Kevin Barszcz President
Kevin grew up on the North-west side of Chicago. After High School, he joined the US Navy and was attached to CVN-77, Engineering Department, with the ''Mighty E-Division.'' In 2011 he deployed to the Persian Gulf with Carrier Strike Group Two in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom with the Navy’s 5th and 6th Fleets. Kevin returned home in 2012 where attended college at DePaul University. While a student, he connected with other student veterans and helped launch Chicago Veterans. Kevin holds a BA in Communications and Advertising from DePaul University and is currently a Marketing Director. Kevin is a Board Member and the President of Chicago Veterans.
Karen Hernandez Executive Director
Karen Hernandez enlisted into the U.S. Army in 2008. Karen currently serves as a Captain as the Medical Operations Officer for the 108th MMB. Karen graduated from Lewis University with a Bachelors of Arts in Political Science/Criminal Social Justice. Karen is the mother of an intelligent, highly energetic four-year old who challenges her to continue excelling in her career fields every day. Karen currently serves as a Board Member and the Executive Director for Chicago Veterans.
Jac Charlier Chairman of the Board
Jac Charlier is a Chicago native and United States Army Veteran. He currently serves as the National Director for Justice Initiatives and leads the Center for Health and Justice (CHJ) at TASC. He is a co-founder of the Police, Treatment and Community (PTAC) Collaborative. Jac holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from The Ohio State University. Jac is a father of three (mostly) great kids. He is a recipient of the Outstanding Eagle Scout Medal, and played rugby for far too long. Jac is a Board Member as well as our Advisory Board Chairman.
Noel Rivera Community Engagement Director
Noel served in the U.S. Navy from 1990 – 1996 (Active) and from 2000-2009 (Reserve). He previously held a leadership position at the Ted Stempien VFW Post and is still very involved in their work. Noel is currently a Board Member of Chicago Veterans and assists in helping build a stronger connection between veterans and their community.
Karina Lopez Membership Director
Karina Lopez was born and raised on the Southwest side of Chicago, IL. She is a U.S. Army Reserves Veteran from 2007 to 2016, with all nine years as a Human Resources Specialist. Having deployed twice to Afghanistan and traveled all throughout the United States to various military bases, she has a wide range of experience and fun stories to tell. Karina holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business Management from Driehaus College of Business at DePaul University and currently works as an HR Associate downtown. Karina is a Board Member and our Membership Director.
Rolando Zavala Recreational and Social Therapy
Rolando grew up on the South-east side of Chicago. After High School, he enlisted in the U.S. Army deploying to the Diyala province and Mosul in support of OIF (07-09). After his redeployment he was then assigned to the “Fighting 101” and was part of Alpha Battery 1/320th Field Artillery Regiment, 2 BCT, 101st ABN DIV (AASLT). He deployed with the 101st in support of OEF (10-11) to the Arghandab River Valley in Kandahar where he earned a Bronze Star Medal with “V” device for valor, and a Purple Heart for wounds sustained in theater. He was medically retired in 2013. Rolando went on to earn his Bachelors of Social work in 2017 at Northeastern Illinois University with an emphasis on Veteran Recreational and Exposure Therapy.
Stephen Hellauer Web Developer
Stephen joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2006, with two deployments with 1st Battalion, 9th Marines. After separating, Stephen enrolled in college and graduated with a degree in Web Development. He is now a web developer working for a company in St. Charles, IL. Stephen helps with website maintenance and updates.
Jose Campos Trustee
Jose served in the U.S. Marine Corps and is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan. He is a huge supporter of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and is currently an officer at the American Legion Dorman Dunn post on Chicago’s south side. Jose works on veteran outreach for Chicago Veterans and is a former board member.
Mike Palaguachi Trustee
Mike served in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Field Radio Operator until 2012, with a combat tour in Afghanistan. After separating, he moved back to Chicago and graduated from DePaul with a Degree in Finance. Mike currently works as a Business Analyst for the Latin American Chamber of Commerce. Mike assists Chicago Veterans with the Financial Reporting for the organization.
Jose Carlos Vega Trustee
Jose Carlos Vega joined the U.S. Army in 2003 after experiencing the events of 9/11 first hand while working for a corporate investment firm located in the World Trade Center. He went on to serve three tours in Iraq. He recently graduated from DePaul with a degree in IT. He currently works as an associate at a Chicago based corporate investment firm. Jose Carlos is a former Board Member and continues to serve our veteran community as a Trustee.