Rafael “Rafa” Yañez
Office running for: Alderman, 15th Ward
Rafael “Rafa” Yañez has devoted his entire professional career and community activism to public service, particularly focusing in providing opportunities and mentorship to youth.
In 2007, he founded U.N.I.O.N. Impact Center, a nonprofit organization that has successfully mentored over 1500 youth from New City/Back of the Yards, Brighton Park, Englewood and other neighborhoods. U.N.I.O.N. Impact provides training and activities in sports, art, job skills, health, and civic engagement. His efforts through U.N.I.O.N. have brought more than $250,000 in investment for youth programming and health resources to our community. Coordinating those activities among diverse neighborhoods has led Rafa to believe in the importance of coalescing individual, organizational and institutional efforts into a strong, supportive fabric to sustain our young people’s futures. Rafa believes young people in our communities are full of potential and unimaginable talent but our communities lack the resources to tap into our young people’s potential.
As a police officer, Rafa has invested countless hours mentoring young people and providing trainings to parents and students throughout dozens of schools in throughout Chicago as part of the Officer Friendly program. Currently, he is a Crime Prevention Specialist with the Police Department. His work is widely recognized, and he has received numerous professional awards from the Chicago Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.
Rafael Yanez was born in Chicago but spent his early childhood in Mexico, and he has lived in in the southwest side of Chicago since returning to the U.S. at the age of nine. He is a proud son of immigrant parents and a product of CPS neighborhood schools. He attended City Colleges of Chicago until he transferred to Calumet College of St. Joseph where he obtained his B.A and master’s degree. He holds a Ph.D. in Education from Argosy University.
Rafael is an active community stakeholder of the 15th ward, he is currently a member of the LSC at Back of the Yards High School College Prep and a parishioner of Immaculate Conception Church. He and his wife Leticia have raised their two children in the 15th ward in the past 20 years. This is his second time running for office, he ran for 15th ward alderman in 2015.