Catalina was born and raised in Woodstock, IL. Her mother and grandmother, legal immigrants from war-torn Guatemala, and her father, a small-business owner from Chicago, taught Catalina and her sister that no matter who you are or where you were born, you are the master of your own destiny.
Growing up in poverty on a small farm in Guatemala, Catalina’s “Abuelita” began working at only 8 years old, picking coffee beans to help put food on the table. Unable to go to school beyond the 3rd grade, what her grandmother lacked in formal education, she exceeded in compensating with her own drive and character. Her hard work and ingenuity led her to start her own food stand which grew into the neighborhood grocery store while raising four children on her own.
Catalina’s mother and her family fled Guatemala’s political instability and civil war in the 1980’s in pursuit of the American Dream, becoming legal and proud citizens of the United States. Grateful for any opportunity, Catalina’s mother worked as a cleaning lady and nanny, while learning English at night. Today, as a public servant for over 20 years, her mother remains a powerful advocate and leader in the McHenry County community.