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The PrivateBank Norman Bobins Leadership Award

Growing up in a rapidly changing Old Town, Modesto Tico Valle learned early in life the values of community activism and nimble leadership. But it was in the midst of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s that Modesto emerged as a true leader, growing into one of the nation’s most effective advocates for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ) community and for HIV/AIDS awareness. Over the past decades and throughout major sea changes in the fight for LGBTQ rights, Modesto’s creative and tenacious efforts have brought new resources to, and empowered, the community that he serves.

As an organizer, Modesto worked as a volunteer, staff member and founder of a number of Chicago-area nonprofits, including the Chicago NAMES Project, Chicago House, Test Positive Awareness Network, Open Hand Chicago, and Gay Horizons, the preeminent social services group to the gay community. In 2003, Horizons shifted its focus to provide more holistic services to the community and became the Center on Halsted.

Modesto became the chief executive officer of the Center in 2007 where he oversaw the opening of the 175,000-square-foot community center in Lakeview, which now serves more than 1,000 people every day. A safe and accepting place, the Center on Halsted offers activities like volleyball and cooking classes, as well as support and health services such as HIV testing, group therapy, and job training—all in accordance with Modesto’s vision of developing all aspects of a person’s life. Again identifying and responding to the needs of the community, this year Modesto formed a partnership with Heartland Housing, Inc. to create the city’s first affordable housing development devoted to LGBTQ seniors.

For his decades of work on LGBTQ issues and his vision of building a more equal Chicago, Modesto Tico Valle is this year’s winner of The PrivateBank Norman Bobins Leadership Award.