The 40th Anniversary Lecture Series is an annual lecture and educational event series in St. Augustine College featuring nationally and internationally prominent speakers. The lecture series will bring international and national Latino  leaders in higher education, public affairs, international affairs, healthcare, political science and the arts. Open virtually to the public, these lectures are an integral part of the new facet of the educational culture of St. Augustine College.

Upcoming Speakers

Nelson R. Amaro, Ph.D.
Wednesday August 25 at 4:00 pm


Dr. Nelson Amaro is an expert in state modernization, local government/municipal sustainable development, decentralization, civil society, citizen participation, education, transparency-anticorruption issues and evaluation. He has over 30 years of professional experience in development assistance. The UN appointed him in Mozambique and Guatemala, where he also worked on transparency and anticorruption measures in the context of decentralization policies. He has acted as a consultant and Senior Advisor on numerous education, local government and decentralization projects, including USAID-funded Municipal Development Projects in Honduras and Guatemala, and a number of World Bank and United Nations-supported projects, including those in Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, and Rome to name a few. With FAO, precisely, he was Evaluation Officer in the Evaluation Service of WFP.

In 1987-89, he was Viceminister of Urban and Rural Development of Guatemala. In 1992, Dr. Amaro worked in El Salvador as a consultant to the Ministry of Planning on institutional restructuring of the Public Sector and in Honduras and Guatemala on the design of evaluation of the informal education program. He also consulted on democracy programs, strategic objective development, and other programs for USAID/El Salvador on numerous occasions. Dr. Amaro has planned training activities for provincial, district, and municipal officials as well as education projects. He has been involved in civil society strengthening activities in many of his past positions.

Dr. Amaro has a proven track record successfully interacting with high level counterpart officials in many countries of Latin America and has worked recently in a decentralization project financed by the Government of Guatemala and the European Union. Dr. Amaro is a native speaker of Spanish and is fluent in English and Portuguese. He was Adviser and Professor at the Universidad del Istmo and Director of a social indicators and reporting project in Guatemala City. He was Director of the JELARE Project and another one on climate change (2009-11), a collaborative renewable energy effort between Germany and Latvia on one hand and the Universidad Galileo University in Guatemala, together with other universities in Brasil, Bolivia and Chile at present and Adviser to the Vice-Presidency of the same university. At present he is the Director of the Institute of Sustainable Development, IDS by it acronym in Spanish (2014-uptodate) that he founded, together with Doctorate and Master Degrees careers of the subject.

Previous speakers

Miguel Angel Valdivieso, Executive Director
Fundacion Ecuador
Wednesday July 21 at 4:00 pm

Miguel Angel Valdivieso, Econ.

Holds a master’s degree, in Economics (DePaul University), and a master degree in Business Administration (Governors State University); a B.A. in Economics, (Northeastern Illinois University).  His main areas of interest are Human Resource Development, Strategic Planning and Small Business Development. He has worked in these fields at the senior management level, as well as, as a consultant.

Professor Valdivieso has participated and published several studies on economic and educational issues, both in the United States and Ecuador. Most of his professional work has been within the international environment.

Since 1978 has been teaching economics and business courses at Elmhurst College, University of South Carolina, Brookdale Community College and at Universidad Espíritu Santo, (ICP).

He has been associated with Fundación Ecuador since 1994 and at the present time is the foundation’s General Coordinator.  Professor Valdivieso was nominated “Who is who among students in American Universities”, “Outstanding Young Men of America” and in 2007, he received the “Outstanding Citizen Award” given by the Major of Guayaquil.

Lt. Dinapoles Galvan
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
4:00 pm

I came to the US in 2003 at the age of 19. I started attending St. Augustine fall 2003 where I obtained an AA in LAS-interdisciplinary. Subsequently, I attended City Colleges of Chicago where I obtained a LPN in 2010 and an AA in nursing in 2011. I completed a bachelors in nursing at Northern Illinois University 2013 and a Masters in Nursing from Chamberlain College of Nursing in 2016. I will be completing a Doctorate in Nursing Practice and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner degree at University of Missouri Kansas in May 2021.
I am currently the Assistant Nurse Manager for the Behavioral Health Intensive Care Unit at VA Northern California Health Care System and a US Air Force Lieutenant.

My experience includes:
Lieutenant: Navy Nurse Corp.
Interim Dean of Nursing at Instituto del Progreso Latino
Nurse Faculty at Dominican University and City Colleges of Chicago
Clinical Nurse Specialist at Saint Joseph Hospital
Psychiatric Nurse at Hines VA, Garfield Park Hospital and Chicago Children’s Center for Behavioral Health
Medical Assistant Faculty at Sanford Brown College

Chef Geno Bahena
Wednesday, May 26, 2021
4pm (CT)

Chef Generoso “Geno” Bahena

Geno Bahena was born in 1965 in Tepatulco Guerrero, Mexico. His parents were hard working individuals that dedicated themselves to the dairy and beef production industry, with emphasis in the production of local cheese making “queso añejo”. Upon the example of his parents Geno at the young age of 12 years was drawn into the kitchen watching his mother and grandmother preparing the typical food of their area. His grandmother taught him the essence of preparing “mole” This emotion and the artistic nature of cooking made him desire to one day be a Chef. In his High School days in his native town, he began to receive his first cooking lessons. As many persons living in Mexico, Geno decided to make a better life and immigrated to United States, specifically to Chicago, Illinois.

Upon arriving to Chicago with barely any knowledge of the English language, Geno was selected between more 100 candidates to participate in the first program ever in United States to become a Professional Chef (1985) as part of an innovative curriculum for non-speaking English Hispanics in Bilingual Vocational Training funded by the Department of Education of US, housed in St. Augustine College. He completed his training with high qualifications and was placed as an Intern in the prestigious Frontera Grill under the direct supervision of Mr. Rick Bayless, prestigious owner and Chef. When finishing his internship (1987) due to his high qualities in the Food Service Industry and for his hard work, he was formally employed and, in a very short time, was promoted from Line Cook to Sous Chef in less than a year. During 1989-1999 he already was the Managing Chef and worked hand to hand with Mr. Bayless. Along with the Frontera Grill also the same owner opened the well acclaimed Topolobampo. Both Restaurants had extensive reviews and awards such as: Conde Nast Traveler, Holiday Travel, International Herald Tribune, Wine Spectator, Restaurants and Institutions (Ivy) Chicago; Zagat and local newspapers and journals.

Founding members of Chef Collaborative 2000 (1993) Chef Rick Bayless along with his chef de cuisine Geno Bahena and many other chefs from Chicago sign the Chefs Collaborative, a group devoted to promoting sustainable agriculture.

Geno continued his trajectory in the Food Service Industry from 1999 until 2008 when he continues to upgrade his professional experience; first as Consultant for designing the kitchen layout and menu development for the Real Tenochtitlan Restaurant in Chicago and then after he established his own Restaurants. First, Ixcapuzalco and after Chilpancingo; both as Executive Chef, owner in charge of designing menus with the taste of regional food of Mexico with many unknown and unfamiliar flavors in the Chicago area. The “mole” is a one of his preferred and exquisite part of his menus. From 2011 until 2016, Geno changed his residence and culinary experience to Malibu, California looking for a better weather with the seaside as compliment to his new task; La Costa Mission Restaurant. As in all his establishments his upscale refined Mexican dining is present in every dish he serves.

In 2013, Richard Geoffrey, from the prestige French Champagne Dom Pérignon sought Chef Geno Bahena for pairing moles with Champagne. “Magic!” “Whoo! So good!”. The same year, and for a 3-year period, Geno Bahena was nominated and recommended by his peers in the culinary field to be featured in “Best Chef America”.

Luis Chavez
Senior Director
Career Ladders Project
April 28, 2021
4pm (CT)

Andrea Sáenz
Chief Operating Officer
The Chicago Community Trust 
March 24, 2021
4pm (CT)

Andrea Sáenz is chief operating officer for The Chicago Community Trust, where she partners with colleagues across the organization to deliver on the its mission and goals. Sáenz joined the Trust from the Chicago Public Library where she served as first deputy commissioner and chief strategy officer. She previously served as chief of staff to Chicago Public Schools’ CEO, leading planning and implementation of district-wide initiatives.

Sáenz’ previous roles include policy advisor to the Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education and executive director of the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement, a national nonprofit working collaboratively with employers, universities and schools to increase Latinos’ entry and success in professional careers. She began her social sector career at Congreso de Latinos Unidos in Philadelphia, leading community-based adult education and workforce development.

Sáenz holds a Master’s degree in government administration from the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies from Scripps College. A 2010 Broad Resident and Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow since 2009, Sáenz serves as a mentor at 1871, Chicago’s tech entrepreneurship hub; serves on the National Board of the ACLU, and the boards of the Albert Pick Jr. Fund, Chicago Learning Exchange, Chicago Public Education Fund, Chicago Public Library Foundation, the James Dyson Foundation, and Instituto del Progreso Latino in Chicago.

Michelle Morales
Woods Fund Chicago

February 24, 2021
4pm (CT)

Michelle Morales is the President of the Woods Fund Chicago. Prior Woods Fund, Michelle led the Illinois chapter of the Mikva Challenge, a premier youth development civics organization that creates space for youth civic participation and leadership. Michelle’s background has been in the field of alternative education, focusing on and advocating for educational justice, first as a teacher at an alternative high school in Chicago’s Humboldt Park community and then as Associate Director at the Alternative Schools Network. In addition, she was an active community organizer for 16 years in Chicago’s Puerto Rican community, advocating for community development, education justice, economic justice, and against the rapid gentrification of the neighborhood. Michelle received a BA from DePaul University, a Master’s in Special Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Master’s in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. She is a fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago and had the privilege of participating in the inaugural cohort of Cultivate – a women of color leadership program developed by Woods Fund, Crossroads Fund, Chicago Community Trust and the Chicago Foundation for Women.

Michelle has used her varied career opportunities, her experiences as a first generation US born Puerto Rican woman and her platform to raise awareness and consciousness about: the power of youth voice, the dangers of adultism, utilizing community input in decision making, colonialism in Puerto Rican and the diasporic experiences of colonized peoples living in the United States. She is also a vocal advocate concerning racially equitable workplaces and strongly encourages organizations to not only apply a racial justice lens externally, but internally as well.

Michelle is honored to lead Woods Fund Chicago, one of six foundations in the city of Chicago which explicitly funds grassroots community organizing and public policy advocacy.

Sindy M. Benavides
League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)

January 27, 2021
4pm (CT)

To view the Lecture Series click here

Sindy Marisol Benavides is a Honduran-American immigrant who has experienced the American dream, and now devotes her career to public service, ensuring that countless young people, women, and immigrants have the same opportunity. She is currently Chief Executive Officer for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the oldest Hispanic civil rights organization in the country. She previously served as the Chief Operating Officer and National Director for Civic Engagement and Community Mobilization for LULAC, Vice President of Field & Political Operations for Voto Latino and as Northern Virginia Political Director for the 2012 Kaine for Virginia senatorial campaign. She has also been National Director of Community Outreach for the Democratic National Committee, and Latino Liaison and Director of Gubernatorial Appointments for Governor Timothy M. Kaine.

She received her Bachelor of Arts from Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia, where she graduated Valedictorian of her class and studied Political Science with a minor in Spanish. She has also attended American University for her Master’s degree in International Affairs and is working on submitting her substantial research paper. Sindy is the founder, co-founder, or founding board member of LULAC Council 4611, VA Latino Higher Education Network (VALHEN), VA Coalition of Immigrant Rights (VACIR), and the Hispanic Organization for Leadership and Action (HOLA). Sindy serves on numerous civic boards and can be found on Twitter @SindyBenavides. She lives in northern Virginia with her beloved family.

Ms. Benavides is an alumna of the Sorenson Political Leadership Program through the University of Virginia and the Virginia Executive Institute and Minority Political Leadership Institute through Virginia Commonwealth University. She is an alumna of the 2009 class of the National Hispana Leadership Institute. Sindy obtained her Certificate on Executive Management and Leadership from Harvard Kennedy School in April 2009 and attended the Center for Creative Leadership in July 2009. She was also named top 20 People to Watch in 2009 (Richmond magazine) and named top 20 Latina Women of Excellence in 2010 (Hispanic Business magazine). In 2010, Sindy was selected by the American Jewish Committee to travel to Israel with a delegation of 13 national Latina leaders. In 2013, Sindy was selected as part of the class of 2013-2014 for New York University’s IGNITE Fellowship for Women of Color in the Social Sector. In 2014, Ms. Benavides was selected for Emerge Virginia, the premier training program for Democratic women to run for public office. Lastly, in 2016, Sindy was selected for Hispanics in Philanthropy (HIP) Next Generation Latino Philanthropy Fellowship program.

Dr. Javier Cevallos
Kutztown University of Pennsylvania

December 9, 2020
4pm (CT)

To view the Lecture Series click here

Dr. Cevallos was born in Cuenca, Ecuador and his family moved to Puerto Rico when he was 14. Dr. Cevallos earned his bachelor’s degree in 1976 at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez. From Puerto Rico, he moved to Illinois where he earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in 1978 and 1981, respectively, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His area of research is Latin American literature, with particular emphasis in the Colonial era.

He began his career in education in 1981 as an assistant professor of Spanish at the University of Maine at Orono. In 1984, he moved to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he was promoted to associate professor in 1988 and to full professor in 1992. In 1994, he was asked to serve as faculty advisor to the provost. In 1996 he was selected as a Fellow by the American Council on Education (ACE) and spent his fellowship at Wesleyan University, in Middletown, Connecticut. Upon his return to UMass, Cevallos became chair of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Soon after, he was appointed Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, a post he held until 2002, when he became President of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania for many years, until beginning his tenure as President of Framingham State University in 2014.

Antonio R. Flores Ph.D
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities
November 4, 2020
4pm (CT)

To view the Lecture Series click here

Antonio R. Flores has served as president and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) for over twenty years. Flores has been a leading voice of Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs). Advocacy efforts have garnered over $4 billion in federal funding for HSIs.

HACU’s membership represents more than 500 colleges and universities that collectively serve two-thirds of the nearly 4 million Hispanic students in U.S. higher education across 37 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and includes 28 leading universities in Latin America and Spain.

Flores has received numerous recognitions and honors for his contributions to higher education. Flores earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor. He also received a Master of Arts degree in counseling and personnel from Western Michigan University, and undergraduate degrees in business administration and elementary education from Universidad de Guadalajara and Centro Normal Regional, Mexico, respectively.