Don Villar was born into the labor movement and spirit of social justice. His father was on strike, fighting for better wages and benefits for bank workers in the Philippines, when he was born. Like many seeking a better life for their young children, his parents and three siblings immigrated to the U.S. They first moved to Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood before settling in Lakeview. His mother was a proud member of UNITE-HERE, working at a flight kitchen at O’Hare Airport to put her children through parochial school. Don attended St. Andrew’s Elementary School and Quigley North Preparatory Seminary High School.
Thanks to a SEIU represented security guard job at a Loop office building, Don attended UIC and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications. In 1991, Don became a member of NABET-CWA Local 41 – a union representing broadcast news and TV production workers in Chicago. During his nearly 25-year broadcast journalism career at WLS-TV (ABC) Chicago, Don won an Emmy Award for breaking news coverage.
In 2007, Don participated in his first negotiations with ABC. It was during the tense bargaining that he was inspired to go to Law School to be a better advocate for his coworkers. He would earn his Juris Doctorate at Loyola Law School within three years while still working fulltime at WLS-TV.
In 2010, Don was elected Vice President of NABET-CWA Local 41 and then President in 2015. In this role, he focused on organizing, movement building and collective bargaining. NABET-CWA Local 41’s membership grew under his leadership, with the successful efforts to organize employees at CAN TV and Big Shoulders. He also worked hard to engage the members and build solidarity.
In addition, Don is President of the CWA Illinois Unified Council, is on the Campaign Cabinet of United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, and is a licensed attorney.
Don is married to his wife Rose Tibayan, a former Television news reporter. They live in the West Loop.