“I’m most proud of my resilience and ability to create opportunities for myself,” said Ellie Esparza, Founder of Concrete Rose Studios and former Executive Development Associate of Aurora Food Pantry.This philosophy has served Ellie well and her achievements are numerous.
At 17, Ellie joined the military where she served four years and attended Illinois State University.
She later rose to manage a public accounting firm as a new mother. She purchased her first home at the age of 23 and recalls her cousin asking where she worked at the time. She responded with “the Aurora Food Pantry.”
Her cousin was familiar with the food pantry. “Do you know all of our moms used to wait in a line that wrapped around River Street just for food?” He said. “That was when she first learned of her close connection to our organization,” Ellie said. Because of this, she spearheaded the mural in the market project as her “last dance”. She credits Fisk and Fer, local artists for donating their time and talents and truly capturing her goal of a “This too shall pass message.”
Today, Ellie has her own Aurora-based, full-service digital branding agency. A testament to everyone’s ability to overcome difficult circumstances. Ellie always stood up for the underdog – in part because she understands their struggles. Having survived the criminality, gun and gang violence in Aurora, Ellie strives to foster opportunity in under-served neighborhoods. She said, “One time we had to move before we even finished unpacking because a rival gang leader lived across the street. And so that was our life, constantly moving.”