Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center
Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Omar Torres-Kortright has been working as a music promoter in Chicago since 2003 when he founded Agúzate, an organization dedicated to the promotion of independent Latin music in Chicago with an emphasis on Afro-Latin culture. Through Agúzate, Omar collaborated and co-curated events with the most distinguished international music programmers in Chicago, including Old Town School of Folk Music, Sound Culture, Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs, and Hothouse.
For over a decade he served as Manager of Language Services at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. This experience was instrumental in his development as an advocate for Latinos and compassionate cross-cultural care for immigrants of all nationalities. Under his leadership, the department doubled in size as he recruited and trained a team of 23 highly-qualified medical interpreters, making it one of the most sophisticated hospital-based language services teams in the nation.
Omar Torres-Kortright currently serves as Executive Director of the Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center (SRBCC). Under his leadership SRBCC has received historic recognition, including the competitive 2017 and 2019 MacArthur International Connections Exchanges. Torres-Kortright is responsible for implementing a new advanced Afro-Caribbean Jazz Apprenticeship program for teens and curating a free monthly celebration of Afro-Latin music and culture that has brought top tier local and internationally-acclaimed artists from Cuba (Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Piñeiro), Dominican Republic (Joan Soriano), Puerto Rico (Miguel Zenón), and Colombia (Gaiteros de San Jacinto) to the recently renovated Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center in Chicago’s Hermosa neighborhood.
Loíza de Jesús
Schweitzer Fellow/Youth Programs
The Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center is hosting a Schweitzer Fellow! This prestigious public health fellowship is designed to allow for the collaborative establishment of a community-based project. SRBCC’s Fellow, Loíza DeJesús, is currently completing a Master of Arts in General Psychology at Roosevelt University. Together, Loíza and SRBCC leadership have worked to create a community-based, culturally rooted, psycho-social intervention for at-risk CPS high school students.
The project will function as a supplement to SRBCC’s existing Music Apprenticeship programs. Youth engaged in the apprenticeships will have the opportunity to participate in peer-support groups, one-on-one mentoring, and skill development, with stipends earned for their time commitment. Youth participants will develop increased self-esteem, build on their coping and life skills, and learn to find and use essential community resources for themselves and others. We intend to expand the program into a wellness-promoters model with youth serving as peer-educators, leaders, and advocates, always in the context of the arts.
Manager of After School Programs
Musical Director, Los Pleneros de Don Segundo and Co-director of The Ruiz Belvis Collective
Michael has dedicated most of his professional life to building community-based education programs focusing on Afro-Latin percussion in Chicago. He founded El Ritmo School of Latin Percussion over a decade ago to teach free weekly percussion classes in the Humboldt Park, Hermosa, and Logan Square. El Ritmo now has a permanent home at Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, a natural partner for the initiative. Michael plays for a number of local bands, including Los Pleneros de Don Segundo, and The Ruiz Belvis Collective.
Afro-Caribbean Jazz Program Director
Musical Director of The Ruiz Belvis Collective
Adrian Ruiz started playing piano at the age of 16 in his high school Jazz Band which is where he discovered his passion for music. He won the Ravinia Jazz Scholar award his junior and senior year in high school.
A student of piano giant Willie Pickens, from The Elvin Jones Jazz Machine, Adrian started playing professionally at the age of 19. His young career includes a 2006 recording with internationally-renowned Chicago trombonist Vincent Gardner.
In the last 10 years, Adrian Ruiz has shared the stage as pianist for the top tier of Salsa and Jazz, including Frank Catalano, Von Freeman, Luis ‘Perico’ Ortiz, Ernie Adams, Frankie Vázquez, Frankie Negrón, Alison Ruble, The Drifters, Tony Vega, Pedrito Martínez, Víctor Miranda, Grammy-Nominated Angel Meléndez and his Mambo 911 Orchestra, and Grammy Winners Roberto Vizcaino, and Raul Pineda.