicine 
  • Gabriel Chavez – Exelon Nuclear
  • Adam Gonzalez – McVay & Parsky
  • Rachel Gonzalez – OMD USA
  • Michael Ibrahim – Ibrahim Law Office
  • Erick Ferrer – Kaufman Hall
  • Francisco Lassio – Peoples Gas


  • Yaneli Martinez – American Family Insurance
  • Aracely Medrano – Keller Williams
  • Lizet Ochoa – Premier Restaurant Group
  • Edgar Pineda – Senator Martin A. Sandoval
  • Ashlee A. Pinto, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP
  • Marisol Reyes – Marquette Associates
  • Frank Roman – Chicago Police Department
  • Keny Zurita – Kirkland & Ellis LLP