Press Release

Discussion to Share Experiences of Immigrant Women, Roles as Advocates in Chicago and Beyond

CHICAGO, IL- June 6, 2013— An upcoming panel discussion in Chicago will bring together a diverse group of immigrant communities to shed light on an often overlooked aspect of the immigration debate: the role of gender and the experiences of immigrant women. 

Bridging Divides: Women, Immigration, & Culture will take place Saturday, June 15, 2013 at Casa Michoacan in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. Representatives from Casa Michoacán, the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago, and the Ukrainian National Museum will discuss how women’s voices make a difference at their cultural organizations and their communities at large. The event is produced by the Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) in partnership with the Chicago Cultural Alliance (CCA).  

Xóchitl Bada, Assistant Professor of Latino and Latino Studies at UIC, will be the guest speaker and moderator for the panel discussion. Professor Bada is co-editor of Invisible No More: Mexican Migrant Civic Participation in the U.S. and Context Matters: Latino Immigrant Civic Engagement in Nine U.S. Cities. Bada recently completed a manuscript titled Mexican Migrant Hometown Associations in Chicagoacán: From Philanthropy to Transnational Civic Engagement. 

Bada and the panelists will share how they each became active in their organizations, how they have worked to open doors for more leadership by women in their community, and how traditional gender roles change in the process of immigration. Each panelist will draw from their distinctly Latino, African and Eastern European perspective to share how women are critical advocates for the needs of their families and communities. 

The event is part of the IHC’s Bridging Divides: Conversations on Contemporary Issues, a series of public programs that use the humanities as the lens to explore current cultural, political, and scientific topics. The series, made possible in part by the generous support of The Boeing Company, has a goal of encouraging meaningful exchange of ideas and opinions among diverse speakers and audiences.   

Panelists include:  

Claudia Lucero (Casa Michoacán), was born in Durango, Mexico and immigrated to the United States at the age of 17. She worked with the National Alliance of Latino and Caribbean Communities (NALACC) as a Regional Coordinator of the Mid West, and as the Leadership Program Coordinator for CONFEMEX, the Confederation of Mexican Federations. Claudia is currently President of Durango Unido en Chicago, one of the federations in the Chicago area. In 2006, the Redeye newspaper named Claudia one of “Chicago’s Top 40.” 

Fatima Traore (Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago) was born in Mali, West Africa. She is President of the Illinois Association of Hair Braiders, and she is a business owner of a local hair braiding solon. Fatima works with Uniting African Organization and the Ethiopian Community Association of Chicago on several community issues, such as advocating for a special hair braiding license, which is crucial for the employment of many African immigrant women. 

Helen Matwyshyn (Ukrainian National Museum) was born in Ukraine and came to the U.S. as a refugee after WWII. As a member of the Ukrainian National Museum and the Ukrainian Women National League of America, Helen helped to create an exhibition to mark the 25th Anniversary of Chernobyl disaster and worked to provide much-needed aid to Chernobyl victims.

Bridging Divides: Women, Immigration, & Culture, will take place Saturday, June 15, 2013, 4-5:30pm at Casa Michoacan (1638 S. Blue Island Avenue) in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. The event is free to the public, though reservations are required and can be made by visiting the event page on For more information on the event and/or the Bridging Divides series, please contact Geoffrey Banks, Director of Public Programs and Partnerships at the IHC, at (312) 422-5580, x225 or   

About the Illinois Humanities Council  

The Illinois Humanities Council is an independent, nonprofit state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. The IHC creates programs and funds organizations that promote greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. The IHC is supported by state, federal, and private funds. 

About the Chicago Cultural Alliance

The Chicago Cultural Alliance (CCA) is a consortium of community-based ethnic museums and historical societies with a mission to enhance public understanding of cultural diversity. CCA’s public program series, “Heritage Matters,” provides opportunities for underrepresented communities to be included in the public discourse about important contemporary topics. The series features chosen community representatives who draw on their organization’s rich history, archives, libraries, and collections. 

Media Contact:
Carlos Velázquez
(312) 422-5580, x233 

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