Co-Founder & Director of Coffee Operations
Back of the Yards Coffee Co.
Born to Mexican immigrants from Jalisco, Jesse Iñiguez is the Co-Founder of Back of the Yards Coffee Co. a woman- and minority-owned coffee company located in Chicago's southwest side and one of the few Latinx owned coffee companies in the country. A lifelong resident of Back of the Yards, Jesse is no stranger to the pervasive needs of Chicago's black and brown communities and the lack of resources to address them. As a business owner, active community member, and parent to Academy for Global Citizenship students, he is excited to contribute his skills and experience as a Founding Board Member of the Cultivate Collective.
In 1999, as a freshman in college, he walked into a coffee shop for the very first time, and quickly understood the value that something like that could have in his community. That is why, in 2016, he and his partner decided to open up a specialty coffee company in Back of the Yards in order to create a profitable and sustainable business model that would not only provide a much-needed safe space for his community, but that would create jobs, stimulate the local economy and create real social impact.
In the short time the company has been around, it has proven that having a social mission isn't just good for the soul, but it's good for business. Since the creation of the coffee company, he and the shop have been on the cover of industry magazines, have been featured on multiple media stories, both national and local, have been awarded multiple grants and awards, and were recently featured as "Hispanic Heroes" for a national campaign. In 2018, Jesse was the recipient of the BMW Ultimate Drive Award. You can find his coffee in grocery stores and other coffee shops and restaurants in the Chicago area and is currently working on expanding nationwide.
Kris De la Torre
Academy for Global Citizenship
Kris De la Torre (she/her) is the Sustainability Coordinator at the Academy for Global Citizenship. Previously, she facilitated a Critical Participatory Action Research initiative with Advocates for Urban Agriculture that emphasized equitable funding distribution and financial fluency for BIPOC farmers. Kris spent five years working for the Chicago Botanic Garden as a coordinator for transitional jobs and youth development programs. She has stewarded land in rural and urban settings to grow and maintain a diversity of fruits, vegetables and livestock. Kris received her M. Ed. in Human Development & Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, a Certificate in Culinary Nutrition from The Natural Gourmet Institute in New York, NY and a BA in Museum Education & Spanish from Lake Forest College.
Her work in sustainability, experiential education and social justice has taken her to over 15 countries. Through travel and a deep connection to her Mexican ancestry, she brings a global lens to facilitate nuanced conversations that build a joyful, collective vision, even in the midst of a trans-apocalyptic world. She hopes to shape and support the Cultivate Collective by centering racial justice and authentic community engagement.
Deputy Commissioner, Programming
Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (City of Chicago)
Nancy Villafranca-Guzman has over twenty years of experience in the art, culture and education fields. She joined the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) in 2021 as their Deputy Commissioner for Programming. Prior to her arrival at DCASE, she was the Vice President for Education and Engagement at the Chicago History Museum where she oversaw the Museum’s school and public programs and initiatives and the visitor engagement teams. From 2015-16, she was also the Chicago office Director of the Inter-University Program for Latino Research (IUPLR), a national Latino research consortium headquartered at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
As Director of Education at the National Museum of Mexican Art, a position she held for almost ten years, Nancy led a team of educators and artists, and guided the development of museum-based curriculum for cultural understanding and launched many of the Museum’s long-standing arts education programs. Nancy also taught Social Science and Humanities in two Chicago public schools. She received her undergraduate degree in Secondary Education from DePaul University and her Master’s Degree in Instructional Leadership from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Nancy recently completed a second Master of Art in Museum and Exhibition Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
She is a first generation Chicagoan and Mexican-American, a southwest side community member, and a mother of two wonderful children who experienced first hand a well-rounded education at the Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) since 2008. While remaining an active parent at AGC, she volunteered in various capacities including as President of the Community Council from 2014-2016.
Alumnus, Academy for Global Citizenship
Aerospace Engineering, University of Michigan (Class of 2024)
Born and raised on Chicago's southwest side near the Cultivate Collective community hub, Nathan is excited to lend his voice and passion as a Founding Board Member. As a member of the Academy for Global Citizenship's first graduating class, Nathan developed a lifelong love for learning and is currently pursuing his degree in Aeropspace Engineering at the University of Michigan. While at AGC, Nathan could be found under the solar energy learning lab and demonstration wind turbine in the school's playground which contributed to his curiosity and interest in STEM.
Nathan is the Injector Lead on Michigan Aeronautical Science Association (MASA), a collegiate rocketry team that focuses on developing bipropellant liquid rockets. Nathan led the design, analysis, and testing of MASA’s injector, while also developing Piping and Instrumentation Diagrams and ground support equipment for engine testing. As an older brother to two more AGC graduates pursuing STEM fields, Nathan believes in the power of education for cultivating a thriving future generation.
La Selva Shop
As a member of the Garfield Ridge community for the past ten years and as a local business owner, Rolando is excited to be part of the Cultivate Collective's Founding Board as he is committed to addressing the needs of our community and ensuring environmentally friendly options for future generations. Rolando is happy to have a public school like the Academy for Global Citizenship so close to his home that provides an opportunity to educate our children about saving the environment around us. In addition to being an artist, Rolando is the the owner of La Selva Shop, a unique product line of clothing and accessories that started with the intentions embracing community pride in the Back of the Yards and southwest side of Chicago.
Rolando has been an active member in the community since his teenage years. He started at Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish as a muralist, musician, graphic designer, web designer, mentor, art teacher and a parish council member. During his high school years, he was commissioned to paint murals in the gymnasium of Seward Academy and exterior walls of the Holy Cross/IHM Parish Youth Center and community garden. Rolando holds a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts Multimedia Production and Design / Computer Graphics (BFA) from the International Academy of Design and Technology.
Rolando is also a mentor and leader in the community. He is a member of The Peace and Education Coalition (PEC), a coalition that develops leaders and fosters neighborhood networks that promote education, strengthen families, and build peace. He has contributed in judging scholarship recipients for the Back of the Yards Dreamers and Allies Run Scholarship Fund and the Peace and Education Coalition Scholarship Fund.
Rolando is a member of Padrinos, an organization that helps raise funds for after school programs in obtaining resources for the children of the Back of the Yards. Rolando is also a committee member of the Back of the Yards Dia de los Muertos Celebration, a community-led organization that produces the Day of the Dead festivities that brings art and culture to the community.
Sarah Elizabeth Ippel
Founder & Executive Director
Academy for Global Citizenship
Sarah Elizabeth has had the honor of working hand-in-hand with Chicago's southwest side community members, families, and local leaders since 2005. Since founding a local community-based, non-profit organization (the Academy for Global Citizenship) seventeen years ago, she has had the opportunity to collaborate with local voices who have together created a vision for the Cultivate Collective's community learning, sustainability and wellness hub.
Today, the Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC) is collaboratively led by a Latino Director of Early Childhood Learning, a Hispanic Lower School Principal, and Latina Upper School Principal, who have cumulatively been part of AGC's journey for over 30 years. As the founding team has grown to over sixty-five colleagues, it has been central to AGC's mission to cultivate a faculty and staff that is representative of the 96% minority community that they serve. Over 85% of AGC's faculty and staff either live directly in the community, grew up in the community, are bilingual, and/or ethnically reflect AGC's constituents. Many of these voices have been instrumental in collaborating with neighborhood leaders to collectively lend their hopes and dreams that has laid the foundation for Cultivate Collective's mission to grow resilient, equitable and vibrant communities from within. AGC’s history of working hand-in-hand with Chicago’s southwest communities for nearly two decades and proven track record through community-led frameworks has laid the foundation for Cultivate Chicago and will continue to inform the Collective's social justice-centered approach. It is imperative to Cultivate's mission that both the vision for the future and the programs today are shaped by and tailored to the unique challenges, opportunities and voices within the community and believe that a community-led organization best positions our model to remain place-based and locally informed.
Since earning a Masters of Philosophy from the University of Cambridge in England at 21, Sarah Elizabeth has traveled to over 100 countries across six continents, extensively immersing herself in educational philosophies and world languages, as well as creating international alliances that have informed the design and culture of the Academy for Global Citizenship. In addition to studying the application of successful educational frameworks in various cultural contexts across the globe, Sarah Elizabeth served as Vice President of Education on the governing board of the United Nations Association, where she fostered the broader implementation of The Growing Connection, an organic gardening initiative established to cross-culturally connect children and educators across continents through technology. Sarah Elizabeth has further completed studies in Nonprofit Management at Harvard Business School. When she is not traveling around the world, speaking about the Academy for Global Citizenship’s vision for systemic change, Sarah Elizabeth enjoys honing her skills as an urban farmer and beekeeper.