Staff spotlight: Jessica Cabán is committed to building futures for rural development


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Jessica Cabán spent the first 30 years of her life in urban Puerto Rico. Since moving to Nebraska in 2019, rural America has come to hold a significant place in her life and heart because of her experiences and observations of the area she now calls home.

Much of her perspective has come from working with the Center for Rural Affairs. Jessica has been a community organizing associate since June 2022 and recently took on the role of loan specialist.

“I saw a compelling opportunity to expand my horizons and make a tangible difference within both the organization and the broader community,” she said. “My desire to serve, particularly those who face vulnerabilities and lack access to necessary resources, has always been a driving force in my career.”

Center Lending Services Director Kim Preston is happy to have Jessica join the team.

“Jessica brings passion and enthusiasm for her communities and entrepreneurs from her previous roles,” Kim said. “She will continue to represent the Center in her best capacity and bring the dream of homeownership and business growth to all of northeast Nebraska.”

Prior to working at the Center, Jessica spent two years at the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce. There, she focused on supporting local businesses and organizations to drive economic growth and community development.

In her previous role with the Center, Jessica frequently encountered individuals eager to launch or enhance their businesses. And as she referred them to the Center’s Lending Services staff, she couldn't shake the feeling of wanting to do more.

“There was a recurring sentiment of wondering about their progress or wishing I could address all their inquiries myself,” said Jessica. “Going after this position was a moment of excitement for me because it presented an opportunity to deepen connections with aspiring entrepreneurs, business owners, and future homeowners, helping them navigate the path to realizing their dreams.”

She is fluent in Spanish and said she is also looking forward to working with the Latino community.

“I am particularly enthusiastic to serve and support the Latino community in accessing the resources they need to thrive,” said Jessica. “I'm eager to leverage my skills and passion in this new role to promote success and empowerment within rural communities in Nebraska.”

As a loan specialist, Jessica’s role encompasses an array of responsibilities focused on supporting small businesses and facilitating homeownership opportunities across the state.

“I am committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within our organization and community, collaborating with colleagues to integrate these principles into our daily practices,” she said.

Jessica says her time in Nebraska has exposed her to the evolving demographics and expanding communities in rural areas. She has come to recognize the pressing need for cultural competency, leadership development, and inclusive community development strategies to support these changing landscapes effectively.

“I deeply appreciate the inherent qualities of rural life, including its slower pace and sense of safety and security,” she said. “I'm inspired by the wealth of economic opportunities present in rural areas, ranging from stable, well-paying jobs to the abundance of prospects for entrepreneurship and business ventures. It's this dynamic blend of opportunities and challenges that fuels my commitment to contributing positively to rural communities.”

She also strongly believes in the power of ongoing education and development to enhance her skills and effectiveness in serving others.

“I am dedicated to expanding my knowledge base and refining my abilities to better support the individuals and communities I serve,” said Jessica. “This dedication to growth aligns seamlessly with my passion for making a positive impact and driving meaningful change.”

Family is another driving force in Jessica’s life, and she feels fortunate to have her mother, along with four of her younger siblings and her nephew, living in Nebraska.

“Spending quality time with them is one of my greatest joys, whether we're exploring the beauty of Nebraska or coming together to cook traditional Puerto Rican dishes,” Jessica said. “My family is the cornerstone of my life, and I take great pride in being the eldest sister, guiding and empowering my siblings to pursue their dreams.”

In her free time, she enjoys hobbies like reading, traveling, and personal styling, and finds immense fulfillment in giving back to her community through volunteer work with local organizations. As a devout Christian, Jessica seeks community and spiritual fulfillment at her local church in Columbus.

Jessica’s work is based out of Columbus. In addition, she spends Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Center’s satellite office, 1119 B St., in Schuyler. Reach her at 402.942.1113 or