Pastor Ron Taylor
Ron is one of the Founding members of UCCRO and served as an Executive Council Board member for 9 years before accepting the Director’s position. He has played a significant role working as a member of the UCCRO Advocacy Team and the legislative victories they’ve had in the last 5 years. He brings over 16 years of experience in community organizing and non-profit work, serving in different capacities of leadership over those years including as: Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors at Target Area Development Corporation for about 8 years; Director of Coalitions and Organizing at Target Area for 4 years and Director of Reentry programs for 3 years. Ron is the founder and currently serves as the Senior Pastor of Disciples for Christ Church for the last 18 years, which is a multiracial church based in Oak Lawn IL. He is nearly complete, working toward his BA in Business at Capella University with a focus on Management and Leadership and has made the Dean’s List each year since starting in the fall of 2011, currently holding a 3.7 GPA. He’s been married to his wife, Johnnie for 38 years and has a 21-year-old daughter, Rebecca, and 18-month old granddaughter, Harmony.
Alhelí M. Irizarry
Alhelí joined UCCRO as staff in 2015, but has been engaged with the organization since she was at Enlace Chicago, dating back to 2009. Alhelí comes to UCCRO with 12 years of working experience in the non-profit world. She started out as a youth leader with SWOP (Southwest Organizing Project) working on issues affecting undocumented immigrant youth such as in-state tuition at state universities and the DREAM Act. She received organizing training and experience with ICIRR (Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights). Alhelí is also a citizenship instructor and adult educator, has program management and implementation skills, grant writing experience, budget and financial management, and curriculum development experience. Mrs. Irizarry holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Fine Arts and majored in Latin American and Latino Studies. She was a public figure for DREAMERs (undocumented youth who were brought to the U.S. as small children). Her passions are working on immigrant rights issues, education issues, race relations and women’s rights. She resides in Berwyn with her husband, Michael and their children Adan and Ivette.
Mecole Jordan graduated from Western Illinois University with a BA in Organizational Communication and Masters of Science degree in Human Resource Management at Capella University. She began her non-profit career volunteering for Target Area Development in 2006-2012 starting with the SMART Act campaign to reduce the criminalization of individuals with drug addiction. She also provided direct oversight for Community Support Advisory Council (CSAC), an IDOC reentry program providing comprehensive wraparound support for the formerly incarcerated and violence prevention programs such as Ceasefire Auburn Gresham. Mecole assisted with grant writing, website design and development, building organizational structure, developing and executing the new hire orientation and training for Target Area’s Safe Passage program. Finally, she conducted trainings and executive administrative support for the Statewide Action and Grassroots Education Initiative (SAGE), building relationships and engaging community organizations and parents in Chicago, Oak Lawn, Rockford, Decatur, Springfield, and Bloomington Illinois. Mecole began working UCCRO’s work in 2010 as a member the advocacy team and trainer for our Racial Equity Curriculum. She aided in the development and execution of UCCRO conventions and annual retreats. In 2013, Mecole worked part-time with UCCRO as the coordinator of the Equal Voice Membership Campaign. In 2015, Mecole organized nearly 800 Illinois Early Intervention providers and parents around the State budget, bringing attention vulnerable infants and toddlers losing needed therapies during the budget impasse. Mecole currently lives in the south suburbs with her 3-year-old daughter, Micaela Grace.
Rev. Robin Hood
Reverend Robin Hood is the pastor of Redeemed Outreach Ministries in Chicago’s North Lawndale community. Rev. Hood’s work can be seen in many communities around the city of Chicago, in organizing and successfully bringing anti-violence innovation, housing and education solutions and jobs. Rev. Hood has been featured in many media outlets for his work, and in several documentaries: Last Chance High, (Vice News) The Fight For Chicago (Al-Jazeera, America Now) Voices Against Violence, (NBC Dateline) which have won the prestigious 2015 Peabody and 2015 Chism Awards. Rev. Hood is the founder of Illinois Anti-Foreclosure Coalition, that helped stopped reverse mortgage fraud and won 2.7 million in restitution for seniors and family members. Rev. Hood has trained and instructed on community organizing, activism, and grassroots campaigns in many colleges and universities across the country. Reverend Hood has successfully organized communities, churches and politicians on issues such as: living wages, hospital accountability, and health care for the past 20 years. He was a founding member of Mother’s Opposed To Violence Everywhere, North Lawndale Boxing League and Brothers and Sisters of the formerly incarcerated. Reverend Hood lead the effort in forcing the first city hearing on police shootings and homicides, and was a strong voice in the fight for higher wages for Big Box store workers. UCCRO is very excited to welcome him to our staff!
Sarah is the Policy Associate for United Congress. Prior to working for UCCRO, she worked as the Violence Prevention Coordinator at Enlace Chicago, located in Little Village. As the Violence Prevention Coordinator, Sarah convened the Violence Prevention Collaborative, which consisted of various stakeholders, including representatives from community-based organizations, local churches, the Chicago Police Department, and Chicago Public Schools. Together, the collaborative addressed issues of gang violence within the community by organizing rallies, hosting community peace circles, and participating in education campaigns aimed at raising awareness of the resources available to community residents. Sarah has an intimate knowledge of the workings of the criminal justice system, as she has worked as a public defender for the Office of the Cook County Public Defender. While there, she represented parents whose children were taken away due to allegations of child abuse and neglect. She has also worked at the California Innocence Project, where she investigated claims of innocence submitted by incarcerated individuals within California. Sarah received her J.D. from California Western School of Law and her undergraduate degree from Loyola University Chicago.