Governor Pat Quinn today named the members of the Illinois DREAM commission at the 2nd Annual Illinois Immigrant Integration Summit organized by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. As part of his ongoing commitment to making higher education accessible and affordable for all students, the Governor signed the Illinois DREAM Act last fall, which created a privately-funded scholarship program for high school graduates from immigrant families who wish to attend college.
"Encouraging more students in Illinois to pursue higher education is the key towards improving their lives and our economy," Governor Quinn said. "No matter what their background, students who work hard and achieve in the classroom deserve the chance to chase their dreams. Because of this support, more kids will grow up to be Illinois residents who work hard and contribute to society."
The DREAM Fund Commission will help establish privately-funded scholarships for students who have resided with their parents while attending high school in Illinois, earned their high school diploma, attended school in Illinois for at least three years, and have at least one parent who immigrated to the United States. With an estimated 65 percent of immigrant students coming from households earning below 200 percent of the poverty line, the financial barriers to higher education for academically qualified immigrant students are steep. Through the DREAM commission, Illinois leaders will now be able to raise private funds to help these students achieve their full potential.
In addition, the DREAM act allows any person with a Social Security or taxpayer identification number to participate in a state-operated college savings pool. It also requires high school counselors to provide college information to all children of immigrants. Children of immigrants will have unprecedented opportunities to access higher education as a result of the Illinois Dream Act.
The Illinois DREAM Act was one of Governor Quinn's top priorities during the spring legislative session. The Governor recognized that it would ensure that Illinois continues to lead the nation in increasing access to top-quality education, which is critical to retaining our best and brightest students and ensuring our continued success in the competitive global economy.
The DREAM Act passed with bipartisan legislative support and with the strong support of the education community. The commission will provide training to school service personnel and work with admission and financial aid officers and high school counselors across Illinois to help students utilize the wide array of higher education opportunities.
The DREAM Fund commission members appointed today represent the education, immigrant and business communities and are listed below.
Clara Rubinstein is an attorney and formerly served in the City of Chicago's Office of Corporation Counsel and Department of Planning and Development. She holds a juris doctor from the University of Michigan Law School and a B.A. from Brandeis University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.
Clare Muñana is president of Ancora Associates and previously served as vice-president of the Chicago Board of Education. She is a past executive director of the Civic Consulting Alliance and was a recipient of awards from Chicago United Business Leaders of Color and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, where she earned a MBA.
Moises Zavala is the director of organizing at United Food and Commercial Workers Local #881 and holds a master's degree from DePaul University. He serves on the board of the Alianza Leadership Institute and the Illinois Labor History Society and is an advisor to the Institute of Mexicans Abroad.
Nam H. Paik is a partner at the Baker and McKenzie law firm and is chair of the Chicago-Busan Sister City International Committee. He also serves as a director of the Asian American Bar Association of Greater Chicago Law Foundation and the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago and previously sat on the board of directors of the Chicago Committee on Minorities in Large Law Firms. He holds a B.A and a juris doctor from Northwestern University.
Rigoberto Padilla-Perez is a recent graduate of the University of Illinois-Chicago, where he co-founded Students for Immigrant Rights. He has been a volunteer at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, the Immigrant Youth Justice League and Benito Juarez Community Academy.
Ronald Perlman, Ph.D is president of The Center: Resources for Teaching and Learning and has been a longtime education advocate in Illinois. He is a former chair of the Illinois Advisory Council on Bilingual Education and helped shape federal education policy as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Education. He is a recipient of the lifetime achievement award from the Anti-Defamation League and holds a B.A. and M.A from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. in psychology from Northwestern University.
Tanya Cabrera is the associate director of minority student outreach and diversity initiatives at the Illinois Institute of Technology. She is a former college and career coach at Benito Juarez Community Academy and a recipient of the Midwest Hispanic Heritage Foundation Teacher of the Year award. She holds a B.A. in history from Northern Illinois University.