Macarena Tamayo-Calabrese is the president and chief executive officer of the Naper Settlement, an interactive outdoor history museum dedicated to celebrating and preserving the history of the Naperville area. The Naper Settlement, located on more than 13 acres owned by a public trust through the city of Naperville, began with Ms. Tamayo-Calabrese’s historic home and the adjoining land, and has expanded to include more than 25 historically significant structures from the area. She and the Naperville Heritage Society, a nonprofit organization, work together to run the museum as a living history experience with a priority on preserving the site’s buildings, vegetation, and land, and highlighting the rich history of the Naperville area and its role within the region. While the settlement initially focused on the area’s history from the early 1800s through 1931, a period of great development and the creation of many of the site’s buildings, under Ms. Tamayo-Calabrese’s guidance, the organization has recently expanded its mission to include area history through the present. She hopes to continue to expand the museum and foundation into what she describes as “a campus of lifelong learning discovery and fun for all people,” and offers site rentals for community events in addition to tours, curated exhibits, classes and workshops, and school curriculum and field trips.
As the chief executive officer of the Naper Settlement, Ms. Tamayo-Calabrese is responsible for strategic planning and development, fundraising and building partnerships, and overseeing the site’s operations. Her leadership has helped transform the village from a small historic preservation site into a nationally accredited museum and learning center, with highlights including a collaborative research project and show about the history of racial segregation in the Northern United States that was funded in part by a grant by the Institute for Museum and Library Sciences. As a part of her work with the Naper Settlement, Ms. Tamayo-Calabrese is a member of the American Association of Museums, the Illinois Association of Museums, and the American Association for State and Local History, and an advocate for the Springfield-area Museum Day initiative.
In addition to her leadership work with the museum, Ms. Tamayo-Calabrese is a successful lawyer celebrating many years of practice with a focus on immigration law. Raised by Spanish immigrant parents, she was inspired by her childhood memories of learning English as a second language and serving as her mother’s translator for everyday events and during an extended divorce trial. Coming away from the trial feeling that her mother was not granted a fair outcome in court due to the barrier that her linguistic fluency presented, Ms. Tamayo-Calabrese was dedicated to providing others the opportunity for fair advocacy and representation.
Ms. Tamayo-Calabrese graduated from Loyola University with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and political science, and was awarded a Doctor of Jurisprudence by the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University in 1991. She is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association’s international law section and has worked closely with the American Bar Association throughout her career, serving as a special assistant to the executive director and director of the International Liaison Office. A constant advocate for others in the legal profession, Ms. Tamayo-Calabrese continues to be a part of the American Bar Association’s Asian law, African law, and Latin American and Caribbean initiative projects, and served as the executive director of the National Association of Women Lawyers.
Ms. Tamayo-Calabrese has been featured in The New York Times, “Today’s Inspired Latina” and was the subject of “Decent: How Could a Woman Whose Life Story Reads Like an Adventure Novel Raise Anything but an Independent Daughter?” a 2021 feature profile in the Chicago Tribune and Naperville Sun. She has contributed to a book currently in publication, and looks forward to transforming her community and legal work in the coming years to allow her to spend more time caring for her aging parents. Ms. Tamayo-Calabrese credits her success to her focus, vision, and relentless pursuit of her goals, and hopes to continue to empower others to find the same success.