Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas, and have spent my entire life in this community. I graduated from Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools and graduated college from Rockhurst University. I completed my Masters Degree in New York City from the Bernard M. Baruch College through the National Urban Fellows Program.
What is your family heritage?
Both of my parents are from Mexico; My father is from Torreon, Coahuila and my mother is from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. I am a proud son of Mexican immigrant parents, Francisco and Guadalupe Lopez.
What is your occupation?
I am currently the Vice President of Community Programs for the Wyandotte Health Foundation. I also serve as the President of the Board of Education for the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools (USD 500).
How have you supported or contributed to the local Hispanic/Latinx community?
I am Mexican-American; my culture, ethnicity, traditions, and heritage have always been important to me and my family. It is part of my identity. Within that exists the value of service and giving back. I believe it is our responsibility to each other to find ways to give back to our community and be authentically present in our community. I serve as a mentor for youth in a variety of settings; volunteering for organizations such as the Greater Kansas City Hispanic Development Fund which provides opportunities for Latino families in our community, specifically around college access and scholarships. In 2018, I was recognized and received the NFL's and the Kansas City Chiefs' Hispanic Leadership Award, which was presented to me during the home opener that season. I give my time and resources to help advocate for issues that affect and impact our Hispanic community in order to help provide opportunities that were also provided for me. As the first Latino elected onto the KCK Board of Education, I serve as an example for our community; the strength in our collective voice. It is important that we work together to lift up the community voice and work to make a positive difference in our community.
How do you connect with your Hispanic/Latinx culture?
Family. I love spending time with my parents and hearing stories about our culture and background and learning more about the traditions and history that we are rooted in. I also spend a lot of time working with our Latino community in Kansas City, listening to students and families about their stories and learning from them. Being actively engaged in the rich diversity of cultures in the Kansas City metro keeps me connected to my culture; and being able to share my culture with others is a way that I can grow more connected to my roots.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
So many to choose from; the food, the Saturday morning music, the beautiful and traditional quinceneras.... but I always remember the family vacations with my parents and siblings as we took a road trip to Mexico to visit family. The memories of those road trips, it evokes all the senses and takes me back to those moments that I was able to share with my family as we drove to my parent's home cities to see my family. This is a tradition that I still keep, driving to Mexico with my parents when time allows to visit family.
What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
It's a time to celebrate the beautiful cultures that we represent...How amazing and beautiful our culture is and how blessed I am to have the background, roots, and history that I am a part of. It is a time of reflection on our beautiful past, and look forward to the potential that the future holds. It's a time to learn more about our history, our roots and to share that with our community.
In your opinion, what is the most important issue facing the Hispanic/Latinx community?
There are so many issues pressing our Latino community both short term and long term. For instance, right now, we need to make sure our community fills out the census, as that is something that will impact us all for generations. Additionally, the importance of registering to vote and then actually voting (for those that are eligible). But like all communities, issues such as access to quality education for our families continues to be important, as does employment and housing...all of which impact the health of our community. If we don't have access to these things, individually and collectively we hurt. We need to push for healthcare reform as well and immigration reform. The one thing that these all have in common is the push for social justice which affects all communities. WE are in this together.