Building capacity in the suburbs:  Understanding and meeting the needs of immigrants and refugees in the greater Chicago Region.

With over 100 guests in attendance, our 2nd annual Summit (2019) was a success!  The even was graciously kicked off by  Dr. Joianne Smith, President of Oakton Community College and a few words from David Roth, Executive Director of DuPage Federation on Human Services Reform.

Ngoan Le, Chief, Bureau of Refugee & Immigrant Services at Illinois Department of Human Services gave opening remarks and Fred Tsao, Senior Policy Counsel at ICIRR provided a legislative update. Our keynote speaker was Sylvia Puente, Executive Director at Latino Policy Forum.

The panel discussion showcased effective and innovative strategies and partnerships with a focus on healthcare, workforce development and immigration policy.

During group discussions, participants engaged in thought provoking discussions resulting from the following prompts:

  • How have the needs of immigrants in the suburbs changed in the last five years? How has this impacted your ability to respond to those needs?


  • What is the capacity of your organization to respond to policy changes impacting immigrants?


  • As a group, provide three recommendations on how to respond to unmet/emerging needs of immigrants in the suburbs?

For additional resources, including a copy of the keynote presentation and a participant list, please visit our resources page.


Ngoan Le, Chief
Bureau of Refugee & Immigrant Services

Illinois Department of Human Services

Ngoan Le is currently the Illinois Refugee State Coordinator and Chief of the Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Services at the Illinois Department of Human Services.  Prior to this position, Ngoan held the following positions: Vice President of Programs at the Chicago Community Trust; Special Assistant to Mayor

Daley on Homelessness; Chief Program Officer for the Chicago Department of Human Services; Assistant to the Secretary for Special Projects  at the Illinois Department of Human Services; Deputy Administrator - Division of Planning and Community Services at the Illinois Department of Public Aid; Special Assistant to Governor James R. Thompson for Asian American Affairs.


Ngoan Le came to the U.S. as a refugee from Vietnam in 1975. 


Fred provides technical support, trainings, and presentations on immigration-related topics to service providers, immigrant community organizations, and others who work with immigrants. He also provides updates and analysis of changes in immigration policies and procedures to ICIRR members and allies, and assists with the coalition's legislative advocacy efforts. A self-described “recovering attorney,” Fred practiced law at the Rockford office of Prairie State Legal Services, where he worked after receiving his law degree

from the University of Michigan. He has also worked with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, the Chicago Anti-Hunger Federation, and the Missouri Public Interest Research Group. A native of Chicago, Fred is the son of immigrants from China, and has had a lifelong concern with immigration issues.


Sylvia Puente, Executive Director

Latino Policy Forum

Sylvia Puente is the Executive Director of the Latino Policy Forum, the only Latino public policy and advocacy organization in Illinois. Puente’s 35-year career serving her career serving her community spans a wide range of experiences: From 2001-08 she served as director of the Center for Metropolitan Chicago Initiatives for the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies. Her work also included the publication of the first ever publications on Latino growth in the Chicago suburbs, "Bordering the Mainstream: A Needs

Assessment of Latinos in Berwyn and Cicero, Illinois," and "Forging the Tools for Unity: A report on Metro Chicago’s Mayors Roundtables on Latino Integration."

Puente has earned a national reputation as a bridge builder and a trailblazer, having been recognized by Hispanic Business Magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential Hispanics in the U.S.” Among her many accolades throughout her career, Sylvia is a fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago, and a recipient of a fellowship from the Chicago Community Trust. She is most proud of leadership awards from the University of Illinois, where she is the only Latina whose portrait hangs in the student union among other notable alums; the University of Chicago, which named her Outstanding Leader of Color; the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and the Illinois Latino Legislative Caucus Foundation; the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s (MALDEF) Community Service Award; the National Museum of Mexican Art’s Sor Juana Women of Achievement Award for Community Service and last but not least, the National Football League’s Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award presented by the Chicago Bears. Lastly, she was one of 25 Chicago area women named a “Pioneer for Social Justice.” 


Suzanne Hoban is the founder and Executive Director of the Family Health Partnership Clinic in Crystal Lake – the first free and charitable clinic in McHenry County.  The Clinic has been recognized as a 4 Star charity for 5 years in a row by Charity Navigator, based on its financial health, transparency and accountability. 


Suzanne is the President of the Illinois Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.

She is on the board of Leadership Greater McHenry County, a Board Member Emeritus for the Community Foundation of McHenry County, and serves on the McHenry County Senior Services Grant Commission. 


Suzanne has experience in refugee resettlement and has worked in refugee camps in Southeast Asia and Central America.

Nicole joined the DePaul Asylum and Immigration Law Clinic as a staff attorney in May 2017. Through her work at the Clinic’s Legal Resources Project, Nicole provides technical legal assistance, training and programmatic guidance for community-based organizations. She has expanded DePaul’s services to organizations outside of the City of Chicago, such as Round Lake Park, Des Plaines, Joliet, Champaign and

Moline, where there is a dearth of services available to immigrant communities.

Previously, Nicole worked as a publications manager at the National Law Review, where she facilitated the publication of hundreds of legal articles each month and providing training for legal marketers and attorneys on content marketing, search engine optimization and data analytics. During that time, she continued to advocate for immigrants through pro bono work with World Relief DuPage/Aurora and Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. Nicole received a distinguished service award for her commitment to pro bono work from CVLS in 2013.

Rebecca Tancredi is the National Vice President of Programs for Upwardly Global (UpGlo).  UpGlo’s mission is to eliminate employment barriers for skilled immigrants and refugees and help them integrate into the U.S. professional workplace.  According to the Migration Policy Institute, there are over 1.9 Million skilled immigrants who are unemployed or underemployed in the U.S.  This is a significant waste of talent  

and a barrier to fully integrating new Americans into their community.  UpGlo’s programs champion human potential through innovative skill-building, coaching, and networking to help newcomers and U.S. employers succeed together.


Rebecca joined UpGlo in 2009 to open their Chicago office.  In her current role she is nationalizing and growing programs across the country.  Prior to Upwardly Global, Rebecca worked in corporate Human Resources and was responsible for HR strategy, staffing and innovative talent development programs.  She has a bachelor’s degree in Human Resource Management from Ohio State University.

The Federation's mission is to generate cross-sector solutions that leverage expertise to address the human service needs of the DuPage region.

DuPage Federation on Human Service Reform

1910 S. Highland Ave., Suite 135, Lombard, IL 60148