Educator promoting the development of Latina social workers
For four decades Dr. Lopez worked as a social worker, educator and activist promoting culturally relevant social work education and practice and fighting for social justice and women’s rights. As one of the first Latino female graduates of the USC School of Social Work, she advocated for teaching opportunities for Latinos within the school. She was co-founder of a committee within Trabajadores De La Raza that challenged admission policies and lack of recruitment and enrollment of minority students, especially Latino students, at USC and UCLA graduate schools.
Dr. Lopez served on the first board of directors for the newly established El Centro, the first Los Angeles community agency designed to provide culturally relevant social services to the Latino community, as well as provide field placements offering culturally sensitive training in graduate social work education. In her position as a board member and chairperson of the curriculum and training committee, she helped guide development of the agency into a national model for providing services to the Latino community. She conducted the first medical social work research at the Los Angeles County Department of Health focusing on the unmet needs of the East Los Angeles immigrant community. She served as a consultant to the Los Angeles County Department of Adoptions in the development of its Chicano unit, which specialized in the placement of Latino children with Latino families.
Lopez was a co-founder of Las Comadres, a support group by Latinas for Latinas that provided leadership training and mentoring for Latina MSWs, many of whom became high-level leaders and administrators in public and private agencies throughout Los Angeles and beyond. She was also a co-founder of the California Latino Social Work Network where she headed the Los Angeles affiliates curriculum and program committee. For many years, she mentored USC social work graduates and alumni in informal meetings at her home.
During her tenure at Cal Poly Pomona, as well as after her retirement, Lopez continued to promote development and support of organizations both locally and nationally that encouraged enrollment in college and the pursuit of advanced degrees for Latinos. Her professional career was devoted to social work causes and professional education.