Past Iskali Inspire Award Recipients:
Esmeralda Zepeda is the West Regional Director of Services at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and has served the organization in various capacities for 20 years. A native of Chicago, Esmeralda began her church involvement as a child, singing in the Spanish choirs of Our Lady of Lourdes and St. Stanislaus Kostka. This came naturally for Esmeralda, who is a strong believer in exploring our innate expressivity through our voice.
So it was natural, too, that her faith guided her career path to Catholic Charities, where she has served as a teacher at Madonna/St. Joseph Center in Wrigleyville, Social Worker for St. Joseph’s Early Childhood in Back of the Yards, Site Director for the St. James Early Childhood Program in Maywood, Our Lady of Tepeyac Head Start in Little Village and St. Mary of Celle Family Child Development Center in Berwyn.
As a firm believer of a community shared mission and vision, Esmeralda helped establish the Catholic Outreach Network. In this essential role, she has brought together a group of Catholic organizations and programs to share resources to better serve clients and parishioners.
For her efforts and commitment to Catholic Charities, Esmeralda was awarded the Vincentian Fellowship Scholarship from DePaul University, where she completed a Master’s of Social Work in 2015. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Loyola University and a Master’s degree in the same field from National Louis University. Recently, she completed a Leadership and Fund Development Certification from the University of Notre Dame. Esmeralda is a member of the Consejo Hispano of the Archdiocese of Chicago and participates in many Archdiocesan activities and events.
Martin Cabrera is the CEO and Founder of Cabrera Capital Markets (CCM) and Cabrera Capital Partners (CCP).
Cabrera Capital Markets (CCM) provides global investment banking and institutional brokerage services to a substantial and diversified client base that includes financial institutions, states and municipalities, corporations, unions, foundations and endowments. CCM has issued over $330 billion in debt for municipalities and over $400 billion in debt and equities for corporations nationally and internationally. CCM’s taxable fixed income and global equities trading desks are transacting over one billion in securities daily.
Cabrera Capital Partners (CCP) provides commercial and residential real estate development expertise, investment, and consulting services to a full range of clients in the public, private, institutional and non-profit sectors. CCP has experience providing investment advisory services including development, acquisition and management of over $3.5 billion in institutional real estate. CCP’s current real estate development focus is the transformation of a thirty-six acre vacant in-fill site on Chicago’s Southwest side into a 400+ million mixed income and mixed use community providing essential housing, services and jobs.
Martin has over twenty-five years of investment experience. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Northern Illinois University and studied at the London School of Economics.
Martin currently serves as a Board Member at Chicago Community Trust, Member of the Archbishop’s Finance Council and Chairman of the Real Estate Committee for the Archdiocese of Chicago, Chairman of the Endowment Committee at St. Ignatius College Prep, Governing Board Member at Econ Illinois, Board Member of World Business Chicago, Board Member of Latino Donor Collaborative, Former Chairman of the City Colleges of Chicago and Former Chairman of the Chicago Plan Commission.
Montse joined The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty in 2009 and was named VP & Executive Director in February 2017. With a background in Public Policy and Campaigns, she has led initiatives at Becket in development, communications, strategy and operations that have helped secure religious liberty victories against the contraceptive mandate, protect the rights of churches to choose their leaders, and safeguard the free speech of crisis pregnancy centers and religious groups on campus.
Montse has a masters from The George Washington University and a B.A. from Florida International University. She served on the Montgomery County commission for women in Maryland and is currently on the board of the Patient's Rights Action Fund, The Leading Advocate Against the Legalization of Assisted Suicide; a board member of speech first; a lay consultant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Religious Liberty Committee; a member of the President's Advisory Counsel of The Fellowship of Catholic University Students; on the advisory council to the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious and the given Institute; and on The Hispanic Affairs Advisory Board for the Philos Project.
Although not an attorney, she "Plays one on Tv" advocating for Becket Clients on major television and radio networks including Univision, CNN en Español, Telemundo, Fox Business, and EWTN. Born in Mexico City, she is fluent in Spanish and french and is a competitive jazz and classical vocalist.
Joshua D. Hale is the President and CEO of Big Shoulders Fund which invests more than $50 million annually to support its network of 92 schools serving nearly 25,000 students in Chicago and Northwest Indiana – of whom nearly 80 percent identify as Black or Hispanic and nearly 70 percent who reside in low-income households. Annual investments are for scholarships and student enrichment, operational support and financial management, academic and professional development programs, leadership development, and an adopt-a-school program. In 2020, the organization’s leadership announced Big Shoulders Fund Plus, a 10-year, $90 million commitment to undertake local management of 30 of its highest-need schools. Since this announcement, seven schools have been added to Big Shoulders Fund Plus. This program gives principals the opportunity to plan strategically with Big Shoulders Fund to improve operations, further grow student outcomes, and ensure the viability of the schools for the benefit of the children and communities they serve.
Mr. Hale was a fellow in the Leadership Greater Chicago and an inaugural member of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ Emerging Leaders Program. Mr. Hale serves on the Board of Directors of The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and The Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago. Mr. Hale is a Director on the Board of Amerigo Education, Inc. and FirsTech, Inc. He is a member of The Commercial Club, The Economic Club, the Chicago Commonwealth Club, and The Chicago Club where he is a member of the House Committee.
In 2010, Mr. Hale was a “40 Under 40” in Crain’s Chicago Business Journal and, in 2022, this same publication included Mr. Hale on their list of Crain’s Chicago Business 2022 Notable Leaders in Community Development.
Previously, Mr. Hale was on the management team at Cristo Rey Jesuit High School and a consultant with The Hale Group, Ltd. After graduating from Marquette University, Mr. Hale spent two years as a volunteer in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. He resides in Chicago with his wife and their two sons.