Ann Alvarez, the retired former CEO of Casa Central, will be celebrated with the 2016 Negocios Now Lifetime Achievement Award at the third annual Who’s Who in Hispanic Chicago gala event, to be held July 8 at the Chicago Cultural Center.
Alvarez retired in 2015, leaving an indelible legacy on Casa Central as a key figure who turned the nonprofit into the largest Hispanic social service agency in the Midwest, reaching more than 20,000 individuals per year. Alvarez spent 26 years as the executive director of the organization, which was founded by her husband, Daniel Alvarez, in 1954.
During her time at the helm, Casa Central’s annual budget grew from $3.5 million to $23 million, providing comprehensive, wrap-around services for low-income families including early learning and youth development, services for homeless families, and a continuum of care for older adults.
Alvarez’s leadership was grounded in her experiences as a licensed clinical social worker in the Chicago Public Schools, where she worked for about 12 years before taking over for her husband with Casa Central. As Amanda McMillen, the group’s deputy director of children, youth and employment training programs, said upon Alvarez’s retirement, “She is evidence that someone that leads with heart, a strong mission, and a commitment to providing the highest quality services can transform a community.”