Public Service Leader
Organization: 22nd Ward, City of Chicago
Title: Director of Policy and Community Outreach
As an immigration rights advocate and justice-driven professional, Elianne “Ely” Bahena is a passionate Latina leader from the Little Village “La Villita” neighborhood in Chicago’s Southwest Side, that strives to empower and uplift her community.
As a result, she began a new position this year at the 22nd Ward Public Service Office in Chicago, where she serves as the Director of Policy and Community Outreach, her focus is to ensure the best quality of life for the residents of the Ward.
She is a LCLAA 2022 Trabajadoras Fellow for the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, working to empower Latinas by elevating their voices for justice and equity.
Before joining the 22nd Ward, she worked in the nonprofit sector for more than seven years, advocating for the protection of immigrant survivors of Domestic Violence and for the rights of immigrant communities across Illinois. Most recently, her leadership in the nonprofit sector was recognized by the Young Nonprofit Professional Network (YNPN) where she was awarded YNPN’s Young Nonprofit Professional of the Year Award in 2021.
As a proud daughter of immigrant parents from Guerrero, Mexico and as a first-generation college graduate, she uses her personal experiences to empower those around her and bring justice to her community. She serves on the Board of Directors of Mujeres Latinas en Accion and led their Young Professional Advisory Council as Chairwoman in 2020. She is the Chairwoman of Enlace Chicago’s Associate Board (ECAB), an Executive Board member in the HACE Chicago Auxiliary Board, and is the Communications Committee Lead for the Young Women’s Giving Council at the Chicago Foundation for Women.
Through a scholarship for nonprofit professionals, she participated in the Mujeres de HACE program and was able to grow with the amazing women in her cohort. The transformative program took place at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite it being virtual, the group was able to create a bond. Like her, many were daughters of immigrants and first-generation college graduates who shared the same challenges as Latina professionals.
Her group members and the HACE programming made her a stronger and more determined Latinx professional by the end of the session. It allowed her to directly invest in her professional growth and receive guidance about what her career could look like