Multilingual Chicago Board of Directors is composed of representatives of ethnic organizations, members of community groups and educators, who strongly believe that using other languages in addition to English brings many benefits to the City of Chicago.
Janet Nolan, MEd
Mrs. Nolan, the co-founder of Inter-American Magnet School, is a leader in the field of
bilingual education in Chicago. She worked in the Chicago Public School's Department
of Multicultural Education and provided in-services to bilingual teachers all over the city.
She coordinated a book, "Dual Language Immersion Program Models" which was
based upon the experience of Inter-American and two other schools in Chicago. While
Janet Nolan was still at Inter-American, she established the school's Curriculum of the
Americas, which determines the social studies focus and general theme for each grade
level. Mrs. Nolan is a founder member of Multilingual Chicago. As a member of
Multilingual Chicago, Ms. Nolan has been instrumental in bringing the Seal of Biliteracy
to the State of Illinois. Currently, Janet Nolan is enjoying her retirement in the company
of her family.
Maria J. Vargas, PhD
María J. Vargas, Ph.D. – Dr. Vargas is a distinguished Professor Emerita, St. Augustine College in Chicago. She is currently the Education Coordinator for the Head Start Program at Mary Crane League. Dr. Vargas earned a doctorate degree in Educational Leadership from DePaul University, Chicago. Dr. Vargas’ research interest lies in examining policies, services, and programs that impact the educational opportunities of bilingual students. She is a former member of the Chicago Board of Education (1990-1995). Dr. Vargas is an active member in the following organizations: Multilingual Chicago (founder member and Chair), National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Illinois Early Learning Council, Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI), World Organization for Early Childhood Education (OMEP), and National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE). Dr. Vargas has participated in and made presentations on topics related to bilingual education at various conferences at the local, state, national, and international level.
Julio Cruz, EdD
As an educator, Julio Cruz has been a lifelong advocate for bilingual and multicultural education. For thirty two years he worked for the Chicago public schools as a teacher, administrator, principal and district superintendent. Dr. Cruz also worked ten years as an adjunct professor at Northeastern Illinois University. Julio is past President of the Illinois Association for Multilingual Multicultural Education (IAMME), the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE), and Multilingual Chicago (MLC). He is the person mostly responsible for introducing the Seal of Biliteracy to MLC and lobbied for passage of the law at the Illinois legislature. Although he has been recognized by many different organizations, he is most appreciative of being selected in 2020 for NABE’s prestigious Ramon Santiago Award.
Julio Cruz is a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University (BA), Loyola University Chicago (MEd) and Peabody College of Vanderbilt University (EdD).
Joaquin Villegas, PhD
Dr. Joaquín Villegas graduated from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana with a Doctoral Degree in Education. Both his BA in History and MA in Educational Leadership were awarded by the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus. He has worked for more than 45 years at the elementary and secondary grade levels as well as two and four institutions of higher education. He is a Fulbright of South Africa 2010 and Jamaica 2016. Dr. Villegas retired as an Associate Professor Emeritus from Northeastern Illinois University after 16 years as faculty member in the Teacher Education Program and Coordinator of both graduate and undergraduate programs in bilingual/bicultural education. As a co-founder of St. Augustine College, he continues teaching United States History and Political Science in the School of Education. Dr. Villegas research agenda has concentrated in bilingual education, multicultural education, the seal of biliteracy and most recently on translanguaging. As a co-founder of Multilingual Chicago, he is committed to embracing, valuing, and enhancing our multilingual learners.
Elizabeth Murphy, M.L.I.S.
Elizabeth Murphy served as the Library Director for St. Augustine College from 2007 to 2018. She is currently working at Wauconda High School in the EL department as a language assistant. She earned her MLIS at Dominican University and also has a MA in Linguistics from Northeastern Illinois University. Elizabeth has been a member of Multilingual Chicago since 2011 and is deeply committed to Multilingual education. Elizabeth also enjoys gardening and volunteers for Natural Habitat Evanston and Rewilding Evanston.
Miryam Assaf-Keller, PhD
Miryam Assaf Keller earned the Ph.D. in School Leadership from Southern Illinois University (1987) and previous degrees from UIC. Miryam’s experiences over/above early childhood, bilingual special education city-wide diagnostician, Assistant Principal, Tenure Track Assistant Professor at Illinois State University (ISU) /grant director Special Education Bilingual Early Childhood. Miryam submitted a conceptual proposal to Senator Miguel Delvalle to amend the Illinois School Code to protect the rights of the bilingual children during assessment and placement processes. Public Act 87-0995 was enacted. Miryam demonstrated the change process from underperforming school to a level I school during the employment at Lloyd School. Miryam became a retiree from CPS and the SURS systems in 2008. Miryam continue academia as part-time at UIC 2009-2010; Full Time Faculty at the St Augustine College in 2010 –2018. The present Board membership to Multilingual Chicago triggered advocacy promoting secondary student with the SEAL OF BILITERACY. At UIC, Miryam is an alumni recruiter volunteer and assists LARES with scholarship for Latino bilingual students.
Sharon Saracco, MEd
Sharon Saracco has worked in the Special Education field for her entire career. She has worked with students of all ages, has been a Behavior Analyst as well as a classroom teacher. Most recently Sharon has worked for the Special Education District of Lake County at Gages Lake School which is a therapeutic day school. She has a BA in Special Education and earned a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Northeastern Illinois University. Sharon has been a member of Multilingual Chicago since 2012. Sharon retired in 2019 and enjoys traveling, reading, gardening, and, most of all, spending time with her three young grandsons.
Luis Alfredo Narváez Gete
Luis Alfredo Narváez Gete is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Adult Education at the City Colleges of Chicago, where he leads the English as a Second Language and High School Equivalency programs. In his previous role as Project Director for 10 years at the Chicago Public Schools he led the Seal of Biliteracy initiative recognizing the biliteracy skills of students in 5th and 8th grade level as well as graduating high school seniors, while promoting college awareness to bilingual, immigrant, and Latinx students across the city. He has a BA in Latin American & Caribbean Studies and Spanish from the University of Illinois and an MA in Educational Leadership through the ENLACE Leadership Institute at Northeastern Illinois University. He lives in Chicago's west side with his wife, Claudia, a CPS teacher, and their two lovely boys. He is completing his doctorate degree at National Louis University in Educational Leadership. Mr. Narváez is a member of Multilingual Chicago.