Our Team

The Latinx Founders Collective is an initiative of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and is being lead by IHCC CEO Omar Duque,  Samara Mejia Hernandez, Principal at MATH Venture Partners and Kristen Sonday, Co-Founder and COO of Paladin. The Latinx Founders Collective is powered by a general operating grant from google.org

 
Omar Duque   Omar Duque serves as the President & CEO of the  Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC) . He is passionate about entrepreneurship and the role entrepreneurship plays in building community and in helping create a better world.  Omar is a Chicago native whose parents immigrated to the United States from Guatemala. He received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He worked as a reporter for the Albuquerque Tribune, one of the last afternoon daily newspapers in the country. Omar is a member of the board of directors for Loyola University Medical Center and Delta Dental of Illinois. 

Omar Duque

Omar Duque serves as the President & CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC). He is passionate about entrepreneurship and the role entrepreneurship plays in building community and in helping create a better world.  Omar is a Chicago native whose parents immigrated to the United States from Guatemala. He received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He worked as a reporter for the Albuquerque Tribune, one of the last afternoon daily newspapers in the country. Omar is a member of the board of directors for Loyola University Medical Center and Delta Dental of Illinois. 

Samara Mejia Hernandez   Samara Mejia Hernandez is a Principal at  MATH Venture Partners , an early to growth-stage fund managed by a seasoned team of hands-on investors and operators. Prior to joining MATH, Samara spent eight years at Goldman Sachs, where she was highly ranked in selling financial products, providing market insights, advising on portfolio construction, and consulting on business practices. She started her career in the Fixed Income, Currency and Commodity (FICC) group where she lead multiple technology enhancing projects across global exchanges. Samara is actively involved in the Chicago tech community and passionate about helping underrepresented groups get into STEM education, venture capital and entrepreneurship. She is on the leadership council for Women Tech Founders and an active mentor at 1871 and with the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.  Samara earned an Industrial and Operations Engineering degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Northwestern University.

Samara Mejia Hernandez

Samara Mejia Hernandez is a Principal at MATH Venture Partners, an early to growth-stage fund managed by a seasoned team of hands-on investors and operators. Prior to joining MATH, Samara spent eight years at Goldman Sachs, where she was highly ranked in selling financial products, providing market insights, advising on portfolio construction, and consulting on business practices. She started her career in the Fixed Income, Currency and Commodity (FICC) group where she lead multiple technology enhancing projects across global exchanges. Samara is actively involved in the Chicago tech community and passionate about helping underrepresented groups get into STEM education, venture capital and entrepreneurship. She is on the leadership council for Women Tech Founders and an active mentor at 1871 and with the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Samara earned an Industrial and Operations Engineering degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in Business Administration from Northwestern University.

Kristen Sonday   Kristen Sonday is the co-founder and COO of  Paladin , which helps legal teams run more efficient pro bono programs while increasing access to justice. In her role, she works with Fortune 500s, law firms, law schools, and bar associations to staff, manage, and track pro bono work and visualize the organization’s impact. Prior to Paladin, Kristen worked on international criminal matters in Mexico and Central America for the U.S. Department of Justice and served on the founding team of a New York City-based tech start-up. As a result of her work to close the justice gap, she has been named a 2017 ABA Woman in Legal Tech to Watch, ABA Journal Legal Rebel, and FastCase50 honoree.   In 2017, Kristen served as Google for Entrepreneurs’ Code2040 Entrepreneur-in-Residence at 1871, representing and promoting Black and Latinx founders. Her work included events and programming to connect entrepreneurs of color across Chicago’s tech ecosystem and culminated in a Latinx Startup Weekend to foster early entrepreneurship.

Kristen Sonday

Kristen Sonday is the co-founder and COO of Paladin, which helps legal teams run more efficient pro bono programs while increasing access to justice. In her role, she works with Fortune 500s, law firms, law schools, and bar associations to staff, manage, and track pro bono work and visualize the organization’s impact. Prior to Paladin, Kristen worked on international criminal matters in Mexico and Central America for the U.S. Department of Justice and served on the founding team of a New York City-based tech start-up. As a result of her work to close the justice gap, she has been named a 2017 ABA Woman in Legal Tech to Watch, ABA Journal Legal Rebel, and FastCase50 honoree. 

In 2017, Kristen served as Google for Entrepreneurs’ Code2040 Entrepreneur-in-Residence at 1871, representing and promoting Black and Latinx founders. Her work included events and programming to connect entrepreneurs of color across Chicago’s tech ecosystem and culminated in a Latinx Startup Weekend to foster early entrepreneurship.