Ella Fontanals-Cisneros has been contributing to a humanitarian vision and environmentally conscious perspectives of the world since she was a teenager. Her father died shortly after she fled with her family from Cuba to Venezuela when Fontanals-Cisneros was 16. So she took her first job teaching English and, on the side, began offering water ballet lessons to her students. She soon discovered that water ballet was more lucrative.

“It was my first entrepreneurial thing,” she said in a 2007 interview for W magazine. It set a tone for her future endeavors as a high fashion boutique owner, raw materials exporter and Manhattan high-end apartment flipper, all of which preceded her career of collecting modern art and making it accessible to the public.

Sharing art with the public by,

“giving them the opportunity to learn about the artist’s work; access to educational projects; access to educational projects with kids/families, and world-class exhibitions in the CIFO art space at no cost to the viewing public,” Fontanals-Cisneros said, “is what I give to our community—contributing to the expansion of Latin American culture.”

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