Staff photo taken in January 2020 by Gordon Walek.

David Aguirre, CP4P Outreach Worker |
David joined SWOP in September 2020 and likes watching football and reading.

Jeff Bartow, Executive Director | Ext. 111

Jeff has been organizing in the Chicago metropolitan area since 1989 after spending 10 years organizing in Fort Worth, Texas.   Jeff has been a resident of Southwest Chicago since 1992. He joined SWOP as Executive Director in September 2002.  Prior to becoming the Executive Director of SWOP, he served as the Executive Director of the Interfaith Leadership Project of Cicero, Berwyn and Stickney for nearly a decade.

Jessica Biggs, Southwest System of Care Organizer | Ext. 129

Jessica comes to SWOP as our System of Care Organizer to lead the Southwest System of Care work.  Jessica is a former Chicago Public Schools principal and brings a commitment to finding avenues for schools and communities to work together to support the growth of each.  Jessica has worked in community-based youth development organizations and as a teacher prior to her tenure as principal of Burke Elementary School in the Washington Park Neighborhood.  She grew up in the Chicago area before spending time in the Bay Area and is happy to be back home.  Jessica likes to follow local politics, is an avid reader and recently has learned to enjoy cooking—she does it pretty well, too!

Sam Brandstrader, CP4P Data Manager |
Sam joined SWOP in February 2020. Sam likes exercising and playing basketball.

Calvin Brown, CP4P Case Manager |
Calvin started working at SWOP in February 2020. Calvin also coaches high school football. Calvin likes watching Chicago sports and exercising.

Chris Brown, Director of Operations | Ext. 128

Chris joined SWOP in July of 2016.  He has worked as an organizer, funder, program manager, and researcher.  Having grown up in Missouri, Chris is a St. Louis Cardinals fan.  After eight years working at LISC, Chris joined SWOP to get back to his organizing roots.  His work at SWOP covers fundraising, communications, human resources, and other tasks that support the organizing work.

Leslie Carrillo, Sustainable Community Schools Coordinator |

Leslie began working with SWOP as a 7th grader at Morrill School through the Teen REACH program.  After graduating from Kelly High School and obtaining her Associates Degree, she has now come full circle back to run the Sustainable Community Schools Program at Morrill.  Leslie still lives in the neighborhood with her family and she is looking forward to becoming a teacher.  For fun, Leslie plays with her pet boxer, Rocky.

David Castro, Education Organizer | Ext. 122

Castro is returning to SWOP after a two-year hiatus. Most recently, Castro has worked as the Student Transition Coordinator for the Ogden-Jenner School merger, taught at the university level, and is working on his PhD. in Education from Loyola University.  Castro was raised in the Albany Park community, but has many family members in Southwest Chicago. Castro is bringing his personal and professional experiences with CPS, and his organizing background, to SWOP in order to work with educators and others to improve schools in the community. Mysteriously, Castro is both a big Cubs and Mets fan.

Bilaal Evans, CP4P Outreach Worker |
Bilaal joined SWOP in 2012. Bilaal likes swimming and reading.

Carmello Garcia, CP4P Outreach
Carmello started working at SWOP in February 2020. Carmello likes writing music and spending time with family.

Alina Landa, Office Assistant

Alina has lived in the community for more than three decades and graduated from Maria High School, making her very familiar with SWOP Strategy Team member Sister Margaret Zalot.  She is the mother of three and loves spending time with them exploring downtown.  Her daughter is a musician who just started at Chicago State, her oldest son works in IT, and her youngest is a junior at Hubbard High School.

Armando Mancilla, CP4P Case Manager |
Armando officially joined SWOP as a case manager in September 2020, but has been working with the SWOP team through Merrill since the 2019 school year. Armando enjoys listening to hip hop, salsa, and old classics and watching films. Armando is from Brighton Park and is also a part of the Increase the Peace Initiative there.

Shabbir Martin, CP4P Outreach Worker |
Shabbir started working at SWOP in August 2020. Shabbir likes exercising and listening to music.

aSWOP Staff-Harry Meyer -2650Harry Meyer, Director of Vacant Property Reactivation | | Ext. 131

Born and raised in Gage Park, Harry has been working in Southwest Chicago for more than 30 years.  Harry was a member of the SWOP Strategy Team for a number of years before joining the staff in 2013.  He leads SWOP’s Reclaiming Southwest housing development campaign.  Harry has a strong interest in preserving the community, which is why the housing work is so important to him.  He’s an active leader at Ashburn Lutheran Church and an avid photographer and has taken several of the pictures you see on the SWOP website.

Orville Mustafa Miller, CP4P Outreach Worker |
Orville joined SWOP in February 2020. Orville is from Woodlawn and enjoys exercising and reading.

Ana Laura Narro, Parent Mentor Organizer | Ext. 116

Ana Laura joins the SWOP staff after working for many years as a Parent Mentor.  She was a teacher at Nightingale before leaving that position to follow her passion for the Parent Mentor Program.  Ana Laura studied art and loves to paint.  She puts her art skills to work designing T-shirts with her brother.  Ana Laura is a parent of two children and a big lover of dogs and horseback riding.

Manny Ocampo, CP4P Outreach Worker |
Manny joined SWOP in February 2020. Manny enjoys playing video games and exercising. Manny is from Chicago Lawn.

Maggie Perales, Organizer | Ext. 118

Maggie has lived in the Southwest Chicago community for 30 years after moving to the community from Little Village.  She has been an active member and leader at St. Nick’s parish for almost as long as she’s been in the neighborhood.  She and her husband raised their four sons in the community, sending them to the local parish school.  Maggie started at SWOP as a part-time bookkeeper in 1997, but realized that her passion wasn’t numbers, but was organizing.  She is active in SWOP’s immigration, health, and the Parent Mentor Program Statewide work, and is the organizer for St. Nicholas of Tolentine & Queen of the Universe.

aSWOP Staff-Rafi Peterson-2641Rafi Peterson, CeaseFire Director

Rafi is a long-time resident of Chicago Southwest.  He grew up in Altgeld Gardens on the far south side of the city and played multiple sports as a young man at Carver High School.  Rafi is very active as a leader at the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) and runs a house for men transitioning out of prison and into the community.  He is an avid reader and competes with Jeff Bartow to see who can read the most books.

Carlil Pittman, Morrill Family Engagement Organizer

Carlil grew up in the community and attended Gage Park High School, where he started his organizing career with SWOP around ending zero-tolerance policies in schools that would decrease the volume of the school-to-prison pipeline. After spending time as a youth leader with SWOP, Carlil worked for the last three years as an organizer with Communities United working on anti-violence initiatives.  Carlil comes back to SWOP to work with families at Morrill Elementary School as part of the Sustainable Community Schools program.  In his off time, Carlil has his hands full with four young boys.  Carlil is a big bowler and has a high score of 248. Carlil is excited to bring his knowledge and skills that he has obtained as both an organizer and family oriented individual back to his community.

Gina Ramirez, CP4P Outreach Worker |
Gina joined SWOP in September 2020. Gina founded Party Per Purpose, a Brighton Park nonprofit working with teens. Gina likes biking and playing basketball.

Edith Robles, Bookkeeper | Ext. 110

Edith is a 20 year resident of Southwest Chicago and has been a long-time leader at SWOP.  Along with her husband Sergio, she has raised a son and a daughter in the community.  Edith is very active at her church, St. Nicolas of Tolentine and serves as the Religious Education Director at the parish.  She is a big reader of religious books and loves numbers, which makes her the ideal person to be SWOP’s bookkeeper.

Joel Rodriguez, Organizer | Ext. 112

Joel has returned to the SWOP family after working for two years at Gage Park High School.  He grew up in Chicago and has worked with a number of organizations leading programs for young people. Joel and his wife live on the Southwest side of Chicago where they are raising their four children. Joel will be leading all of SWOP’s youth-focused work, in both schools and the community.  In addition to his work at SWOP, Joel is an assistant pastor at his church.  For fun, watches a lot of Chicago Bears’ football.

Ruby Rodriguez, Financial Manager of the statewide Parent Mentor Program

After many years of being involved in SWOP’s work, Ruby Rodriguez is joining the team full-time as the financial manager of the statewide Parent Mentor Program. Ruby brings expertise from working in the banking and mortgage industries for twenty-one years. She is excited to move into a more fulfilling role which will impact people’s lives. She is finishing up her degree in business management. Ruby enjoys spending time with her family and giving back to her community. Their family moved to the Southwest side five years ago in order to be closer to SWOP. When Ruby has a spare moment, she loves spending time caring for her gardens of flowers.

Imelda Salazar, Organizer | | Ext. 120

Imelda was born in Guatemala and came to Chicago after experiencing missionary work in Mexico.  She fell in love with her adopted city and felt compelled to take on the issues she saw in communities in Chicago.  While her background is in organizational management, she found she naturally had all the skills to be a good community organizer.  She has been at SWOP since 2007.  She works on the issues of immigration, leadership development, and churches.  Imelda is a strong trainer for SWOP and has led neighborhood and city-wide community organizing trainings in both English and Spanish.

Mayra Sarabia, Parent Mentor Organizer | Ext. 119

Mayra joins the SWOP staff after being a long-time leader.  Mayra first got passionate about the organization as a Parent Mentor at Eberhart School.  She moved from being a mentor to being a coordinator to being an organizer.  She likes relating to people and helping them develop as leaders.  For her, the excitement in the work comes from never knowing exactly how you will impact someone else’s life.  Mayra loves the outdoors and hiking, she’s learning how to be a jewelry maker and potter, and she is the mother of three children.

Jasmine Serrano, Teen Reach Manager | Ext. 125

Jasmine Serrano leads the Teen REACH program at Morrill School. Jasmine has work with SWOP as a consultant for the last four years on Teen REACH, Play Streets and other youth-oriented programming.  She started as a youth leader when she was 16.  Jasmine is a graduate of Marquette Elementary School and Gage Park High School. She is also a vegetarian and the proud parent of one cat.

aSWOP Staff-Adriana Velasquez-2684

Adriana Velázquez, Organizer | Ext. 113

Adriana grew up in the Back of the Yards neighborhood in the Southside of Chicago, where she got her first organizing experience working with friends in her parish to bring awareness and action around the issues of immigration and education.  When she was placed at SWOP through One Summer Chicago, she was surprised to learn that she could build a career doing what she’d been doing in her community as a volunteer.  Adriana graduated from Northeastern Illinois University in 2015 with a Bachelors in music. She is also the lead vocalist of Quinto Imperio, a local latin alternative band whose music is rooted in the stories and culture of the Latino and Immigrant community. She has participated with SWOP since 2012, and stepped in as organizer in 2015. Adriana works on the issues of immigration and leadership development. She works on the Parent Mentor Program as part of the statewide Parent Engagement Institute team and as Organizer and Trainer locally for Azuela, Mckay, Pasteur, and Sandoval Elementary Schools.

Dantay WilliamsTeen REACH Program Coordinator |

Dantay first joined SWOP through VOYCE while a student at Gage Park High School because he wanted to be a leader in his community. Dantay’s roles at SWOP have included: VOYCE Core Leader, Teen REACH Instructor, Teen REACH Assistant Coordinator, and now Teen REACH Program Coordinator. Mentoring youth drives Dantay in his work as he believes youth are the future! Dantay enjoys photography, videography, script writing, acting, going to the gym, playing sports, poetry and rapping.