City Club of Chicago: Rebuilding Puerto Rico
April 20, 2018
Rebuilding Puerto Rico – Hon. Carmen Yulin Cruz & Hon. Luis Gutierrez, moderated by Zoraida Sambolin
Hon. Carmen Yulin Cruz
Carmen Yulín Cruz Soto was elected Mayor of San Juan in 2012. In November 2016, she was reelected by an even wider margin.
Prior to becoming Mayor, she was an advisor to former Mayor of San Juan, Sila María Calderón, and then went on to advise the Speaker of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, until finding her own path and deciding to run for office.
In 2008 she was elected Representative At-Large for the Puerto Rico House of Representatives. Ms. Cruz enjoyed her time in the House and was poised to return for another term as Representative, having received the most votes for re-election in the Primary of March 2012.
Carmen Yulín is an active advocate for equality, fighting for the LGBTT community, the deaf community, and children with functional diversity as well as those who have struggled with gender-based violence. She is also a champion for the rights of immigrants.
Her vision of public service is one of governing not for the people, but with the people. She believes a better society is built by having strong student organizations, labor unions, and by implementing programs such as Participatory Budgets, wherein the people in each community decide how to best develop sustainable plans for themselves.
In her book El Poder está en la Calle (Power Is In the Street), she writes about the struggles and experiences of the people, and how rewarding it can be to find their own power to change society and to change the country. For Carmen Yulín Cruz, the principles of justice and equality are her ultimate passion and commitment in life.
On September 20, 2017, Hurricane María completely devastated Puerto Rico. Mayor Cruz’s became a strong advocate for getting much needed help and dignified care for the people of Puerto Rico.
As a result of her relentless efforts, numerous non-governmental organizations and private companies supported the recovery efforts for San Juan and the rest of the Island. “This is not about politics, this is about saving lives,” she continues to repeat incessantly.
As a result of her tireless commitment to the people of San Juan and Puerto Rico in this humanitarian crisis, Mayor Cruz has received various recognitions and awards, including the Martin Luther King Centre Humanitarian Leadership Award in 2018, the Antonio Villaraigosa Leadership Award in 2018, and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation Humanitarian Award 2017. She was also nominated by People en Español as one of the 50 most Powerful Women in 2017, and TIME Magazine chose her as candidate for Person of the Year recognition in 2017.
Hon. Luis Gutierrez
Just elected to his thirteenth term, Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez is the senior member of the Illinois delegation in the US House of Representatives. He is an experienced legislator and energetic spokesman on behalf of his constituents in Illinois’ Fourth District, in the heart of Chicago.
He played an instrumental role in advocating for executive action by President Obama to provide deportation relief to certain long-term undocumented immigrants and their families. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that protects some immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation—along with a series of executive actions announced in 2014—are partly the result of Gutiérrez’s consistent and persistent advocacy in Washington. Beyond advocating for these initiatives, the Congressman has worked hard in Chicago and around the country to help immigrants apply for these deportation protections that keep families together.
With regard to Committee assignments, Gutiérrez took a leave of absence from the House Financial Services Committee—where he was the third ranking Democrat—to take a less senior position on the Judiciary Committee. He did this so that he could work directly on two signature issues that have defined his career: gun violence prevention and comprehensive immigration reform. In addition, he has also served on the Veterans Affairs Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence.
Gutiérrez was born and raised in Chicago to parents who had migrated from Puerto Rico in the early 1950s. Both a father and grandfather, Gutiérrez lives in Chicago with his wife, Soraida. Before being elected to Congress in 1992, Gutiérrez previously served as an Alderman in the City of Chicago for the 26th Ward, and has been a teacher, a social worker, and a cab driver, among other diverse experiences.
Zoraida Sambolin, an Emmy winning journalist, is the Weekday Edition co-anchor of NBC 5 News Today. She rejoined the morning team in March of 2013 after spending two years as co-anchor of CNN‘s Early Start.
While at CNN, Sambolin covered numerous breaking news stories including the Colorado Theatre shootings, the Boston bombings and the Cleveland kidnappings, and she field-anchored the Newtown Connecticut school massacre. In April of 2012, Sambolin was diagnosed with breast cancer and chose to return to her hometown of Chicago explaining to her colleagues and viewers at CNN that “tomorrow is not promised.”
Sambolin returned to the familiarity of the station where she began her career. She originally joined WMAQ in the summer of 2002 and began reporting for Telemundo the following year. As the first Chicago on-air broadcaster to work at both English and Spanish language stations simultaneously, she broke new ground for Latinos in the No. 3 market in the country.
She has served as host of Un Buen Doctor, a weekly Spanish language medical series airing on cable stations worldwide and has won numerous awards for work on two parenting programs created for cable distribution.
Sambolin volunteers for numerous organizations and has an special interest in raising awareness about breast cancer in underserved communities. She lives in Chicago with her husband Ken Williams and her 2 children Nicolas and Sofia.