Mission Statement

Taller de José is a community resource center that offers accompaniment to people in need connecting people to services and services to people. As a sponsored ministry of the Congregation of St. Joseph, Taller de José exists so that all may be one.

Vision Statement
  • Continue to address the needs and current situations of members of the community as clients
  • Receive and accompany clients in their individual needs through a caring and pastoral way
  • Provide a safe place for men, women, and children to voice their stories and seek assistance
  • Seek to collaborate with other non-profits and for-profits to bring about development of ministries and services that address people in need
  • Generate funding to become a self sustaining organization
  • Be locally known for the way it accompanies clients in addressing their needs and connecting them to agencies, in the process interconnecting agencies, programs, and ministries
  • Be the faith-based social service agency of choice where local churches send people in need in the Little Village/Pilsen and surrounding communities
  • Develop a model of client accompaniment that may be replicated in other communities and social service agencies


With the desire that all may be one, the Sisters of St. Joseph were founded in 1650 to address the most crucial needs of the people in Le Puy, France. Taller de José was born in this tradition. Sr. Carol Crepeau, Sr. Kathy Brazda and Rev. Robert Casey wished to establish a ministry which would meet the most pressing needs of the residents of the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago, so that God's dream of unioning love would be present. Little Village is a port of entry for Mexican natives seeking a new life in the city of Chicago. Many residents experience the stresses of immigration and life in a new place. Basic needs, such as housing, transportation, medical care, education, and employment are frequently inaccessible. Various social service agencies are available, but often people do not have the information, knowledge, or skills to access them. Help is needed to navigate a complex social service system.

Taller de José was created to make social services more accessible to a vulnerable population and provide a safe and caring place where God's love and compassion is manifest through the ministry of accompaniment. In September of 2007, Sr. Kathy was hired as the director. During the first year, she created the organizational structure, procured funding, networked with social service agencies and helped develop an advisory board.

Taller de José opened its doors on September 8th with a staff of three compañeras, Sr. Therese Gleeson, BVM, Lisa Monnot, an Amate volunteer and a social work intern. During the first year of operation, Taller de José continued to network with agencies to find resources for its clients. Key partnerships with Catholic Charities, and Loyola and Dominican Universities were formed. Over one hundred clients were accompanied in their search for resources.

In the summer of 2009, Lisa Monnot joined the staff as the Associate Director. Taller de José formed a new partnership with the Urban CPE Consortium. Working with the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation, Taller de José began offering accompaniment to women who participate in the Latinas Stay Healthy Program. Sr. Betty Smigla, OP and Kerry McGuire, an Amate volunteer were added as compañeras in the fall. Throughout the past year, the staff of Taller de José continued its community outreach informing people about the services of Taller de José at schools, health fairs and community gatherings and learning more about resources for their clients. In the past year the number of clients served has more than doubled.

In July of 2010, Taller de José became separately incorporated and its Advisory Board became a Board of Directors. In September, Taller de José will open an office at St. Agnes Parish and Kerry McGuire has been hired as St. Agnes Site Director.

Taller de José founders left to right: Sr. Carol Creapeu, CSJ; Sr. Kathy Brazda, CSJ; Rev. Robert Casey


Sr. Kathy Brazda, CSJ,
Executive Director

Sr. Kathy Brazda, CSJ, executive director of Taller de José, is a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph. She has ministered in the Archdiocese of Chicago in various capacities. She taught Junior High and High School for seventeen years serving at Maria High School, Nazareth Academy, Bridgeport Catholic Academy, St. Michaels (South Shore), St. Callistus and Children of Peace. Next, she served as pastoral associate of Notre Dame de Chicago for eleven years. Serving as Executive Director of Taller de José enables Sr. Kathy to expand the Congregation of St. Joseph's mission of active, inclusive love.

Lisa Monnot,
Associate Director

Lisa Monnot has been with Taller de José since its opening in September of 2008, when she was an Amate House volunteer. Originally from Canton, Ohio, Lisa graduated from the University of Dayton with Bachelors of Arts in Spanish and Public Relations. Her love for traveling, the Latino culture, Spanish language, and service to others led her to Taller de José. Lisa is currently enrolled at DePaul University and is studying to receive her Masters in Non Profit Management.

Sr. Theresa Gleeson, BVM, Compañera

Sr. Theresa Gleeson, BVM, has been with Taller de José since its opening in September 2008. Originally from Glendale, California, Sr. Theresa has had an array of experiences that have preceded her time at Taller de José. She was a grade school teacher, worked in adult education, ministered in Ecuador, and lived and worked on a migrant labor camp in Texas. All of these experiences led Sr. Theresa to want to work with the Spanish-speaking people in Chicago. In 2006, Sr. Theresa celebrated her Golden Jubilee as a Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Kerry McGuire,
Compañera and St Agnes Site Director

Kerry McGuire, began working at Taller de José in August 2009 as an Amate House volunteer and now joins the staff as the St. Agnes Site Director. Originally from Deerfield, IL, Kerry is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame where she studied Spanish, gender studies, and pre-medicine. During her time as a student at Notre Dame, she served as president of the Commuity Alliance Serving Hispanics as well as interned for the Red Cross in Toledo, Spain and Puente a la Salud Comunitaria in Oaxaca, Mexico. She looks forward to work with St. Agnes of Bohemia and to spread Taller de José's mission of accompaniment within the Little Village community.

Sr. Betty Smigla, SP, Compañera

Sr. Betty Smigla is a Sister of Providence from Chicago. She has also had an array of experiences that have ultimately led her to Taller de José. Sister Betty has worked in several inner-city Chicago schools as a teacher and principal. She has also worked in Peru at a reform school for boys and has worked with orphans in Guatemala. Sr. Betty chose to use her talents at Taller de José so that she could "empower people in their time of need, with care and respect."

Joan Stopka, Compañera

Joan Stopka has taught high school Spanish, both in Chicago and the suburbs, for 38 years. She received both her bachelors and masters degrees from Loyola University. She has an additional 60 hours beyond the masters, enabling her to teach Italian, Etymology and to be a certified ESL/Bilingual teacher. She has traveled extensively in Central and South America. While teaching at Lyons Township High School in La Grange, she took students to study in both Spain and Mexico. She is the president of the Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Joan chose to volunteer at Taller De José, after her retirement, because she felt a strong need to be of service to the Hispanic community.

Maeve Raphelson, Compañera

Maeve Raphelson joined our staff in August 2010 as an Amate Volunteer. Originally from Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Maeve recently graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in Sociology and Spanish with a minor in Catholic Social Tradition. Maeve has spent time at a shelter for battered migrant women in Houston, Texas and volunteering at an organization that helps immigrants find jobs in Toledo, Spain. She also spent the spring of 2009 living and studying in Spain. She was drawn to Taller de José by its mission of accompaniment and the unique and necessary service this provides in the Little Village community.

Board of Directors

Rev Robert Casey-Board Chair
St. Barbara Brookfield, IL

Carmen Flores-Avila-secretary
Administrative Assistant
El Milagro

Linda Rangel-Campos, Esq.

Lawrence M. Choate, OSM
Director, Development Office Friar Servants of Mary

Kathy Donahue
Catholic Charities
Senior Vice President of Program Development and Evaluation

Patrick Green
Loyola University Chicago
Director of Experiential Learning

Luis Gutierrez
Executive Director
Latinos Progressando

Sr. Ann Letorneau, CSJ
Doctoral Student-Clinical Psychology
Chicago School of Psychology

Nancy Loewenberg Young
Wealth Advisor, Investment Management Consultant
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney