The educator

Julia Thiel:

Salgado is president and CEO of the Instituto del Progreso Latino, an organization that works to provide education, training, and employment opportunities for Latinos in Chicago. The 46-year-old has received numerous awards for his work, including, most recently, the MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant.


run two charter schools, one focused on health care [the Health Sciences Career Academy]. Hospitals in the area said, “You’re doing a good job with nurses; we need doctors and surgeons.” They’re having to bring in talent from all over the world in order to meet their needs. Why can’t our kids achieve that?

A big part of the reason is they have to start thinking about it from seventh and eighth grade. Their parents are like mine—they’re factory workers, restaurant workers. They have to have course work that gets them ahead, because they’re going to have to compete for spots in nursing school or med school. So we created a school focused on incorporating a bunch of health-care courses, so that the kids that graduate really understand the human body.