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.

Claudia Marchan

Office Manager:

Claudia Marchan – claudia@pilsenneighbors.org, 312-666-2663 ext 224

Claudia was born in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico and grew up on the north side of Chicago since the age of five. Claudia obtained a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance from DePaul University in 2005 and an MBA from National Louis University in 2010.

Claudia joined Pilsen Neighbors Community Council (PNCC), as an intern in 2004 and became a staff member in 2005. At PNCC Claudia has worked on community organizing on social justice issues that she is passionate about education and immigration reform. Currently Claudia is the Fiesta del Sol organizer at PNCC and is responsible for sponsorship and fundraising for the Fiesta del Sol annual fundraiser.

Ana Padilla

Business Coordinator: 

Ana Padilla – ana@pilsenneighbors.org, 312-666-2663 ext: 221

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.

Fernando Rayas

Community Organizer:

Fernando Rayas – fernando@pilsenneighbors.org, 312-666-2663 ext 227






Jonathan2copyLegal 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.

IMG_0054Communications and Media Coordinator:

Maria Castañeda – maria@gamalielmetrochi.org, 312-666-2663 x224

Maria studied English and Communication at Alma College in Alma, Michigan. After graduating, Maria moved to Chicago and started volunteering for Fiesta del Sol. This led to being hired as the Communications Coordinator where her work involves writing, working with media, heading up social media campaigns and website management.

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