About Us

March 21, 2013


Pilsen Alliance is a social justice organization committed to developing grassroots leadership in Pilsen and neighboring working class, immigrant communities in Chicago’s Lower West Side. We work for quality public education, affordable housing, government accountability and healthy communities.

Our goals include using innovative community education tools and programs, direct action organizing campaigns and advocacy initiatives reflecting the popular education philosophy of building social consciousness for personal and social collective transformation.


Established as an industrial area in the mid-1800s, Pilsen has long been a thriving immigrant community. As the population evolved from Bohemian to Polish to predominately Mexican, the community retained its working-class roots. However, during the past ten years, significant development has occurred in the area, leading many Pilsen residents to fear that the forces of gentrification would soon displace the thriving community they had worked so hard to build.

In 1998, as the University of Illinois-Chicago expanded southward and the City of Chicago created the Pilsen Industrial Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District, local leaders recognized the need to organize. They hosted a Community Congress for Pilsen residents, community-based organizations, and businesses to develop a strategic plan for community preservation. The creation of the Pilsen Alliance was part of that plan and the organization is now responsible for convening an open community congress every two years. The Pilsen Alliance has achieved considerable victories in the communities of Pilsen, Marshall Square, Little Village, North Lawndale and Cicero.

Who We Are

Pilsen Alliance Executive Board (2015-2017)

Magda Ramirez-Castaneda (President) – Retired public employee, co-author Chicanas of 18th St.

Rousemary Sierra (Vice-President) – Retired public employee, former AFSCME Board member.

Rosa Esquivel (Secretary) – Caseworker at Illinois Action for Children, CPS parent

Cristina Rodriguez (Treasurer) – Business owner, CPS parent

Martha Herrera – CPS Teacher

Javier Ruiz – College student

Ana “Jade” Nava – Local Artist, CPS parent


Byron Sigcho, Director, bsigcho@gmail.com

Xochyl Perez, Community Organizer, perezxoch04@gmail.com

Moises Moreno, Community Organizer, moymoreno.25ward@gmail.com

Gladys Friesen, Coordinator-Bookkeeper, gfry52004@yahoo.com

Our Funders


Woods Foundation

Ben & Jerry’s Foundation

Wieboldt Foundation

Chicago Teachers Union Foundation

Landau Foundation

American Heart Association

Addler Institute

SEIU Health Care

Membership ($60 per year)