Member Spotlight with Amelia Garza

Amelia Garza
YNPN Chicago Member, Amelia Garza

How did you first become interested in a nonprofit career? 

Growing up, nonprofits have always been a strong aspect of my family’s life so I believe that my interest is directly linked to my family’s involvement with nonprofits.

Creating groups such as the Hispanic Latino Resource group, my father was a strong role model and advocate for collaboration and transformation. In addition, my uncle is another prominent example I have always looked to as an influential component to my interest in nonprofits. Over the years, he has been involved with the national Board of Directors of the American Camp Association, Journey Consulting, and Holiday Home Camp and discusses his work in the nonprofit sector as “Selfish Selflessness” which he presented through a TedTalk.

For me, nonprofits are not just an interest, they are a way of life.

Who is your professional mentor and why?

Emily Summers, Assistant Director of Regional Major Gifts at the University of Chicago is my professional mentor. Since I first started working at the University, she has taken me under her wing and allowed me to learn beside her. I have deeply appreciated the many opportunities she sends my way to grow in my professional development.

Although not one individual, I would say that the DA Pool, a pool that was started to smooth out business interruptions on teams where there are vacancies or ad hoc projects at the University of Chicago, has also had a significant role in my life as mentors. As a team, I have learned and grown exponentially with their guidance in a multitude of ways.

In your opinion, what is the most pressing issue facing the nonprofit and social impact sector in Chicago? 

I believe the loss of funding to nonprofits in the area is a huge and pressing risk to many organizations.

Whether it is the loss of support from state or local funding, nonprofits are needing to formulate innovative ideas and seek out new opportunities to gain financial support. With already limited resources and personnel to obtain new philanthropic sponsors, lack of funding becomes a significant threat.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?

I love attending as many events around the city as I can. From heading to the Art Institute to browsing through neighborhood markets, I deeply enjoy exploring Chicago.

If you could travel to one place in the world, where would you choose? 

It is hard to choose one place in particular, but I can narrow it to two.

My exploratory choice: Mexico City. I have been once and loved the rich history and many cultural ties the city encompasses.

A comforting choice: Burton, Texas. This city is home to Camp For All which is a camp for children and adults with special needs and challenging diseases. As a truly barrier free facility, I have witnessed the inclusionary and loving atmosphere that Camp For All provides to the people there.


Member Spotlight is a recurring series that recognizes YNPN Chicago’s dedicated and accomplished membership. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured, please email using the subject line Member Spotlight.