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Civic Awareness Series

Latinx Issues in the Suburbs

Thursday, August 11
7- 8 pm
Free hybrid program, offered both in person at Cantigny Park and online via Zoom.

If you can’t join us in person, register to join virtually with the button below.

Virtual Registration

100-plus years of immigration, contributions and working towards equity

Immigrants from Latin America have been a positive force in our suburban communities for over 100 years. From the earliest Mexican immigrants who arrived to work on the railroads and live in boxcar camps, to the Latinx entrepreneurs who today help keep suburban downtowns alive, the suburban cultural and economic landscape has been shaped by the contributions of Latinos. Join Mexican Cultural Center DuPage Board Chair Sara Phalen to learn about the history of immigration to DuPage and the surrounding area, and how Latinx immigrants have often struggled to have an equal voice in this region. Sara will be joined by Elizabeth Cervantes, co-founder and the director of organizing with the Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project (SSIP), who will discuss naturalization challenges facing immigrants and needed reforms.


Elizabeth Cervantes is co-founder and the director of organizing with the Southwest Suburban Immigrant Project (SSIP), an immigrant rights organization in Chicago’s southwest suburbs. In her current role, she oversees the implementation of civic and youth leadership programs and leads advocacy efforts for issue-based campaigns that SSIP is part of, at the local, state, and federal levels. Elizabeth has been advocating for change and justice for the immigrant community since 2009. Her involvement with policy and community organizing began in college as an immigrant student herself. She obtained her bachelor’s in sociology in 2012, becoming the first college graduate in her family. Today, Elizabeth works to empower immigrant youth and families. Part of her life’s mission has become building SSIP to be a sustainable community-based organization in Chicago’s southwest suburbs, empowering leaders who will transform their communities.


Sara Phalen has had a passion for history since her first visit as a young child to the Princeton (IL) Historical Museum, where she learned about the Cherry mine disaster. Learning about history, other cultures, and places around the world allowed her to take in new experiences beyond her rural farming community. She began working in the registration department at the Spurlock Museum at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, while earning a B.A. in both English and Anthropology. Sara continued her education in graduate school at Northern Illinois University in law, museum studies, and applied anthropology. She is currently finishing a Master’s of Nonprofit Management at North Park University.

Sara joined the West Chicago Museum staff in 2006 as a summer intern and continued with the museum in the roles of education coordinator and registrar. In 2013, she became the director/curator. Sara enjoys sharing local history and the wonderful connections it can make between people. She is also an active West Chicago community member, serving on the boards of the Mexican Cultural Center DuPage, People Made Visible/Gallery 200, and the West Chicago Historical Society. Additionally, she is a core team member of Healthy West Chicago and a Commissioner on the Cultural Arts Commission.


Questions? Please contact: ccorrigan@fdmuseum.org


  This program includes built-in closed captioning through Zoom.