Kim Close is executive director of the Foundation of Little Village (FLV). She founded the organization (formerly the Little Village Community Foundation) in 2018 to expand programmatic capacity for the Xquina Incubator. In her time at FLV, Kim has worked to increase resources and opportunities available to small businesses in Little Village.
Kim employs a holistic approach in her pursuit of economic development as a means to achieve greater equity. This approach combines direct investment in the community through the implementation of educational programs designed to create economic impact in Little Village.
She also manages the Fund for Equitable Business Growth Partnership grant, which provides a network of Spanish-language entrepreneurial resources in collaboration with 1871, Btec, FoodHe.ro, and FourStar Branding. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kim managed the Road to Recovery fund, which distributed $700,000 in micro-grants and technical assistance to small businesses in Little Village.
In her previous role as FLV’s director of programming, Kim oversaw the development and implementation of the Foundation’s signature Juntos professional training, which equips local entrepreneurs with the skills needed to achieve effective, sustainable business growth.
Kim currently serves on two committees tasked with selecting and installing a mural at the Manuel Perez, Jr. Memorial Plaza and a Learning Landscape educational art installation at a local laundromat on Little Village’s 26th Street commercial corridor. She also represents FLV on the Quality of Life Economic Development Committee, and Little Village business owners on the Small Business Advocacy Council. In 2019, she collaborated with the Chicago Central Area Committee to create a corridor revitalization initiative for Little Village. She also serves on the Richard J. Daley Advisory Board.
Prior to her work in Little Village, Kim owned a small business for ten years—an experience that taught her about the challenges and rewards of entrepreneurship. She previously traded foreign currencies and worked in sales.
Kim holds a degree in International Relations with a minor in Spanish from Austin College.
Lisandra is a Bilingual Latina with a lifelong passion for empowering women and minorities through inclusive entrepreneurship. She brings over ten years experience consulting and training business owners delivering a comprehensive spectrum of solutions from capacity building -- scaling businesses, to competing in the marketplace, and advocacy for equity and access for underserved entrepreneurs.
While serving as Director of the Women's Business Center (WBC) in Chicago, Lisandra spearheaded the Leadership Entrepreneurial Accelerated Development program (LEAD) and the Early Childhood Education Entrepreneurial Program developing bilingual curriculum, leading training, and facilitation of multi-week cohorts targeting start-up & established business owners.
As a result of her passion for social impact, Lisandra’s mission is driving diversity and inclusion as an advocate for black and brown founders.
Cristy Calderon is an accomplished management and communications professional with extensive experience in education, business, and nonprofits.
As an educator, Ms. Calderon demonstrated her ability to problem solve, create teams, and interact within a multi-cultural environment where she created and delivered lessons to individuals interested in cultivating a deep understanding of other languages and cultures. In addition, she worked with private students as well as group classes while participating in their performance evaluation plan integrating learning technology with teaching programs.
Ms. Calderon currently works at the Foundation of Little Village as a highly valued member of the Foundation’s team. She is responsible for supporting all relationship building, grant management, and program initiatives. Her ability to analyze complex technical issues, attention to detail, and overall organizational skills has brought valued contributions as the Foundation of Little Village grows to meet the economic needs of the Little Village community.
Ms. Calderon has a Bachelors of Arts in English and Communication from East-West University of Chicago, IL and an Associate of Arts Degree in Communication from Harold Washington College. She was born and raised in Little Village where she currently resides.
Born and raised in the Little Village community, her passion for empowering others began in elementary when organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of Chicago and After School Matters provided her the necessary resources to become the first in her family to graduate college. Completely humbled and appreciative of the support she received from her community, in 2016 Roxana earned her degree in Communications from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and began her career in the community relations & marketing fields. Now with more than 5 years of experience, Roxana continues to work with organizations that fundamentally change the lives of individuals throughout Cook County and beyond. In her spare time, Roxana serves as a youth mentor and enjoys spending time with animals, especially with her dog Rosy.
Joining the team in early 2022, Melanie Rockoff is the Foundation of Little Village's grant manager.
Previously, she served as senior program advisor at Chicago-based international education nonprofit IES Abroad, overseeing organizational centers in Buenos Aires, Argentina; Granada, Spain; and Santiago, Chile.
She has also worked as a translator for Madrid-based studio Sublime Subtitling & Translation, with a focus in the translation of Spanish-language television and film.
Prior to this role, she spent four years teaching English at public high schools in northern and southern Spain. During this time, she also translated Spanish-language didactic materials for classrooms across Europe, in collaboration with a Zaragoza-based educational consortium.
Early in her career, she worked at nonprofits in Córdoba, Argentina (Asociación Civil: Aprendiendo a Volar) and Santiago, Chile (Servicio Jesuita a Migrantes de Chile)—foundational roles that have served as a professional north star of sorts, fomenting a commitment to and passion for social justice and the third sector.
She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Spanish from Grinnell College, and a Master of Arts degree in Latin American Studies and Management from the Universidad de Granada.
In her free time, Melanie can be found reading, embroidering, and hoping she remembered to turn off the stove.