We are extremely proud to present the 2019 Leaders for a New Chicago.

Collectively these 14 individuals represent Chicago, from every corner of the city, many South and West Side communities and each of the Foundation’s four program areas. They are community-based, community-centered, and influenced by issues facing Chicago. Many are multi-disciplinary and represent the intersections of multiple program areas, including Art, Justice, and Media & Storytelling. There are a range of seasoned professionals and newcomers, folks that have been doing work in the communities for up to 30 years and individuals who are new to Chicago.

Through these awards, the Foundation and the Leaders for a New Chicago selection committee are helping to retell the story of what a leader looks like—and it looks like Chicago. Women, men and gender nonconforming—LGBTQ and African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American (ALAANA). Leaders are of a wide range in age and experience, and they represent and speak to our city’s unique history.

We look forward to watching from the outside and seeing how this group of individuals will become a collective of leadership through Chicago.

Meet our 2019 Leaders for a New Chicago:

Aymar Jean Christian

Founder & Head of Development - OTV Open Television

Aymar Jean Christian started Open Television in 2015 as a platform for intersectional media programming by Chicago-based artists. Aymar is evolving OTV into an incubator with the goal of creating the first fully funded network run by queer/trans/women of color that can produce new stories, pay and manage artists, develop community (in Chicago and online), as well as promote artists owning and profiting from their own intellectual property in a sustainable, ethical way.

Aymar is changing Hollywood while also amplifying the voices and impact of queer/trans/women of color media and storytellers, highlighting under-represented communities and narratives from primarily south and west side communities and developing the next generation of storytellers. Aymar and OTV embody the next generation of media making, one that is radically inclusive, available online and packaged for wide distribution.

Photo credit (main pic): Ally Almore

Tonika Lewis Johnson

Visual Artist and Community Activist - Changing Worlds

Tonika Lewis Johnson, a visual artist/photographer from Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, often explores urban segregation and documents the nuance and richness of the black community. As a photographer and teaching artist, she has been engaged in building an artistic legacy that gained citywide recognition in the last two years. Johnson transformed a project, Folded Map, into an advocacy and policy-influencing tool that invites audiences to open a dialogue and question how we are all socially impacted by racial and institutional conditions that segregate the city.

Alongside her teaching artist and community activism work, she is keenly invested and vocal for how urban environment is structured and its impact on our social networks. While she has helped create R.A.G.E. and the Englewood Arts Collective, she has worked extensively with Changing Worlds to further her social practice art in particular.

Photo credit: Philip Dembinski

Viveka Ray-Mazumder

Manager of Youth Organizing - Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago

Viveka Ray-Mazumder, manager of youth organizing and the KINETIC program at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago, works to mobilize, coordinate, and encourage civic engagement and grassroots organizing among Asian American and immigrant youth in Chicago.

Viveka’s commitment to community and justice combines both direct grassroots action with a longer policy-based vision. They transform the people with whom they interact and build them into leaders. Whether through formal training and project curricula or a framing and analyses of community issues, Viveka urges others to think and act more intentionally in a way that is intersectional—combining race and gender fluidity in important ways often not discussed.

Monica Cosby

Community Organizer - Westside Justice Center

Monica Cosby, leader of the participatory defense work at Westside Justice Center, is a forceful advocate for incarcerated women and the fight for post-incarceration rights in Chicago. She is becoming a key part of the civic dialogue around incarceration and incarcerated rights, moving the community to address the systems and public policies they collectively want to change.

Monica has a commitment to the communities of the West Side of Chicago and to communities of incarcerated women in the criminal justice system. Her leadership is rooted in her experience as a formerly incarcerated woman who found agency while in prison to help others and to shift policy.

Photo credit: Kelly Lenza of Bloom Photography

Page May

Co-founder & Organizing Director - Assata's Daughters

Page May is a co-founder of Assata’s Daughters, which creates a space where Black youth can learn political education from Black women and gender non-conforming people. Page models new and compelling ways to operate and build capacity, focusing on distributing and ceding power while still maintaining a strong voice in the community she lives in and supports.

Page centers African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American (ALAANA) and primarily south and west side communities voices and emphasizes coalition building across communities evidenced by the groundbreaking work creating a bridge between the Latino and African American communities around the work of police accountability.

Photo credit: Ally Almore

Analía Rodríguez

Executive Director - Latino Union

Analía Rodríguez is executive director of Latino Union of Chicago and a lifelong advocate for immigrant, labor and women’s rights. Analía's efforts for workers’ rights advocacy and justice-based models in Chicago reflect a commitment to the communities she knows and lives in. She builds leaders from the Southwest Side of Chicago, pulling them into decision-making and sharing her analysis and knowledge with other worker centers. She challenges organizations in other sectors to consider policy implications on low-wage and undocumented workers and supports her peer executive leaders as they move into greater leadership roles.

Photo credit: Ally Almore

Carlos Tortolero

Founder & President - National Museum of Mexican Art

Carlos Tortolero is founder and president of the National Museum of Mexican Art, a platform for driving civic dialogue through art exhibitions. NMMA’s exhibitions have helped shape conversations about race, immigration, LGBTQ issues, and political repression. While some founders work only to bring attention and audience into their institution, Tortolero crisscrosses the city to work on issues that impact Chicagoans. Tortolero has made culture in Chicago more inclusive by his tenacity and voice.

In addition to the groundbreaking work he has done to build and sustain a Mexican cultural and artistic instruction, Carlos has become an advocate and voice for Mexican culture and done extensive racial equity work and coalition building across communities.

Photo credit: Ally Almore

Luis Gutiérrez

Founder & Chief Executive Officer - Latinos Progresando

Luis Gutiérrez, founder of Latinos Progresando, which helps Latino immigrants navigate the complexities of the U.S. immigration system, has set the standard of high quality and deep impact that has led to Latinos Progresando’s success. His uncompromising commitment to quality has also contributed to the nonprofit sector writ large through its impact on developing skilled professionals and increasing the capacity of partner organizations.

Luis has embedded the foundational idea that sustainable community change is not possible without sustainable community organizations.

Heather Miller

Executive Director - American Indian Center

Heather Miller (Wyandotte Nation), executive director of the American Indian Center, also serves as a Chicago-based advocate for the American Indian community through an art-centered focus. Heather leads with respect and understanding of older traditions but looks to bring new ideas and technology to highlight these traditions with a contemporary lens. Remaining respectful of and knowledgeable about these traditions and open to new ideas, Miller is able to navigate challenges and bring a diverse community together.

Heather merges the daunting task of being both a fundraising executive director and an advocate and leader of a cultural institution.

Photo credit: Adam Sings in the Timber

Sarah Ross

Co-founder & Co-director of Art + Exhibitions

Sarah Ross is founder and co-director of Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project, which works at the intersection of art and justice, collaborating with incarcerated artists and writers to produce work, exhibits and dialogue. The collaborative models Sarah employs to build a robust community of educators and learners at Stateville Prison impacts the ecology and dialogues of the Chicago art and justice communities. She also supports the work of other artists, writers and organizers across the city. She promotes community-defined forms of art, creative expression, and creative production, working with artists to adapt their courses to the demands of a prison to raising funds for artist projects and stepping in and out as needed.

Photo credit: Ally Almore

J. Gibran Villalobos

Partnerships & Engagement Liaison - Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

J. Gibran Villalobos is Partnership and Engagement Liaison with the Museum of Contemporary Art, which specifically developed the position for Gibran due to his demonstrated track record developing relationships with community-based organizations and artists.

Gibran expands the MCA’s mission in response to the needs of the cultural communities it serves. He promotes the need for and value of the arts in ongoing community and neighborhood engagement and works to amplify African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American (ALAANA) voices in all the outreach and community engagement the institution does, brokering relationships between internal and external stakeholders. In doing so, he is effecting change on the institution’s growth and how it is being perceived and received in different communities. Across all his roles, he engages his work through the lens of racial equity.

Photo credit (main image): Leslie Frempong
Photo credit (bio image): Anjali Pinto

Darryl Holliday

Co-founder & News Lab Director - City Bureau

Darryl Holliday is co-founder of and News Lab director at City Bureau, a civic newsroom based on Chicago's South Side. City Bureau brings journalists and communities together to produce media that is impactful, equitable and responsive to the public and employs a shared leadership model among its four co-founders. Darryl’s leadership style and the model of City Bureau bring new energy into the idea of what leadership and journalism mean.

Darryl and City Bureau employ an alternative journalism platform to train and promote African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American (ALAANA) journalists, media and storytellers. He is co-leading the charge to build civic engagement of media and storytelling within the community and to challenge the idea of what media entities should be. From his work as an investigative journalist to his vision in re-imagining the very roles of community and journalists with the groundbreaking organization, City Bureau, Darryl is pioneering ways to both improve and let the public shape the Chicago information landscape.

Photo credit: Ally Almore

Emmanuel Pratt

Co-founder & Executive Director - Sweet Water Foundation

Emmanuel Pratt is a co-founder and executive director of the Sweet Water Foundation. Sweet Water practices Regenerative Neighborhood Development to transform vacant spaces and abandoned buildings in the Englewood and Washington Park neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side into economically and ecologically productive and sustainable community assets, such as farms, gardens and workshops. Emmanuel brings together community around the goals of highlighting the voices in African, Latinx, Asian, Arab and Native American (ALAANA) communities and developing organizational and community leaders.

Emmanuel has the ability to center and promote community-defined forms of art and creative production happening within and in collaboration on the South Side of Chicago.He works on issues of food justice, art, poverty and farming to activate dialogues in Chicago.

Imelda Salazar

Community Organizer - Southwest Organizing Project

Imelda Salazar is a longtime champion for justice in Southwest Chicago, first as a leader and now as an organizer with the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP). Imelda possesses strong working relationships through her black/brown dialogues; raising and addressing issues of racial equity in the community. Imelda is known for her understanding of organizing and community issues and for her engagement with others as she works to develop workable and winnable solutions. She knows how to effectively motivate people to take action and how to help people plan and implement those actions.

Photo credit: Ally Almore