We have to be seen. We have to be heard.

Liliana Olayo, a mother of three and now a brand-new grandmother from Aurora, Illinois, is a shining example of how El estilo COFI brings out the inner leader within. Originally from Mexico, she first became involved with COFI after attending a COFI training in 2015 at her child’s school. Using what she learned in COFI training, she helped advocate for and won school buses for all students living more than a mile and a half from school in School District 131, where her children attend. As she tells the Chicago Sun-Times in a recent profile, “[COFI] gave me the tools that I needed to be a better parent.” 

Liliana has continued to drive positive change for families in Aurora and beyond. As President of the School District’s Bilingual Advisory Council, she grew the group from eight active parents to over 200! She is also the President of the Oak Park School Neighbors Group.

At COFI, she serves as Co-President of POWER-PAC IL and as one of four parent leaders on the Board of Trustees. She is an active member of POWER-PAC IL’s Aurora branch, Padres Líderes Activos, as well as a COFI Peer Trainer and Teambuilder. In 2021, she was chosen to be one of a small cohort of COFI mothers for a national fellowship advocating for economic security for women of color.

Despite being so busy in her many leadership roles, she remains committed and determined to keep fighting for families. “This is my passion now,” she says. “With COFI, I’ve found a family that accepts me where I am. I am part of this movement.”