MacArthur Fellows Program

Ernesto J. Cortes Jr.

Community Organizer | Class of March 1984

Title
Community Organizer
Location
Weslaco, Texas
Age
41 at time of award
Published March 1, 1984

About Ernesto's Work

Ernesto Cortes is an organizational strategist who works with citizens’ groups, religious denominations, and labor unions to increase their participation in the political process at the community level.

As a community organizer, he establishes neighborhood groups and teaches them how to deal effectively with utility companies, city governments, and social and economic problems, such as unemployment, health care, and affordable housing.  He has also helped poor people to develop their leadership skills.  He has organized community movements in several cities, including Houston, El Paso, Fort Worth, East Los Angeles, Gary, and East Chicago.

Biography

Cortes is a founder of the San Antonio Communities Organized for Public Service, the United Neighborhood Organization in Los Angeles, and the Metropolitan Organization in Houston.  He is based in Los Angeles as southwest regional director of the Industrial Areas Foundation, a group that carries out and expands on the work of Saul Alinsky.  At the Foundation, he guides the efforts of community organizations in Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Louisiana, Nebraska, and Iowa.

Cortes received a B.A. (1963) from Texas A & M University and did graduate work at the University of Texas.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

Select News Coverage of Ernesto J. Cortes Jr.
April 19, 2017
“Ernesto Cortes “Rules for Radicals in the 21st Century””
Graduate School of Social Work - University of Denver
Ernesto J. Cortes Jr. , 1984 MacArthur Fellow
March 15, 2014
"Master Organizer Ernesto Cortes, Jr on Relational Meetings"
Industrial Areas Foundation
Ernesto J. Cortes Jr. , 1984 MacArthur Fellow
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