At its beginning as Nueva Esperanza Center for Higher Education, Rev. Luis Cortés and President David Black formed an advisory body designed to develop the partnership with both institutions’ best interests in mind.

The College Council has been a policymaking and guiding hand that over the years has led the development of Esperanza College from its initial stages as a program to becoming an established branch campus of Eastern University. Over the years the Council has hired deans who could move this vision forward. In addition, Rev. Danny Cortés has served as Chairman of the Council and is currently Academic Chair of the Eastern University Board of Trustees.

Rev. Danny Cortés

Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff, Esperanza

Reverend Danny Cortés is the Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff at Esperanza, overseeing all educational institutions, workforce development programs, and some administrative function. Over more than a decade at Esperanza, he has also managed the National Programs Department and served as the Chief Administrator at Esperanza Academy. Prior to joining Esperanza’s leadership, he was a program officer at The Pew Charitable Trusts for 10 years. Rev. Cortés has also served as pastor of the First Spanish Baptist Church of Philadelphia. He holds a Master’s degree in divinity from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Rev. Luis Cortés

President and CEO, Esperanza and Founder of Esperanza College

The Reverend Luis Cortés, Jr. and the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity founded Esperanza in 1987. Rev. Cortés has three honorary doctorates, a Master’s degree in divinity from Union Theological Seminary, and a Master’s degree in economic development from Southern New Hampshire University. He has served on many boards, including currently the Cancer Treatment Centers of America Eastern Regional Medical Center and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh. Rev. Cortés has been on advisory committees to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and was featured as one of Time magazine’s “25 Most Influential Evangelicals” in 2005. Rev. Cortés is the author of several books and has won numerous awards for his work.

Dr. Ronald Matthews

President, Eastern University

Dr. Ron Matthews has served in leadership positions in higher education for over 35 years. He served as Executive Director of the Fine and Performing Arts Division and Professor at Eastern University before being appointed Eastern University’s 10th President. Prior to joining Eastern, he served as Director of Choral Activities at Nyack College, Chair of the Department of Music at Cairn University, and several professional and denominational boards and task forces. He has conducted, recorded and performed in France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Switzerland and the Vatican. He has released six recordings. Dr. Matthews did his undergraduate work in Church Music and Organ at Westminster Choir College. He received his Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Temple University and his Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Combs College of Music in Composition with an emphasis in Orchestral Conduction.

Dr. Kenton Sparks

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Eastern University

Dr. Kent Sparks provides leadership for the university’s academic, student affairs, athletics, marketing, and enrollment offices. He has previously served as a professor of Biblical Studies, Vice President for Marketing & Enrollment, Special Assistant to the President, and Assistant Provost. As Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern, he has written books and numerous articles and has served as the regional president for the Society of Biblical Literature. Sparks is an ordained pastor and served on the pastoral staff for a church in Raleigh, NC. Dr. Sparks earned his Master’s degree in Hebrew Bible, his Master’s in Business Administration, and his Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Studies.

J. Pernell Jones

Eastern University Vice President for Finance and Operations, Eastern University

Pernell Jones has nearly three decades of leadership experience in higher education, primarily in New Mexico, his home-state. Jones began his career at Eastern University in July 2011 as Vice President for Finance and Operations. He is the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and the Assistant Treasurer of Eastern University. He also serves as an administrative liaison to the Board of Trustees’ Finance and Property Committee, Audit Committee, Investment Committee, and Compensation Committee. Jones supervises several operations at Eastern, including Accounting, Finance, Purchasing, Plant Operations, Student Accounts, Information Technology and Human Resources. Jones earned his Master’s of Business Administration from Eastern New Mexico University, and his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, with an emphasis in accounting, from College of the Southwest.

Rev. Rubén Ortiz

Rev. Rubén Ortiz has served in ministry for over 30 years. His professional emphasis has been in leadership development, youth ministry, church planting, and community development. He is Director of National Programs at Esperanza, where he oversees various faith initiatives and the Esperanza Youth Leadership Institute, which includes a Christian Ministry degree program with an emphasis in Youth Ministry in partnership with Esperanza College of Eastern University. He was previously Director of Hispanic Engagement for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, where he led volunteer recruitment strategies and partnerships within Hispanic communities. Rev. Ortiz served as City Coordinator for the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative in Philadelphia and planted Iglesia Del Barrio, a bilingual church in the West Kensington, where he served as Senior Pastor for 10 years. At Esperanza, he has been directly responsible for helping build the capacity of over 100 faith and community-based organizations. Rev. Ortiz has a Master’s of Theology from Palmer Theological Seminary. He is former Chairman of Timoteo Inc.’s Board of Directors and Executive Director of Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity and served on the African American and Latino Male Dropout Taskforce at the School District of Philadelphia and Youth Violence Reduction Partnership.

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