April 02, 2002

For the past 30 years, the Spanish Coalition for Jobs (SCJ) has been a cornerstone in the Chicagoland Latino community, a place for individuals to turn for professional development and educational advancement.

On May 2, SCJ will honor alumni from decades past and point the way toward future success stories at the organization's annual anniversary/fundraiser dinner, held at the Chicago Hilton and Towers.

"We started in a deli and now, 30 years later, we're running a nationally accredited business school," said Mary Gonzalez-Koenig, SCJ president and CEO. "We've placed people into jobs and careers previously not thought possible."

Each year, SCJ offers assistance to nearly 4,000 individuals through walk- in employment services, specialized job training and remedial education programs. Since its inception in 1972, the organization has evolved with the times and the changing needs of employers. "We try to assess larger trends -- what companies are hiring for -- and stay ahead of the curve," Gonzalez-Koenig said.

To that end, a new bilingual medical assistant training program recently was instituted and will graduate its first class this summer. The program was made possible by a grant from MacNeal Health Foundation, which will receive a special award at the anniversary dinner.

Acknowledging the vital role SCJ plays in offering hope to underprivileged Latinos, Scott Smith, president and publisher of the Chicago Tribune and chairman of the 2002 SCJ dinner, said, "Chicago is a city built on the strength of its ethnic communities. Over the years, SCJ has been instrumental in helping Latinos reach their professional potential. SCJ has paved the way for increasing the Latino presence in the work place -- from entry-level to executive positions -- and that's fundamental to the growth of Chicago's economy."

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