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, the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and Hothouse.
After extensive management experience in the field of Language Services in healthcare with Lurie Children’s Hospital (2004-2015), he decided to work more closely with the Puerto Rican community and the cultural sector. He joined SRBCC as Executive Director in 2015 after serving five years on the Board of Directors. Torres-Kortright is a product of the center, going from music student, to volunteer, Board member, and now Executive Director.
Under Torres-Kortright’s leadership, with the organization facing significant challenges in Chicago and Puerto Rico, SRBCC created the Chicago Hurricane Aid for Puerto Rican Arts, served as leading organization and fiscal sponsor for the Puerto Rican Agenda’s 3R’s for PR Campaign (Rescue, Relief, Rebuild), produced the Abrazo Virtual Series to keep arts in the community alive during the pandemic, and earned the prestigious MacArthur International Connections Fund award in 2016 and 2019, as well as Chicago Cultural Treasures in 2021. This 2021 new funding allowed SRBCC to make significant improvements to its home base in Hermosa and launch a brand new series of arts apprenticeships for youth ages 14-24 , as well as hight impact and career-changing opportunities for profesional artists of color, through artist-in-residence and international exchange programs. Omar currently sits on the Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Council and is part of the 2022 Chicago Peace Fellows cohort.
José Guzmán Borrero
Manager of Programs and Community Engagement
José Guzmán Borrero, a native of Ponce, Puerto Rico, is a multi-genre guitarist who has performed with jazz ensembles, chamber groups, and rock bands. As a jazz guitarist, he has recorded on albums by Dimijtre, Vasiljevic (released on Rope a Dope Records), KASA String Quartet, and Mr. Chair’s Better Days. He leads the Latin jazz group, The Afro-Caribbean Jazz Collective, which has released several albums on Spotify. Guzmán has performed as an artist in residence at the Caroga Lake Music Festival as both a classical and jazz guitarist. He has received grants from the city of Chicago’s Department of Culture and Special Events, Urbana Arts, and the Mykytyn Composition Award for his composition “Isochronal: A Suite for Big Band.”
He holds an undergraduate degree from the Puerto Rico Conservatory in Jazz Guitar and Afro-Caribbean Music, a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in Theory and Composition, and a doctorate degree (DMA) from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in Jazz Guitar Performance with a minor in Composition.
A native Venezuelan, Norma Nuñez-Ruch brings over two decades of dedicated involvement with programs and organizations that secure equal access to creative youth development, embodying a profound understanding of their philosophy, mission, and vision.
Fluent in both Spanish and English, Norma holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies and a Master’s in Cultural Management.
She stands out as a trailblazer, being the first Venezuelan recipient of the Ford Motor Company International Fellow of the 92nd Street Y in 2011, and a graduate of the 2018 Cohort of the Global Leaders Program, an innovative nine-month professional certificate in Civic Leadership, Teaching Artistry, Cultural Agency, and Social Entrepreneurship.
The impact of her work has been extensive, as she has held pivotal roles in renowned organizations including Fundamusical Simón Bolivar (Venezuela), Grupo Concertante Talía (Spain), Allentown Symphony Association, and Ravinia Festival Association (USA). Emphasizing her commitment to transforming lives through music and civic leadership, Norma has served in several Boards of Directors as both member and consultant, such as the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Arts in Pennsylvania, and the Ismael Cala Foundation, in Florida.
Currently, Norma serves as Manager of Operations at Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, the longest-standing Latino cultural center in Chicago, Illinois, as her focus and commitment remains on creating vibrant and nurturing environments for youth development through community engagement, artistic performances, and cultural exchanges.
Born and raised in San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, Wendy Navarro has been working in the customer service field in Chicago for over two decades. Wendy is energetic and passionate about the work of local non-profits, and has extensive experience in coordinating and supporting operations for grassroots organizations. She joined the SRBCC team in January 2023.
Brittany is a teaching artist with a background in building, supporting, and leading programming in green spaces centering community vision, needs and interests. She has over nineteen years of hands-on experiential education work. She thinks that nature and art go hand in hand in a way to help us get to know ourselves, one another and the world around us more deeply. She enjoys building and working towards goals on teams that can continue to live on and thrive for years to come.
She holds a Bachelors of Arts Degree Geography and Environmental Studies Degree from Northeastern Illinois University with an Education Concentration, and a Master of Urban Farming Certification from the University of Illinois Extension.
Quincy Raggs has been a cultural worker preserving and promoting consciousness of various art forms of the African diaspora for over 15 years in Chicago. He is a proud active member of Chicago based cultural centers and groups which promote Afro-Cuban religious and secular music, Bomba, Plena, Rumba, Capoeira (and everything in between).
Musical Director of SRBCC’s La Cantera
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 15 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.
Víctor M. Montañez
Victor M. Montañez is a life long artist. He has been involved in the Chicago cultural scene since the mid 1980’s and before that in East LA’s Boyle Heights.
He reaches out across Chicagoland promoting Latino cultural wealth through student leadership mural academies, teacher leadership workshops, art exhibits and live art and music.
He chaired the inaugural Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival’s artists recruitment committee, the Little Village Arts Festival, Albany Park’s People’s art festival, and was a key organizer of The Midwest Lowriders’ Celebration of Culture for two decades for which he was featured on HBO’s Latino Life in the United States.