Juan Soto

Executive Director:

Juan F. Soto, jfsoto@gamaliel.org, 312-666-2663

Juan F. Soto is the Executive Director of Gamaliel of Metro Chicago, Gamaliel of Illinois and Gamaliel Network’s Director of the Civil Rights for Immigrant Department. Juan is also a senior trainer for the Gamaliel Network and mentors and trains organizers at the local and national level.

He oversees Fiesta del Sol, the largest four day Mexican cultural event that draws in over 1.3 million people annually. Fiesta Del Sol is the largest, free family orientated, non-alcohol and tobacco-free festival in the U.S. Fiesta has been an economic engine that has supported the creation of entrepreneurship for many small business owners.



Ana Padilla

Manager of Operations

Ana Padilla, ana@pilsenneighbors.org, 312-666-2663 ext: 222

Ana was born in Jalisco, Mexico and grew up on the near-north side of Chicago since the age of eight. Ana attended Harold Washington College where she obtained an Associates degree in Art with a concentration in Latin American/Latino Studies and a basics certification in Geographical Information Systems. She is currently seeking her Bachelor’s degree in Latin American/Latino Studies.

Ana joined Gamaliel of Metro Chicago at Pilsen Neighbors Community Council as a summer intern in 2008 and became a staff member in 2010. Ana has worked with the Fiesta del Sol vendors, ACT prep program and the Fiesta del Sol Scholarship Program. Currently, Ana is responsible for working with vendors and businesses and logistics for Fiesta del Sol. In her free time, Ana enjoys running marathons.




Business Coordinator:

Vilma Cardona, vilma@gamalielmetrochi.org, 312-666-2663 ext: 221






NurysUcetaCommunity Organizer:

Nurys Uceta, nurys@gamalielmetrochi.org, 312-666-2663 x224

Nurys was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, but move to the United States at the age of eight with her family. She grew up in Wisconsin on Milwaukee’s South side. Nurys obtained a Bachelors of Arts in International Studies with a certificate in Chicano/ Latino studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in May 2015. She is passionate about social justice and is committed to working towards the betterment of our communities. Nurys recently joined Gamaliel of Metro Chicago/Pilsen Neighbors Community Council. 




Legal Clinic Organizer:

Jonathan Lopez, jonathan@gamalielmetrochi.org, 312-666-2663 x225

Jonathan is a tireless community volunteer pursuing a degree in Linguistics. While he is currently focusing his studies on French and Russian, he aims to use his knowledge of different languages in his journey to perfect the arts of conversation and storytelling.

An immigrant himself, Jonathan spends his time at Pilsen Neighbors Community Council helping others through the application process for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. He also assists various Fiesta del Sol committees and staff in preparation for the festival.



FullSizeRender-2Media and Communications Coordinator:

Veronica Montes, veronica@gamalielmetrochi.org, 312-666-2663

Veronica served as a volunteer for Fiesta Del Sol in the summer of 2015 and grew a passionate interest in community organizing. She is currently working on her M.A. in Cultural and Educational Policy Studies at Loyola University and is focusing her thesis on the important role of community involvement in education. She received her B.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2010. Prior to joining Gamaliel Metro Chicago/Pilsen Neighbors Community Council, she worked as the marketing coordinator at Franczek Radelet P.C., an education and labor and employment law firm.

Receive our Newsletter
Stay up to date on what's going on so you don't miss our events.
Get Social
Join us in conversation! Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
Fiesta del Sol
Learn more about our annual festival now in its 44th year.