Meet the Board of Directors





Maria Noyola is a first generation Mexican American born in Chicago’s Little Village and raised in the suburb of Bensenville.  She was the first in her family to successfully graduate from college and receive her Associate’s Degree from College of DuPage.  Maria’s passion is volunteering and working with the youth.  She has an after school program for Latina students where she promotes higher education, involvement in the community, and provides resources for Latino families to encourage and support their daughters in achieving their educational goals and future dreams.

Currently, she is the Executive Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent of Keeneyville District 20.

Committees:  Build the Dream – STEM Conference, Dare to Dream Conference, Fundraising, Social Media/Marketing, and Student Life Panels

Born and raised of Mexican descent on the Northwest side of Chicago with Catholic upbringing, Heidi E. Cervantes graduated from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) with both a Bachelors of Architecture and Master’s Degree in Architecture.  She has been married for over 10 years to her high school sweetheart, Jose M. Garcia. 

With over 15 years of experience in the industry (retail and corporate interiors), she has played a critical role in FitzGerald’s project teams supporting architectural and interior design projects with a skill for both aesthetics and technical accuracy.

In addition, she is part of the Social Media Committee for the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI Chicago) and is on the Membership Committee for the Near South Planning Board.

Committees:  Build the Dream – STEM Conference, Fundraising, Program, Scholarship, Social Media and Website

Cecilia Montalvo arrived to the United States at the age of 3 who is pursuing a B.A. in Healthcare Management with a Concentration in Finance.  Currently she is Manager of Special Projects and Accounts Receivable at AdvantEdge Healthcare Solutions in Lombard.

Committees: Build the Dream – STEM Conference, Fundraising, Scholarship, Grant Writing and Website

Maria Cristina Barajas-Silva is a first generation college graduate who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Multi-Languages and a Masters Entry in Nursing from Elmhurst College.  Maria has been involved in community organizing and has found a passion for public health community and health literacy.  She is working on becoming a certified diabetes educator and currently is a registered nurse at Rush Oak Park Hospital.

Committees: Build the Dream – STEM Conference Registration, Social Media/Marketing, Student Life Panelists

Kathy Brenniman is one of the founders of Dare to Dream (2009). She holds a B.A. and Masters in English and taught English in high school for 7 years in Texas and Michigan and at the College of DuPage for 7 years. She earned a law degree from Northern Illinois University and was a senior attorney in the City of Evanston for 18 years. As a founder of Dare to Dream, she wrote the start-up grant and assisted in obtaining 501(c) (3) status for Dare to Dream.

Committees:  Administration, Registered Agent; Chair, Dare to Dream Career Panels, Grant Writing and Scholarship

Jose M. Garcia is the founder and CEO of CyberGhost Security, LLC.  He has over 27 years of experience in Network and Cyber Security.  He provides Penetration Testing, IT Services, Computer Networking and Computer Security.  The training he conducts covers Security, Virtualization and Windows system topics.  Jose is passionate in helping others in learning how to protect their information and themselves from harm.  He graduated with three degrees in Electronics and Computer Technology at Devry University and Network System Administrator and Information & Cyber Security at ITT Technical Institute. 

Committees:  IT and Website

Diana Diaz-Espindola is of Ecuadorian descent and is a first generation college graduate in her family.  She holds a B.A, in International Relations with a concentration in Peace and Conflict Resolution, from the American University in Washington, DC.  Since then she has worked at several Chicago non-profit organizations dealing with domestic local affairs such as children and youth development, criminal/juvenile justice system, community organizing, childhood obesity, sports & leadership development, among others. Currently, she’s the executive vice president at Income Tax Y Mas where she continues to service the Latino community through financial and immigration services.

Committees:  Dare to Dream Conference Strategies, Registration and Scholarship

Yamil Jasmen Malavé, M. Ed. was born in Puerto Rico and is a first generation college graduate.  She earned a B.A. in Spanish Literature from Northeastern University and a Master’s in Education with honors from the University of Phoenix.  Her love for teaching and working with the Hispanic community can be seen in and out of her classroom, as she also is a mentor for the University of Phoenix graduate program where she mentors and guides future teachers.  She also teaches adult ESL classes in her community to help Latinos learn a second language and to continue their education.  She has a catering and cake business called “I’ll Start on Monday” where she creates cakes and Puerto Rican cuisine.  She is a Dare to Dream board member and the school outreach coordinator for the annual Dare to Dream and Stem Conferences.

Committees:  Build the Dream – STEM Conference, Registration and School Outreach Coordinator

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Stephanie Luebke is of Mexican and German descent who graduated from Kaneland High School and achieved Principles of Biomedical Science Degree at Fox Valley Career Center.  Currently, she is enrolled at College of DuPage pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Physician Assistant.  She is an IT assistant at Techno Consulting that provides maintenance for hundreds of devices in different locations, such as schools and companies and is a volunteer at ACen Midwest Animation.

Committees:  Career Panels and Social Media/Marketing

Gloria Orozco currently works for State Representative Kathleen Willis as an Administrative Assistant in the 77thDistrict and part-time for the Village of Melrose Park.  She holds an Associate’s Degree from Triton College in General Studies and a Bachelor’s Degree in Art from Eastern Illinois University.  It is her true passion to be active in her community and works with different non-profit youth organizations to motivate children through sports and other activities.  She has been a board member with Dare to Dream since 2013.

Committees: Mother’s Program, Registration and Social Media/Marketing

Amellaly Pozos was born in Oaxaca Mexico.  her family migrated to Villa Park IL when she 5years old. Through hard work and lots of ambition Amelllaly became a successful Logistics Broker and is now a top representative at her job. She credits her mothers sacrifice, 28 years of growing up undocumented, and God for her current success. 

Committees:  Registration

Haydee Pozos is a Logistics Coordinator at INEOS Styrolution a leading, global styrenics supplier with a focus on styrene monomer, polystyrene, ABS Standard and styrenic specialties.  She is currently pursuing her Business Degree at the College of DuPage and has been a Dare to Dream Board member for four years.

Committees:  Build the Dream – STEM Conference, Registration and Volunteers

Kate Skegg, who came to the USA from England, has a BSc in Microbiology and an MA in Online and Distance Education.  As one of the founding members of the Dare to Dream team, she helped organize our online presence: website, email, social media and photography.  Kate also volunteers for AAUW (American Association of University Women).

Committees: Build the Dream – STEM Conference and Social Media/Marketing

Joan Velez is first generation college graduate.  She received her B.A. from DePaul University in Business Law.  She continued her education and received her Master’s degree from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Applied Forensic Psychology.  She is employed as a Police Officer with the Elmhurst Police Department and will one day be Chief of Police.

Committees:  Grant Writing, Scholarship and Website

Samantha Velazquez is of Mexican descent who  graduated from Triton College in 2016 with an Associate of Science degree, majoring in Computer Science.  Currently, she is enrolled at North Eastern Illinois University pursuing her Bachelor in Computer Science.  She is an IT professional whom currently works as a Technology Support Specialist with Single Path, LLC. at Lemont High School.  In addition, she was part of Tech Support internship for West Leyden High school.  She has the following certifications CompTIA A+, Microsoft Office PowerPoint Specialist and Microsoft Word Specialist.  During her spare time she volunteers on various committees, such as:  Leyden District 212 Advisory Committee and Triton College Advisory Committee to name a few.

Committees:  Career Panels, IT and Website

Our Upcoming Events

STEM Conference – May 4

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