Maria’s expertise in public participation is grounded in grassroots organizing efforts for social change. In both her professional and civic life, she creates space for effective public engagement and the implementation of transformative processes. Maria is a founding board member of the Participatory Budgeting Project and from 2010 - 2018 led their technical assistance work in the Midwest and Southern United States. She earned her B.A. in International Peace and Conflict Studies from The Ohio State University before moving to Illinois to serve as an AmeriCorps*VISTA. Maria’s interests in community voice and the role of civil society were the focus on her graduate studies at DePaul University where she earned an M.S. in International Public Service Management. Maria serves on the board of directors for Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) and Voqal. She lives with her partner and their two dogs in Chicago, IL.
Valerie Warren Director of Collaborative Strategy
In addition to providing technical assistance, coaching, training, and facilitation, Valerie holds responsibility for orienting Our City Our Voice within the landscape of those working for change at the state, local and national level. She is constantly looking for opportunities to strategically build power that centers the leadership of those most impacted by the damaging systems we face today. As a community organizer, facilitator, and strategist with more than two decades of experience, she has been involved in a variety of campaigns and projects to address issues of racial, economic, gender and environmental justice. She has supported communities across the South to win and implement participatory processes across the South. In her professional life, she has acted as a project manager in a variety of settings including refugee resettlement, supply chain management, purchasing, sales, marketing, and publishing. Valerie has never met a project she wasn’t curious about or an issue she didn’t want to understand and explore. When she is not plotting with comrades how to build a better world, she loves to spend time with her partner, two kids and magnificent cats, go for a run, or engage in the fine art of porch sitting with friends.
Olga Bautista Director of Community Leadership
Olga has dedicated her professional career and efforts to improving the lives of her community members. She has been a Local School Council Parent Representative at John L. Marsh School, a YWCA Crisis Intervention Specialist, a Board Member of the Immigrant Defense Alliance, a board member of the Southeast Environmental Taskforce (SETF) and a member of the Caucus of Rank and File Educators (CORE). She is trained in Restorative Justice Conflict Resolution, DIY Balloon Mapping and was nominated to present the balloon mapping project for the White House Makers Faire. Olga previously worked as the State Recruiter for the Illinois Migrant Education Program and the Adult Education Coordinator at Association House of Chicago where she honed her skills at responding to the needs of diverse communities. As one of the lead organizers for the Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Pet Coke Olga led the fight that forced state and local politicians including Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s Office, the City Council, and the Governor’s Office to address the pressing environmental issues in the 10th Ward.
2150 S. Canalport Ave., Ste 2A-11, Chicago, IL 60617