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Sam Fiorello


Sam Fiorello is the President and CEO of the Cortex Innovation Community. Home to over 400 companies and support organizations that employ more than 6,000 people, Cortex is an innovation community strategically built around the idea that working together is the only way to tackle big problems. To help address the grand problems, Cortex serves as a catalyst for innovation that brings together big-thinking problem solvers with state-of-the-art resources, facilities, and innovative programming to inspire and drive collaboration.

Mr. Fiorello’s areas of focus for Cortex includes a greater emphasis on equality, diversity, and inclusion, job creation, and further investments in our community. The Cortex Innovation Community has been cited by the Brookings Institution and the Global Institute of Innovation Districts as a “best practice among urban innovation districts.”

Before joining Cortex, Sam spent over two decades at the Donald Danforth Plant and Science Center, where he served as Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance. His involvement in the Danforth Center started while at Monsanto when he was tasked with helping to formulate the plan that would eventually lead to the establishment of the Center. Under his leadership, the Danforth Plant Science Center grew to become the world’s largest independent research institute focused on plant science.

Since 2008 Sam also served as the President of the Bio Research & Development Growth Park (BRDG), the Danforth Center’s affiliated research park focused on ag-tech companies from start-up to growth phase to divisions of large multinationals. During this period Sam also founded the Ag Innovation Showcase, an annual ag-tech innovation conference that became an industry gold standard.

Before moving to the Danforth Center, Sam worked at Monsanto Company. While at Monsanto, Sam worked on international public-private partnerships in places like Brazil, India, Indonesia, and other parts of Southeast Asia. His success in creating public-private partnerships helped develop and hone skills that would be invaluable for his later work at the Danforth Center, BRDG Park, and now at Cortex.

Sam was born in Madison, Wisconsin, and is a first-generation Italian American. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Business from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s degree in public administration from the Lyndon B Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas.

Sam and his wife Rebecca have three children, Graham, Max and Audrey, and dog named Daisy.

Arts and cultural events are waiting around every corner throughout the St. Louis region. Explore the abundant creativity our area has to offer. From gallery shows and performances to public installations, St. Louis is rich with culture and the arts in all forms. Browse these links to experience our arts community firsthand.


Due to the ongoing financial impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Regional Arts Commission (RAC) has been working diligently to adjust our annual grantmaking programs to ensure alignment with RAC’s strategic priorities, and in response to feedback from the arts community.


We have gathered a variety of news, information, and other resources to sustain the health and vibrancy of our arts community.


As the leading public catalyst for arts and culture in St. Louis, the Regional Arts Commission leverages the power of creativity to strengthen and enrich our community. Read our commitment to diversity, racial equity, accessibility, and inclusion, and see our strategic plan for the next five years.


Covid-19 has impacted us all. But what it hasn’t changed is RAC’s commitment to finding innovative ways to support arts programming, arts organizations, and individual artists through the pandemic, and to resuming these programs as soon as conditions allow.


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