Blanca R Soto, a native of Little Village, has worked at the Little Village Chamber of Commerce since 2011. Her parents migrated to Chicago in the early 70s and settled in the Little Village community where most of her family remains. Hard work is the key to the success for this neighborhood and the same was true for her parents. Her early childhood was filled with trips to the Indiana farms to pick fruits and vegetables with her family which they then sold up and down the streets of Little Village to support their livelihood.
Blanca advocates for the economic development of the locally owned businesses by making the Chamber the cornerstone of the 26th Street commercial corridor. Her work supports Little Village business owners through the multiple stages of development by offering workshops, trainings, access to capital, networking, and referrals. She continuously promotes the shop local ethos that is the economic engine of Little Village.
Working at the Little Village Chamber of Commerce has cemented her roots deep within the community. Her years of service and dedication have strengthened the relationships of the residents to the local businesses of Little Village. That work was recently recognized when the Little Village Chamber of Commerce was awarded the prestigious United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Chamber of the Year Award in 2018.
Owner of Martinez Funeral Home. Born in Uriangato, Guanajuato Mexico. Raised in Little Village from the age of 5yrs. old. Graduated from City Colleges of Chicago Associates Degree Applied Science. Former Paramedic Chicago Fire Department. Graduated from Worsham College of Mortuary Science. Attended Chicago State University Pre-Law classes. Has worked in the Funeral Industry for the past 25years. Acquired the former Marik Funeral Home 2009. Chamber Member since 2009.
Eve Rodriguez Montoya was born and raised in the Little Village community where she attended Joseph E. Gary Elementary School. Eve is the President and CEO of Rodriguez Media Communications LLC, a firm established to assist clients looking to expand their brand, product, mission or service with the Latino market and beyond. Most recently, Eve expanded the Dulcelandia brand by creating a new line of healthy frozen yogurt in Latino flavors and establishing Yogolandia Yogurt and Botana Bar inside Dulcelandia. Eve has over fifteen years of experience in communications and public affairs work for the public and private sectors and has worked directly for two mayoral administrations in Chicago. Eve’s strong record of personal and professional achievement is further supported by a Masters of Arts in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University. Eve was recently featured in Google + Thrive magazine focused on highlighting women entrepreneurs who use Google platforms to grow their businesses and drive economic impact, and was named in Negocio’s Now Latinos 40 under 40. Eve currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the National Museum of Mexican Art and is a Board Director for the Little Village Chamber of Commerce.
Antonio R Guillen serves as Branch Market President of Wintrust Bank Pilsen and Logan Square, and Senior Vice-President of Commercial Lending & Diverse Markets Manager for Wintrust. Antonio has over 35 years’ experience in the Banking industry. Antonio’s expertise is Business Banking, specifically lending to small to medium-size businesses, and commercial real estate financing and development. Antonio spends much of his out in the field building relationships and supporting Community Organizations; his vast experience allows him to guide and mentor many local businesses. Antonio also serves as the President of the Hispanic Bankers Association (HBA), and serves on several other Boards including Little Village Chamber of Commerce (LVCC), Eighteenth Street Development Corporation (ESDC), Latino Professionals for a Cause (LPC), Puerto Rican Arts Alliance (PRAA), and The Bernie Mac Foundation (BMF), and is a member of the Latino Advisory Council (LAC) for Catholic Charites. Antonio is a Chicago native, married with 5 children. Antonio joined Wintrust in July of 2010.
Jason Roberts' family migrated from the Caribbean to pursue better opportunities in America. His Father’s first job in America was driving a taxi cab in New York, while his mother worked as a Nanny. His father then went on to study at New York Community college and after graduating he began his career in banking. He later went on to follow his entrepreneurial spirit and started his first Automotive Dealership and Jason Roberts joined him soon thereafter as a porter washing floors in the service department in 1988.
Jason Roberts started his Automotive career, working as a porter at his Father’s first dealership, while still in High school. Jason Roberts graduated High School and left his Father’s business to attend The Ohio State University. There he studied Business Economics and after completing his fourth year, he returned to sell cars at his Father’s dealership. Jason has held every key position in his Father’s business from porter, to salesman, and is now the Managing Partner of Advantage Chevrolet of Hodgkins. Since he became Managing Partner, they have expanded their business from one dealership to currently three dealerships.
Jason is very passionate about giving back to the community he serves. He has been a proud sponsor of the Little Village Scholarship drive since 2007. He has sponsored the Little Village Little Baseball League since 2012. Jason Roberts also established the Annual Advantage Chevrolet Pretty in Pink Walkathon for the Fight Against Breast Cancer in 2010. He strongly believes that a business is an extension of the neighborhood it serves and should support the community wholeheartedly. It is those values which he believes has allowed his business to grow and prosper through the ever-changing economic environment.
Jennifer Aguilar is a Community Outreach Specialist at Gift of Hope Organ & Tissue Network. She works with Hispanic and African American communities in the northern three-quarters of Illinois and Northwest Indiana to help spread the word about the importance of organ & tissue donation. Jennifer was born and raised in Little Village and is very excited to give back to her community by serving as a board director in the Little Village Chamber of Commerce.
Daniel Arce is truly a Renaissance man. Wearing two hats, he currently serves as president of Sun Optics, a position he has held for 28 years, and as general manager of Tropical Optical Vision Centers, which he has held for 24 years. His extensive knowledge of the vision care industry has allowed him to administer the vision program for the city of Chicago Mayor’s Office of Employment & Training and the vision program for the Chicago, Cicero and Berwyn schools. Well respected in his field, he also served as the general contractor of the State of Illinois Healthy Kids/Healthy Minds Program.
Proud of his Mexican-American heritage, Mr. Arce relishes the opportunity to give back to his community by serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Boys and Girls Club; past president of the General R.E. Wood Unit of the Chicago Boys and Girls Club; past president and current member of the Chicago Azteca Lions Club; past president of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce; current member of the Board of Directors, Back of the Yards Community Council; past vice president of the Mexican-American Chamber of Commerce; member of the Pilsen IETC community Work Force Employment Council. Current President of the Little Village Rotary Club.
He is also a member of the Optician Association of America; Illinois Latino Legislative Caucus Foundation and a founding member, current Board member of the Mexican-American Democratic Organization and currently serves as president of PAC.
Daniel Arce holds a certificate in Advanced Management Education from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business.
Robert Castañeda is the co-founder and executive director of Beyond the Ball, a nonprofit that uses the power of sport to reclaim space, unite the community, and create a culture of opportunity through which the organization cultivates hope and changes lives.
Based in the Little Village neighborhood, Beyond the Ball is innovative in that it not only develops youth through sport and play, but also develops the community. Building on the values taught in their programs, Beyond the Ball has helped neighborhood residents challenge the culture of gang violence in Little Village. The organization was honored with the “Most Courageous Use of Sport” Award at the 2010 Beyond Sport Summit, chosen among over 400 entries from over 120 countries around the world.
Prior to Beyond the Ball, Robert was a small business owner for seven years. Robert began working with youth in Little Village twenty years ago. In addition to managing Beyond the Ball, Robert partners with community organizations from 16 other neighborhoods throughout Chicago to co-facilitate the largest community-based outdoor basketball tournament in Chicago and share best practices in youth and community development throughout Chicago and the world. He has shared his expertise at international events such as One Young World in Zurich, Switzerland, and Beyond Sport United at Yankee Stadium. In 2010, Robert was honored with The Private Bank Norman Bobbins Leadership Award at the Chicago Neighborhood Development Awards.
Owner of Erie-LaSalle Body Shops – established 1934
Graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor of science degree in business finance
Achieved Master of Automotive Management from Automotive Management Institute
Purchased Lupe’s Body Shop in 2012 in Little Village
Purchased original shop at Erie and LaSalle in 1995 from stepfather
Work with 2 sons in the business – Jim and Jay Gottfred
Offer the latest technology and State-of-the-Art repairs
Hobbies include, golf, fitness and fun
Serves on Board of Directors for River North Business Association, River North Residents Association, President of Sterling Private Residences Condominium Association, President of Alliance of Automotive Service Providers of Illinois – State auto body association.
Roman Ruiz is a Branch and Community Development Manager for Second Federal a Division of Self-Help Federal Credit Union. With over 17 years in retail banking and mortgage lending experience, he is at the helm of the flagship branch with an excess of $91 million in deposits and over 6,600 members. The branch is in the heart of Chicago’s Little Village community, which is comprised mainly of Mexican immigrants. The resilient community boasts the second-highest tax revenue in the city. In 2013, Second Federal became a part of one of the largest Community Development Financial Institutions in the country, Self-Help Federal Credit Union. With the change came “a [renewed] commitment to delivering safe and affordable savings and transparently-priced transaction accounts and a full suite of loans – small-dollar, citizenship, unsecured consumer, auto, and mortgage – often to borrowers who could not access responsible services elsewhere.” The organization has lent over 180 million dollars to underserved communities in the Chicagoland area. Roman understands the struggles that many of his customers face, as he emigrated to the United States from Mexico at nine years of age and was raised by a single mother. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Northeastern Illinois University, is a 2017 Opportunity Finance Network Leadership fellow and is a Negocios Now Latinos 40 under 40 for 2017. His civic engagement includes being on the board of directors for San Jose Obrero Mission, SER Central States and the Little Village Chamber of Commerce.
Mario Rodriguez has been in the financial arena for the last 26 years and joined PNC Bank NA in 2017. He is currently the Branch Manager at the Little Village location with a focus on business and community development. He has a strong background in residential & commercial lending, insurance and investments. As a former business owner, he truly understands the challenges and growth opportunities owning a business presents – and leverages this experience to provide effective customized solutions to business owners. He is an accomplished bilingual professional with proven success in both the managerial and financial sales arena. Portfolio of achievements includes increasing revenue, building and establishing relationships through centers of influence, leading teams to excellence in production and increased customer experience ratings. He has been recognized for his exceptional work ethic, effective communication and foresight to solve problems within different sectors of banking.
Immigrating to the United States in 1960. Mike Moreno is the founder of Moreno’s Liquors, which has been a staple of the Little Village community for more than 41yrs. Over this time he also played a key role in uniting the Latino merchant organizations of the community to join the Little Village Chamber of Commerce. Serving as the president of the Chamber from 1987-1991, Mike Moreno helped in the creation of the iconic neighborhood arch, and has been heavily involved in community activism and charity work. He also served as an SSA #25 commissioner during the mid 2000s
Salvador Pedroza immigrated to the United States from Ocampo Guanajuato, Mexico in 1974. He currently resides in the State of IL with his wife of Imelda. Salvador and Imelda have been married for 28 years and have three children Salvador Jr. (27) Ivan (26) and Alejandro (24). They also have 3 grandchildren Marcel (9), Alejandro Jr. (6) and Sofia (4).
Salvador is the President of Economy Commercial Roofing, a licensed and bonded roofing company he established in 1988. For the past 29 years, Salvador Pedroza has provided expert roofing services to the greater Chicagoland area.
Salvador is involved in several community organizations. For the past 29 years, he has been a Board Member of the Little Village Chamber of Commerce, the largest Mexican-American Chamber in the Midwest. He also held the position of President of the Board from 2003-2007. Chairman from 2007-2015.
Salvador is also an Advisor on Local Board of Juntos Podemos (Together We Can). He was also a board member of the General Woods Boys & Girls Club, President of the Club Companeros Unidos de Ocampo Guanajuato. For several years, while residing in the City of Chicago, Salvador organized and participated in community Block Clubs.
Salvador Pedroza has committed himself to the community for more than 30 years.