Leadership


Maria del Socorro Pesqueira, President & CEO

Over the last two decades Pesqueira has become a nationally renowned leader in the areas of human service delivery, arts/culture and nonprofit management. As an award-winning and visionary leader, she is a sought-after speaker addressing local, national and hemispheric audiences on a wide variety of prescient topics ranging from private/nonprofit partnerships, women and family issues, health disparities, public health grant-making, immigration reform, violence prevention and intervention, and the future of philanthropy.

In 2000, Pesqueira was named President and CEO to Mujeres Latinas en Accion (MUJERES) one of the longest standing Latina human service organizations in the nation.  Under her leadership MUJERES expanded services to a growing population in the western suburbs and the organization was recently featured as a national model by the Wallace Foundation for strong financial management and bold leadership through the Illinois State budget crisis.  

She serves as the Immediate past Chair of the Illinois Partners for Human Services and is the past Board Chair of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. She served as an Executive Committee Board member for the National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Latino civil rights organization and as an Executive Committee Member of the Community Memorial Foundation, a private independent foundation whose initiatives target community health improvement in western Cook and southeastern DuPage Counties of Illinois. In 2005, Pesqueira served on the Aetna Medical Advisory Board that helped guide the implementation of Medicare Health Support, a voluntary program piloted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to apply the benefits of care management to certain fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries with chronic health conditions.

Pesqueira was recently appointed by Congress to the Commission to study the feasibility of a National Women's History Museum. She currently serves as a National Advisory Council member of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health.  She is currently a fellow of the Chicago Community Trust and conducting research on best practice training for Latina micro-entrepreneurship and the African diaspora in Mexico.

Pesqueira’s awards include being honored with the 2015 MALDEF Excellence in Community Service; 2012 Making A Difference Award by the Chicago Women and Philanthropy, named by Chicago Magazine as one of six Chicagoans of the Year 2006; the 2005 National Organization for Women's (NOW) Women Who Dared Award; The 2003 Thomas Jefferson Award; Accento Magazine’s “Woman of the Year” for 2002; and the Crain’s Chicago Business “40 under 40” for the year 2000. She was selected as a member to The Chicago Network, a premier organization of diverse, professional women in the Chicago area who have reached the highest echelons of business, the arts, government, the professions and academia. In addition, she has been appointed to various City, State and National Commissions.

At an early age as the eldest daughter of Mexican immigrants, she became a translator, advocate, convener, and bridge for information and understanding. As a result, justice, equity, collaborative effort, and having the right tools for success have been her drivers for becoming a passionate servant- leader. Maria and her husband David are proud parents of their son David Ollin.

Pesqueira is a graduate of the Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government Executive Program; St. Thomas University, Mini-MBA program in Nonprofit Management; and DePaul University, B.A. Latin American Studies.  

Maribel Velázquez Gerstner, Board Chair

Maribel is Chief Operating Officer of the Defined Contribution Institutional Investment Association (DCIIA), a nonprofit association dedicated to enhancing the retirement security of American workers. Maribel is responsible for financial and operational management, staff development and execution of strategic goals. Previously, Maribel was Senior Vice President of Operations and Finance at Combined Insurance with responsibility for its customer service, financial operations, agent compensation, retention, new business and underwriting teams. Prior to that, Maribel had a long career at Allstate Insurance Company in a variety of leadership roles. She was President & Chief Operating Officer of Allstate Financial Services, a retail broker dealer offering securities products to Allstate’s customers nationwide. Maribel was also Chief Compliance Officer of Allstate’s non-proprietary broker-dealers and a tax consultant on the Advanced Planning team. Prior to joining Allstate in 1993, Maribel was a Tax Manager with the personal financial planning group at Arthur Andersen & Co. where she provided comprehensive financial planning services to high net worth individuals and families.

Maribel is an active mentor to others, having benefited from participation in the Menttium 100 and Leading Women Executives programs.  Maribel has been on the Board of Directors of Mujeres Latinas en Acción since 2012, serving as Treasurer, Vice Chair and now Chair.

Maribel received her B.A. degree from Northwestern University and her law degree from Loyola University of Chicago School of Law.  She has several professional designations including Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Life Underwriter and Chartered Financial Consultant.  She holds Series 6, 7, 24, 26 and 63 securities licenses and received the Chartered Regulatory and Compliance Professional designation from the FINRA Institute at Wharton.