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Ernesto Cortés Jr.

Ernesto Cortés, Jr. is the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) co-director and executive director of the West / Southwest IAF regional network. After attending an IAF training in Chicago and organizing in Wisconsin and Indiana in the early 1970s, Cortés returned to San Antonio in 1974 to found Communities Organized for Public Service (COPS), the nationally recognized church-based grass roots organization of San Antonio’s west and south side communities. In 1984, he was awarded a MacArthur fellowship, also known as a “genius grant.” In 1996, he was the recipient of an honorary doctoral degree from the University of Houston. In addition, he received the prestigious 4th Annual Heinz Award in Public Policy in 1999 and completed fellowships at the JFK School of Government at Harvard and the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT. He has been awarded honorary degrees from Southern Methodist University, University of St. Edwards in Austin and Rutgers University in New Jersey. In 2009 he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Princeton University.