It’s not often our readers tend to make the news the same week they’re appearing at The Frunchroom. But our final reader is one of the week’s big political stories.
Yesterday, Celina Villanueva was sworn in as the state representative of Illinois’s 21st district (she was appointed to finish the term of Silvana Tabares, who became alderman of Chicago’s 23rd Ward upon the retirement of Ald. Mike Zalewski).
On Thursday, she’ll appear at The Frunchroom to tell us how she got there.
Prior to Tuesday, Celina was the Civic and Youth Engagement Manager at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. With a focus on building immigrant power, developing leaders and expanding our democracy to be inclusive of new voices, Celina ties in her background in organizing, civic engagement and youth development to engage immigrant communities and allies throughout Illinois into the various campaigns at ICIRR.
With various wins under her belt, Celina has helped to expand voting rights through her efforts on online voter registration, Election Day registration, and most recently automatic voter registration, all of which are now law in the Land of Lincoln. Additionally, Celina led the largest immigrant civic engagement program in Illinois that has registered over 200,000 new American voters and mobilized hundreds of thousands more to get out to vote.
Prior to joining ICIRR, Celina served as the Director of Organizing at Chicago Votes, as well as working on various issue-based campaigns including the fight for Marriage Equality in Illinois. She also previously served as Outreach Coordinator for Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, a role that superseded her work on various state and local electoral campaigns.
When she’s not busy trying to change the world into a place where we can all live openly, freely and safely, Celina is an avid reader, lover of musicals, dancing and a great brunch. A born and bred Chicago girl, Celina graduated with a B.A in Latina/Latino Studies with minors in African-American Studies and Spanish from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Join Illinois’s newest state rep at The Frunchroom this Thursday at 730pm at Beverly Arts Center.