Catalyst Ranch, Chicago’s most creative meeting venue, is staffed by a talented team of quirky characters known as Ranch Hands.  Individuals who have artistic leanings are drawn to Catalyst Ranch’s colorful workspace, diverse clientele, and co-workers of similar sensibility. That’s why you’ll find that every Ranch Hand leads a full life filled with an array of artistic pursuits.  Ranch Hand Spotlight is an occasional blog series that invites you to take a sneak peek behind the scenes at the Ranch.  Meet the fine folks who work together to anticipate and accommodate our clients’ every need from copies to catering! See what they do here at the Ranch and the ways they use their creativity in endeavors outside the Ranch!

Today’s Spotlight focuses on Yando Lopez!

As a talented singer and actor, Yando Lopez is no stranger to the spotlight.  Theatre Critic Chris Jones recently selected Yando for the Chicago Tribune’s annual Top Ten list of new talents on Chicago’s stages in his article “HOT NEW FACES 2014: Here they are, 10 talents you should know.”  For the photo shoot, Yando invited the Trib to Catalyst Ranch, where, as you can see, they took some great shots in the Mambo Room.

Yando in the Mambo Room.  Photo by Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune /July 16, 2014

Yando in the Mambo Room. Photo by Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune /July 16, 2014

Name: Yando

Job Title: Inventory Specialist/Ranch Hand

At the Ranch since: February 2014

Nickname:  At the Ranch?  I have several!  Jambo, Jamiroquai, and most recently, Yandeezi LaCroix

Q: You just got a promotion here at the Ranch to Inventory Specialist.  Can you give us an idea of what you’ve been doing as a Ranch Hand and what new responsibilities you’ll have?

A: I have been making sure events happen without a hitch.  And now, I’m going to be buying everything essentially.  I’ll do the Swedish Bakery pickup, the inventory, basically purchasing all of the food items that aren’t from Big Delicious Planet catering: snacks, sodas, and coffee, all the fun stuff.

Q: And now you get to drive the Ranch mobile?

A: Yes I do!

Q: How’s the parallel parking going?

A: My roommate has come out of our house every single day so far and walked me through it, so I’m getting there.

Q: Where are you from originally?

A: Miami, Florida

Q: And you don’t really practice parallel parking there?

A: It is not on the driving test.  At all!  Because there are big parking spots everywhere!

Q: What do you like best about working at Catalyst Ranch?

A: My work study was at an event space all throughout college, and I just really loved it.  It was fun and it was a family, and it’s pretty much the exact same thing here.  When I tell people about what I’m doing now, I say it’s like Norris

[University Center], which is where I used to work.  And they say, “You would be the one that found that job!” because I was all about Norris when I was in school [at Northwestern University.] I loved working there so much, so now I get to do it again!

Rocking Horse

Q: Do you have a favorite toy or game at the Ranch?

A: The rocking horse.

Q: Do you have a favorite color?

A: I thought I did, but I don’t know now.  It might be purple.  I thought it was blue, but it might be purple.




Yando Lopez at Catalyst Ranch.  Photo by Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune /July 16, 2014

Yando Lopez at Catalyst Ranch. Photo by Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune /July 16, 2014

Q: Outside of the Ranch, you do a lot of acting and singing, and you were recently featured in the Chicago Tribune as one of the Top Ten new talents – Congratulations!  Would you like to tell us more about that experience and how your family and friends have responded?

A: I was actually at the Ranch when I got the call that they had picked me, and I was freaking out about it already.  It was essentially a phone interview with Chris Jones, then a video interview with Johnny Oleksinski, and then a photo shoot.  They asked me where I wanted to do the photo shoot, and I said, “Let’s do it at the Ranch because it’s colorful!  And I’ll ask [permission] later, and if not I can change it.”

I didn’t know how big of a deal it was, but my mom and my dad were so excited, and I’ve already promised to buy out all the Tribunes in print, so I can send copies to them.  I’m just happy that – especially for my family who doesn’t always get it – I’m happy that I get to show them something.  They are both incredibly musically talented, but they never ever thought to do it as a career, so it’s confusing to them.  So I’m glad I get to show them that and say, “This is the Chicago Tribune.  That is your son. And ten is not a big number.”

Congratulations Yando!  Read the article and watch Yando’s interview here!