Jose A. Zayas, 2017 Awardee

JoseAZayas.jpgJose A Zayas, A.M. has been working with youth and their families for 40+ years in the Bridgeport, Humboldt Park, West Town, Logan Square. Norwood, Rogers Park, Austin,  North Lawndale and Little Village neighborhoods. He presently works at Youth Guidance with the Becoming A Man (BAM) Program since 2014 to present.  During his journey he worked at  Roberto Clemente Academy High School for 10 years as the Youth Guidance Project Prepare Coordinator of the Culinary Training Program and as the Youth Guidance Comer School Development Social Worker at Harriet Beecher Stowe Academy and Jordan Community School from  1998 to 2011.  In the fall of 2011 through 2014 he was Clinical Assistant Professor at the Jane College of Social Work at UIC.

In 1987 he was appointed coordinator for the HISPANIC AIDS CONFERENCE at the Congress Hotel sponsored by the late Mayor Harold Washington and the Network for Youth Services. During 1978 to 1986 he was Unit Director of the Logan Square Boys and Girls Club. He is an alumni of George Williams College and graduated in 1974 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Behavioral Sciences, he has a professional  Pastry Chef certificate and attended  the Chicago Hospitality Institute of Chicago in 1998, Graduated from University of Chicago- The School of Social Service Administration with a Master’s Degree in Social Work in 1994.  He has been married to Theresa M Pacione and has a daughter Cristina Pacione-Zayas, son-in-law David Cruz  and proud grandfather of Catalina and Marcelo.

Learn more about Youth Guidance and BAM. Website:

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  • Craig Fitzgerald
    commented 2017-05-01 09:38:42 -0500
    Mr. Zayas was my supervisor during my 1st-year MSW internship with Youth Guidance at Jordan Community school in 2007-2008. Under his tutelage I learned many lessons that I explicitly recall to this day, and continue to share with others I have mentored. He helped me learn how to consider an entire community to be my client, rather than just the kids on my caseload. In retrospect, I realize how much freedom he gave me to work with some challenging students, allowing me the space to build my skills, and to grow personally. It’s pretty amazing a decade later how many vivid memories I have of our work together that year. There was lots of fun, and there were many challenges. I know Mr. Zayas has dedicated his life to helping others and made plenty of sacrifices to do so. I’m very happy we have stayed in touch after all these years, and know he’s completely deserving of this honor. Congratulations!
  • Judith Rocha
    commented 2017-04-26 21:27:16 -0500
    One of the greatest things Jane Addams College of Social Work provided to me was an opportunity to have incredible field instructors that while supervising me during my internships, offered the many culturally responsive practices I had not read about or discussed in class. I have been fortunate enough to have had two field instructors (during the BSW & MSW) that have both continued to support me through the challenges that a Latinx social worker faces beyond completion of those respective degrees. Both becoming lifelong friends and colleagues. One of those great souls is being recognized for his tireless efforts to represent the field well. During my bachelor in social work (BSW) experience 17 years ago, my brother was shot and killed. For the youngest in a single parent family, like my own, losing my brother equated to what it might feel like to lose a father-figure, a caretaker. If it hadn’t been for the consistent encouragement and genuine insterest in my success from my BSW field instructor, Jose Zayas, I may have never finished or even continued in this social work path. He kept me on track and saw something in me that I was under no conditions to see in myself during that major loss. Just recently I looked over my transcripts and realized I received all or mostly all C’s that semester that followed my brother’s passing. All that is a big blur now but what I’ll never forget is that he did not allow me to quit my internship and school like I thought of doing. He made me realize that I not only had lived a very similar life as many of the children I was seeing at this elementary school in Humboldt Park for therapy but now I had experienced a great loss like many of them do unfortunately very regularly. With his continued reassurance & clinical support, I was able to not only endure that academic year but gained what no classroom, book or institution could ever teach me, adequate mentoring has to be genuine and heartfelt to be effective. I am always so excited to see all your success and to know that you are in settings where your value IS truly recognized!

    Pa’lante Mr. Zayas