Robert Montgomery is the new Executive Director of Urban Muslim Minority Alliance (UMMA). Prior to moving to Waukegan, Robert worked nearly 20 years in nonprofit leadership and development for organizations like Peoria Friendship House of Christian Service, Boys & Girls Clubs and United Way. He started his fundraising career as a minister for the Chicago Church of Christ where he was taught the art of relationship management. From there he used his public speaking and training skills to raise millions of dollars for various charities.
Robert earned his Bachelor of Arts in Urban Planning at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and his Master of Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His vision is to develop a blueprint for success that helps transform underprivileged communities through education, political influence and personal inspiration.
Director of Operations and Programs
Tameeca N. Russell comes with many years of experience developing and implementing educational programs that allow students to achieve academic excellence. Her passion is helping students identify their individual strengths and providing a menu of opportunities that will enable them to succeed in life. Tameeca holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master of Arts degree in Business Management from Webster University. Her previous job experiences include program development, staff supervision, grant management, student advising and community collaboration. In addition, she has experience building healthy relationships and coordinating programs as well as workshops that enhance students overall cultural experience, identity development while transitioning students to higher education. Mrs. Russell has participated in many community ventures, including serving as a Youth Director at her church. She's very proud to receive the Most Influential African American in Lake County-Community Civic Leader.
Omar Jimenez is the New Project Manager at the UMMA Center. The Food Pantry and the Uplift Program are his main concentration. He came to us with a heavy background in Information Technology and Local Government. He is one of the many people that was not afraid to take the next step in changing his life. In 2013 he took that leap, in just a few months he acquired his G.E.D and enrolled in college pursuing his career goals. He achieved his Associates Degree in Computer Science with a Major in Network Administration and is still pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree in Community Development.
By 2021 he had achieved a complete turnaround in his life. Over the years Omar has been involved in many community serving positions. At 17 he started working with R.M Pyles Boys Camp as a Youth Counselor for at-risk teens. Living in the Sequoia National Forest shaped his core structure and helped him connect with God on new levels. He also volunteered as an assistant Gurnee Park District Little league coach, worked as a Latino Leader in the Staffing industry helping fill the language barrier and treatment, Volunteered at Many Local organizations and just recently worked as an IT Administrators serving in City Hall under Mayor Sam Cunningham. He continues to serve our communities across Lake County, IL.
Empowerment of Minorities through Love and Positive Leadership. -Omar Jimenez
Vanessa Lara is our newest team member here at UMMA. She graduated from Waukegan High School and has always been an active member in the community. She is currently attending National Louis University majoring in Criminal Justice and minoring in Psychology. She is very passionate to reduce poverty, not only in her community but around the world. Here at UMMA she updates flyers for upcoming classes and events, develops and helps coordinate projects. On her time off she loves to spend time with her family.
Ms. Blanton has been teaching GED at UMMA since 2016, and is a tenured public school educator with 18 years experience. Ms. Blanton's educational background includes a Bachelors of Science in secondary education from Eastern Illinois University. In 2004, she earned her M.A. in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago Illinois and in 2014 she completed her MBA w/certificate in Organizational Leadership from North Park University.
Computer Training Instructor
Michael Russell is UMMA's Computer Instructor. Mr. Russell has over 20 years working for 2 fortune 500 corporations. Michael is currently employed by the Kenosha Unified School District as an Information Technology Specialist. He matriculated through Waukegan Public School and received his secondary education from Devry and Almeda Universities. Michael completed the Salesforce Instructor Training and has obtained various certification from both Microsoft and A+ training.
English as a Second Language and Spanish Instructor
Raquel Valenzuela is the new ESL and Spanish instructor. She is from Mexico CIty, growing up in Chicago. She comes with many years of experience in teaching. Raquel has been a teacher for more that 20 years, teaching English and Spanish to the elementary level. Raquel has also taught adults in both languages making every student value their language, culture, traditions and history. Her passion is to help each individual to value its language and the importance of a second language spoken. She inspires others to pursue and work smart to achieve their goals in life. Raquel holds a Bachelor's Degree in Bilingual-Bicultural Education from Chicago State University, a Master Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Loyola University, and endorsement in Special Education from Roosevelt University and a National Certification for Education. She is an active teacher for the Waukegan Public Schools. She has experience teaching from Pre-k all the way to college, in both languages. In addition, Raquel has collaborated with the instructional curriculum implemented in the WPS60. Raquel enjoys developing family relationships with her students. She believes these relationships always strengthen the learning process. Her previous teaching experiences have been with Chicago Public School, Lake County College, Multilingual Institute of Chicago and Quiroga University. She enjoys having quality time with her family. She loves hikes with her little dog. She enjoys listening to old school music and watching movies from the golden years .-Raquel Valenzuela
Reveca Bello is a Mexican American citizen, born and raised in Puebla, Mexico. At the age of 20, Rebecca along with her husband and child, migrated to the United States in hopes of a better life. She reunited with her family in Waukegan, Illinois, and for several years worked numerous temporary jobs. Rebecca works for the UMMA Center part time currently living in Waukegan with her husband and 4 children.
Jaquelin Mendez Ocampo
My name is Jaquelin Mendez, I was born in Mexico and have approximately 1 year and 9 months in United States. I'm currently studying English, obtaining my GED, and working for UMMA. I help with the food pantry and also assist in administration. I really like my work. It allows me to continue with my studies. In my free time I like to volunteer at a church, along with learn more about United States culture. I'm preparing myself to study nutrition due to that I think it's really important to maintain good health. I also would like to prepare myself more educationally to be a better citizen of the United States.