- 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 28
- Oak Park Public Library Veterans Room, 834 Lake St.
- As part of Oak Park's Hispanic Heritage Month celebration, a community roundtable discussion centered around the theme of prosperity, progress and power will be held in the Oak Park Public Library’s Veterans Room. Complimentary refreshments will be served. The panelists for the discussion are Juan Muñoz and Nora Sanchez. Find more information about the panelists below:
Erika Bachner dedicates her time and energy to social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in her local community. As a resident of River Forest and the Village’s first Latina Village Trustee, she has helped to advocate and pass legislation making River Forest a “Welcoming Village” in 2017, worked with Maywood to set a “Twin Village Covenant” – setting a platform for deeper partnerships between the two villages and townships in 2020-21, and developed and chaired the 46-member DEI Advisory Group to the River Forest Village Board, which was named Villager of the Year in 2022. In the past three years, she has stood up for LGBTQIA+ visibility and rights, with passage of ordinances for a Pride Flag raising, and coordinating with the School District 90 for inclusion and pride celebrations at the Town Hall. Whether it’s expanding the definition of what it means to be Latinx/Latine in America today, facilitating discussions on race, colorism and anti-blackness with POC groups or working for the residents of River Forest, she understands the importance and gift of being able to amplify change-making, intersectional ideas and voices that others try to marginalize.
Esther Lopez has 15 years in the field as a passionate, patient-centered dentist and public healthcare and health equity advocate dedicated to prioritizing people’s overall health and wellbeing. She divides her time between running her Oak Park, Illinois-based practice, Healthy Tooth Dental, serving as an adjunct professor at University of Illinois Chicago’s College of Dentistry, and volunteering as a dentist and co-chair of the Dental Advisory Committee at RefugeeOne, a Chicago-based non-profit agency that helps refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants resettle into the U.S. Whether serving patients in her private practice or a non-profit clinic, Dr. Lopez is known for evidence-based, prevention-focused, and highly personalized dentistry, making her much beloved in the community. She joins her patients as a collaborative partner, fully committed to improving their overall health by providing a safe space that allows them to receive holistic and compassionate care over their entire lifetime. Dr. Lopez is a member of the American Dental Association, Chicago Dental Society, Illinois State Dental Society and the Hispanic Dental Association. In addition to working directly with patients, Dr. Lopez vigorously pushes for policy reform to make dental care more accessible to those who need it most. Her research has been published in the Journal of Public Health Dentistry and presented at national and international conferences.
Juan Muñoz is a 1.5 generation Mexican-American and has been a resident of Oak Park since 2017, where he lives with his wife (Monica), two children (2yr and 3mo), and mother (Maria). He is currently VP of Business Development at Kribi Coffee. He also serves on the Board of Directors, as the Vice President, of Great Kids Inc., a non-profit partnering with early childhood development programs. He holds a B.A. in International Relations and Spanish from Minnesota State University and brings over a decade of strategic business experience to his professional roles.
Nora Sanchez, the Latine Language & Culture Librarian at Oak Park Public Library, is passionate about bridging cultural gaps and language barriers. In her role, she curates resources and services that cater to patrons' language learning and cultural enrichment needs for and about the Latine community. Originally from the vibrant arts community of Pilsen, she draws inspiration from her upbringing. Beyond her work, she cherishes time spent with family, walks with her puppy, trips to museums, and of course, reading!
Isabela Flores is a junior at Dominican University double majoring in mathematics and Spanish. She is a proactive and studious student who always looks on the bright side of any situation. Beyond her studies, some of Isabela's hobbies are playing the violin with the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest, walking, and spending quality time with her mom and grandparents.
Armando Gonzalez is a chef and the owner of Oak Park restaurant Amerikas.