Reverend Luis Cortés, Jr. 
Founder and CEO of Esperanza

The Reverend Luis Cortés, Jr. is the Founder and CEO of Esperanza, a leading Hispanic faith-based Evangelical network in the United States. Driven by the biblical mandate to serve and advocate for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40), Esperanza strengthens Hispanic communities and all those who live within them. Rev. Cortés founded Esperanza in 1986, with support from the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia. Today, Esperanza has grown into one of the prominent voices for Latinos in America. 

Leading what began as a local initiative, with programs targeted to address the unmet needs of Philadelphia’s Latino community, Rev. Cortés is now sought by national and international leaders alike on issues of economic and workforce development, housing, immigration, and education. Under his leadership, Esperanza has grown from a one-person operation to more than 600 employees and $70M in operations across a family of institutions and programs, all focused on building an “opportunity community” in Hunting Park by providing avenues for education, jobs and affordable housing. 

Raised in Spanish Harlem, Rev. Cortés credits his childhood experiences, a stable family life and the Latino faith community for his commitment and determination to improve the conditions of the broader community. His life’s work is dedicated to empowering others to acquire a solid education and economic stability. 

The author of five books and appearing on several national and local television, radio, and print media outlets, Reverend Cortés has been listed as one of Time magazine’s 25 Most Influential Evangelicals and was a 2019 recipient of the Philadelphia Award. Rev. Cortés presented the Invocation Prayer at the 2013 Inauguration Luncheon for President Barak Obama and has participated in White House roundtables under President George W. Bush. 

Rev. Cortés has served on numerous boards dealing with finance, banking, religion, health, and education. Currently, he is a board member of the Philadelphia Orchestra and Kimmel Center, Inc, Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia, and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.

In 2016, Rev. Luis Cortés was chosen by the Urban Institute as one of 24 of the nation’s leading experts, advocates, and academics from across the country for the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty, in recognition of Esperanza as a model in addressing poverty. 

Rev. Cortés graduated with honors from City College, NY, earned a Master of Divinity as an Urban Theology Fellow from Union Theological Seminary, and a master’s degree in Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University. He is a Senior Nonresident Fellow for the Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society at the University of Pennsylvania.