Long-time Mujeres Latinas en Accion staff member, friend and compañera Alicia Amador died of cancer Oct. 7 from cancer. She was 56.
Amador served as a mentor, organizer and leader to youth in the Pilsen community over the course of her three-decade career at Mujeres Latinas en Accion. She was a founding member of Amigas Latinas, Chicago's Latina lesbian organization.
A life-long Pilsen resident, Amador held many roles at Mujeres including those of counselor, advocate, interim director, and most recently youth services coordinator. Among her many accomplishments, Amador led a successful campaign against tobacco companies who marketed their products to youth, was involved in liquor license reform in Pilsen and Little Village, oversaw organizing efforts to educate youth on reproductive health and justice issues and managed Mujeres during a period of difficult transition.
"She was the spirit of our organization and the embodiment of our mission," said Maria S. Pesqueira, president and CEO of Mujeres Latinas en Accion. "There was not a phase of our development as an organization in which Alicia was not involved or an active contributor. We are deeply saddened by her loss."
Amador had a contagious laugh and sense of humor. She was well known at Mujeres as the resident storyteller and historian who would serve as a constant reminder to maintain focus on the neighborhood needs and mentor the next generation of leaders in the organization. She took new staff on ride-alongs of the neighborhood in her car, pointing out neighborhood drug spots and gang areas.
But perhaps her greatest legacy was the impact she had on children and families in the Pilsen community.
"She was a teacher," said Miguel Grajales, who worked closely with Alicia in the Peace Program working with children aged 6-12. "She respected children and reminded us to respect children always. She cared about us."
She held leadership positions in YouthNet, the Harrison Park Advisory Council, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Advisory Board and the Latina Dropout Prevention Project.
"Alicia touched our lives in so many ways," said Neusa Gaytan, program director at Mujeres "She taught us the value of friendship and respect. Alicia will be deeply missed."
Amador is survived by her partner of 15 years, Norma Seledon ( a former executive director of Lesbian Community Cancer Project ) ; her daughter Dolores; three grandchildren, Angel, Daniel and Jessica; three brothers, Rudy, Celestino and Anthony; and two sisters Marie and Shirley; and countless extended family members. She is preceded in death by her sister Maria "Maruca" Martinez, Mujeres' first staff member.
Visitation will be Monday, Oct. 11 from 2-8 p.m. at Funeraria del Angel, 5218 S. Kedzie. A public viewing is planned at St. Procopius Church, located at 1641 S. Allport on Tuesday, Oct. 12 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. followed by the funeral mass at noon.
Amador was interviewed both alone and with her partner Norma Seledon for the Chicago Gay History Project in 2007. Her video is at http://www.chicagogayhistory.com/biography.html?id=688.