Staff spotlight: Jessica Cabán creates impact in rural communities through compassion

Small Towns

Seeing Center for Rural Affairs staff members in action at events around her community and around the state motivated Jessica Cabán to learn more about the organization. The Center’s mission and values inspired her to join the team.
Recently hired as a community organizing associate, Jessica works with emerging and existing rural community leaders, groups, and organizations to build and foster inclusion, welcoming, and intercultural development in their spaces.
Jessica serves central Nebraska by helping set up and carry out community workshops and activities for community members and businesses, as well as building relationships focused on community development, economic development, community engagement, immigrant advocacy, and leadership development.
Previously, Jessica worked with the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, where she had the opportunity to act alongside many individuals in different capacities, which is similar to her position with the Center, now just on a larger scale.
Nina Lanuza, senior community organizing associate with the Center, feels Jessica is a great addition to the Center team.
“She comes to us with a lot of experience in program management, event coordination, and business administration, as well as community and workforce development,” said Nina. “She has the passion necessary to help a community succeed, she’s outgoing, a good team player, and has many talents and skills.”
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Jessica moved to Nebraska three years ago to be closer to her mother and younger siblings.
“There is so much geographic diversity in Puerto Rico, though rural communities make up a large part of the island,” she said. “Living in Nebraska has shown me the impact of agriculture and how it is so crucial to the sustainability of rural communities; from employment creation to providing inexpensive and safe food for our country. I love having access to natural resources and beautiful recreational areas, and appreciate the simpler pace of life, safety, and security rural places offer.”
She brings that love of rural places to her role with the Center.
“I feel so fortunate to be part of an organization that focuses on establishing strong rural communities, and I love the idea of using the skills and relationships I've built to complement the Center's programs,” Jessica said.
The community organizing associate also hopes to tie in her interest in psychology, which she studied in college.
“Understanding the intersectionality of human experience, behaviors, and emotions is another one of my passions,” Jessica said. “That is why diversity, equity, and inclusion work is so meaningful to me.”
Overall, Jessica hopes to do whatever she can to help better the lives of rural Americans.
“My goal is to create an impact in rural communities through my passion for serving and leading others toward self-awareness and compassion,” she said. “I hope I can successfully facilitate meaningful work around inclusion to help rural communities continue to grow and become more welcoming and equitable.”
Jessica can be reached at the Center’s office in Schuyler, Nebraska, at 402.942.1113 or

Learn more about Jessica Cabán on our blog.