Artspace welcomes Amanda Cortés and Jeremy Staab to the 2018 Rafala Green Fellowship program. Both Fellows will relocate to Minneapolis in September to work at Artspace headquarters for the fellowship program’s inaugural year. The mission of the Rafala Green Program is to promote equity and inclusion among cultural communities often underrepresented in the real estate development field. The program, made possible by the Ford Foundation, fulfills that mission by training the next generation of leaders from underrepresented communities in the core competencies of real estate and artist-led community development. Rafala Green Fellows will work full-time at the Artspace headquarters in Minneapolis, MN, and support current projects in the Artspace development pipeline; work with mentors connected to Artspace’s national network; andattend a series of professional development opportunities aligned with nonprofit real estate development. Fellows will work at Artspace for two years. Amanda Cortés hails from Chicago, Illinois, where she works with a myriad of artistic, housing, and community organizations including Chicago ACT Collective, Instituto Grafico de Chicago (IGC), and the City of Chicago supporting the work of Alderman Ricardo Muñoz in the 22-Ward. Her interest in community development and real estate, although informed by various touchpoints in her professional background, are most directly linked to her work with Pilsen Housing Cooperative (PIHCO) Steering Committee. PIHCOis a limited-equity, scattered-site housing cooperative for longtime residents of Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. She describes the committee as artists and families with deep community ties,and points to the cooperative as a model to stand against gentrification and displacement. Cortés sees the Rafala Green Fellowship as an opportunity to “explore the practicalities of creating housing where kinship and community are situated before profit.”
Cortés also has experience with grant writing, strategic planning, and creating dialogue across communities through artistic and political collaboration. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Communications from Southern Illinois University Carbondale; and a Juris Doctorate from Southern Illinois University School of Law Carbondale. Jeremy Staab is an enrolled member of the Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska,but calls Sioux City Iowa home. He has served in many management roles at First Peoples Fund (FPF), a national Native-led nonprofit organization that puts artists and culture bearers at the center of community development. In 2015, he oversaw programming and community outreach of the Rolling Rez Arts (RRA), a state-of-the-art mobile artsspace, business training center, and mobile bank on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He also managed First Peoples Fund's Indigenous Arts Ecology Grant program, and grantees from across the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii. His deep interest in community development and real estate was sparked by a mentorship opportunity at Ho-Chunk Community Development Corporation (HCCDC), one of the nation’s most prestigious tribal community development corporations. Staab hopes that his time as Rafala Green Fellow will lead him to new opportunities “to continue to create systemic change within social economic sectors through arts and culture to grow a more equitable future for the next generation.” Staab also has previous experience in commercial management, property management, and construction oversight. He holds a B.A. in Business Administration from Haskell Indian Nations University and a Master’s in Business Administration through Baker University.