Yo Soy Ella Inc. couldn’t have been possible without the diverse, passionate, beautiful and spiritually motivated group of women to assist with the vision of YSE. Each woman contributes their proficiency, educational tiers, and their belief-system which encompasses the essence of Yo Soy Ella Inc.

Meet Our Beautiful Familia

Melinda Evelyn, I.M.C, M.A, Advisor

Evelyn's expertise includes marketing and communications, project management, social service advocacy and facilitator in both for profit and non-profit industries. She is also a sought- after speaker and master of ceremonies addressing issues ranging from cultural competency (Afro-Latinos) and communications styles. She is certified in the I Can Problem Solve curriculum,  certified Medical and Legal Interpreter and has completed the 40-hr Domestic Violence certification. In 2002-2003 Evelyn was instrumental as the Sr. Financial Specialist and Certified Consumer Credit Counselor, in the First Account Family Economic Development pilot project sponsored by the U.S Department of Treasury. Melinda is a graduate of Roosevelt University with a Masters Integrated Marketing and Communications (IMC) and Masters in Spanish Peninsular Literature. Melinda has a passion to serve others and impart knowledge for the betterment of their lives through education, & empowerment. Cultural background: Panamanian

Chris Davila, Interim President

Chris is a Field Marketing Manager at Red Bull North America covering Southern IL and the Latino market in the Midwest. In the past she worked with Chicago Public Media; which houses WBEZ 91.5 FM & Vocalo 89.5 FM and 90.7 FM. Her expertise include marketing communication, social media operations and fundraising management. She attained her Bachelors in Communications with a concentration in public relations, marketing & advertising at DePaul University. Cultural background: Guatemalan

Vilma White, Chairman

Vilma is the Administrative Assistant at Saint Joseph Hospital. Here she assists the Chairperson, Vice Chair Person, management and medical staff in the Pathology Dept. with their daily meetings, reporting, and daily agendas and demands. Vilma is also the President of Lazos Panamenos. Here she leads the organization with partaking in activities that involve the Panamanian community in Chicago. Vilma attained her Bachelors in Executive Secretary in Panama. Cultural background: Panamanian

As a masters graduate of the Jane Adams School of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Sarah decided to apply her wealth of public service experience gained while also working in the field of not-for-profit leadership. In 2012, she launched her first non-profit venture named, Yo Soy Ella, Inc., which translates to "I Am She."  The organization’s name and message simply sets the tone that “we are whoever we wish to be, wherever our dreams takes us; we let our dreams become us." YSE serves as a support system to empower and mentor Latina women using a psycho-social, cultural and spiritual strength-based approach. As a daughter of immigrants, in which her family hails from the beautiful country of Panama, and a first generation American, witnessing the desire of a sustainable and enriched life expressed through her parent’s sacrifices, Sarah inherited a passion for improving the quality of other people's lives. This desire is demonstrated by her long-time commitment to public service and expertise within diverse capacities in the social work arena. With over ten years of involvement within social services, Sarah gained access through an incredible opportunity to continue this pace of servitude. She is currently contracted via the Office of Refugee and  Resettlement/Administration for Children/Family Services/U.S Department of Human/Health Services, as a case coordinator. The details around this career path requires direct services for unaccompanied and undocumented minors who migrate to the U.S. 


Over all, Sarah’s invaluable experience has stretched her far more than her given potential.  She’s worked at various positions for the State of Illinois such as a Child Protection Investigator, Therapist for adopted minors from Illinois’ Child Welfare System, and in her early budding years of service she worked for the Department of Human Services providing public assistance and crisis intervention for the Latino community. Sarah currently serves as a certified domestic violence awareness interventionist as crisis hotline volunteer for Mujeres Latina En Accion, Chicago.


She also received certification in Clinical Social Work for Latinos from the University of Chicago, Social Service Administration. Sarah is proud a member of Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority, Inc.(SLG), Enchanting Eta chapter, in which she along with her chapter-sisters, spearheaded and founded the first Northern Illinois University Latino Graduation Ceremony. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Jamil and their English bull-dog, Bentley.  Cultural background: Panamanian



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Amanda B. Cruz, Treasurer

As a DePaul University graduate in Business Operations, Amanda has multiple experiences in areas of finance. In recent years she has worked for both State Farm Insurance and New York Life Insurance. In the insurance field, Amanda provided her clients with their financial planning and conducting financial reviews.. During her financial consultant years she has worked first hand with the Latino community making sure they are getting the best benefits and rates possible. Amanda is licensed in the following: property, casualty, life and health insurance in the state of Illinois, and she has also obtained her brokerage licensed.  Cultural Background: Mexican

Vanessa Gamino, M.A,  Secretary

As a therapist at Thresholds, Vanessa provides recovery-focused individual and group therapy, and crisis intervention to young adults. Vanessa has experience providing therapy and interventions to youth who are in traditional foster care through DCFS, as well as homeless and at risk youth from disadvantaged backgrounds. Vanessa received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Family Studies and a Master's degree in Community Counseling. Cultural background: Mexican

Hagar Duel, M.B.A, Chairman

Hagar is a Talent Acquisition professional at Comcast NBC/Universal. Her skill sets lie in business communication and strategic workforce planning. She prides herself  in establishing  business partners and management teams.She attained her Masters of Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resources. Hagar is also a member of Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority, Inc. Enchanting Eta Chapter, NIU.  

Cultural background: Panamanian

Karla Voeun, M.S, CCC-SLP-L, Chairman

Karla is the Director of Rehab services at Center Home for Hispanic Elderly
She specializes in geriatrics and young adults with parents with disabilities. Karla attained her Masters of Science Communication Disorders (SLP-CCC).

Karla is also a member of Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority, Inc. Enchanting Eta Chapter, NIU.  Cultural background : Polish-American

Maria Seda, M.S.W candidate 19', Intern

Maria is the coordinator, PRSC at Wilson Care Latino Inc. Maria helps facilitate self-esteem groups and life skills with the mentally ill clients. She specializes in mental illness and life skills to assist her residents and other clients to successfully transition into society and self sufficiency. Maria attained her Bachelor of Science in Psychology.​ Maria is also a member of Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority, Inc. Enchanting Eta Chapter, NIU. Cultural background: Puerto Rican​

Estela Alejandre, M.S.W

Estela is an individual case manager with Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and she is also a family therapist with clients who have been involved with DCFS. With the Department of Veteran Affairs, Estela Specializes in community outreach and individual and family therapy. Estela attained her Masters in Social Work, concentration in Mental Health.​ Cultural background: Mexican

Lisette Aguirre M.Ed, LPC

Lisette is currently a high school counselor with Chicago Public Schools. Lisette has previously worked at Youth Outreach Services specializing in individual, group and family counseling. Lisette recieved her Master of Science in Education from Northern Illinois University. Lisette is also a member of Sigma Lambda Gamma Sorority, Inc. Enchanting Eta Chapter, NIU.  Cultural background:Mexican