Meet the Mentorship & Workforce Development Team

Maria Rivera

Director, Mentorship & Workforce Development

The year was 2001 when Patrick Magoon, former Lurie Children's CEO, said "yes" to the idea of creating a program that provides early exposure and pathways for teens of color to professional healthcare careers. In the summer of 2001, Maria hosted the first eight Discovering Healthcare Careers ("DHC") students. 20 years later she continues to bring the same passion, enthusiasm and innovation to Lure Children's. As a result of a successful pilot, DHC continues to grow and evolve each year. Maria celebrated 30 years at Lurie Children's in August 2022.

Jessica Duarte

Program Manager

Born and raised in Chicago's south side, Jessica was interested in the healthcare field and became an intern for the DHC program in 2010. She first attended Cornell College under the pre-med track, in hopes of one day becoming a doctor. After finding her passion for youth development programs, Jessica transferred to DePaul University to continue her undergraduate studies to major in Human Development Psychology. For the last 10 years, Jessica has worked for various non-profit organizations across Chicago to support youth with their academic and career interests. Jessica hopes to one day obtain her MPH and continue working with organizations that focus on community and youth development.

Sharon Alvarado

Program Coordinator

Sharon started with our team in 2019 as Program Assistant, and in 2020 she transitioned into our Program Coordinator. Sharon also manages our Social Media and Marketing efforts. She graduated from UIC with a BA in Sociology & Political Science. She is a Chicago Native, constantly looking out for resources to help out the community and engaged in community efforts through her work with us and on her own. Sharon has returned to get her Master in Social Work at Loyola Chicago University.

Jose Muñoz

Program Coordinator

Jose first got his foot in the door of Lurie Children's in 2015 as an intern for our Discovering Healthcare Careers Program. A year later, Jose was brought back as a Summer Assistant for the 2016 DHC cohort. While working for GEAR UP as a College Access Facilitator, Jose worked with various CPS schools. Jose got his BS from NEIU in 2019. After 5 years with GEAR UP, Jose was hired as our Program Coordinator.