Carlos Jaramillo

CARLOS JARAMILLO, renaissance man, educator, cultural ambassador.
Despite his youthful looks and humble confidence, Carlos Jaramillo is a man of deep convictions. As the Deputy Chief of Staff of the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO), a community group established in 1984, Jaramillo galvanizes the Hispanic community through classic grassroots organizing strategies. Having joined UNO in 2006, Jaramillo has become one of the organization’s rising stars. His short tenure has been marked by a genuine desire to help his community reach new heights while helping maintain—and nurture—its rich, cultural traditions.

Jaramillo, 30, has enjoyed a dynamic career where education, heritage, family values and authenticity are equally important.  Prior to joining UNO, he taught History at Our Lady of Tepeyac High School, in the heart of Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood, where he grew up. “My dad gave me two options when I was growing up. He said, ‘Either you go to college, or you go to college.’ There was no other way. He wanted me to get a degree. Those are the same principles that I want to instill in my children.”

At UNO’s Metropolitan Leadership Institute (MLI), Jaramillo is living proof of the program’s philosophy. Launched in 2001, the MLI’s mission is to instill civic leadership within Hispanics and moreover, make it an integral part of the overall community’s system of values.  Jaramillo builds relationships with the graduates of the MLI so that, eventually, they can serve as role models for future leaders. “These professionals are making an impact in our communities. Our students need them as role models.” Jaramillo says that close to 300 professionals have successfully completed the program.

Jaramillo was born into a deeply rooted Mexican culture that has embraced him as an ambassador of sorts. In 2007 he created the increasingly popular “Race of the Dead” — a 5k race held in the Pilsen neighborhood and named after the Mexican holiday, “Dia de Los Muertos,” a mythical and colorful celebration honoring those who have passed away. Entering its sixth year, Jaramillo orchestrates an event that features Mexican folkloric music, authentic cuisine, and traditional costumes. Jaramillo is, in fact, an ambassador of culture.

“There is so much room to grow in our community. We need more Latinos to have a seat at the table. Our parents and grandparents didn’t come to this country for a handout. They came here to succeed. It’s our duty to make sure we fulfill their dreams of success and pave the way for generations that follow.”

While education is the driving force behind Jaramillo’s mission at UNO, these days his efforts also include forging new partnerships with the city’s professional sports teams, and thanks to the organization’s $100,000 grant from the U.S. Soccer Foundation for the construction of a new soccer field, Jaramillo’s ties with the Chicago Fire and various soccer leagues throughout the city are expected to bring new health and recreational opportunities to the members of UNO.