Lesley Lopez is an educator and tireless advocate in Germantown, Maryland, with experience on the front lines of immigration reform, affordable healthcare and the fight for inclusivity and equality of all people.
She currently serves as the Chief Communications Officer for Run For Something, which recruits and supports young progressives running for state and local office.
“From my mom working as a single mother in those early years, to my dad building a middle class life as a first-generation American -- and my Grandpa Lopez who came this country without documentation and worked like hell to become a U.S. citizen and contribute as a New American -- I know that I’m only here because those before me were willing to work hard and stand up to challenges. As a part of this legacy, I have a responsibility to fight for those who have the same struggles today.”
Most recently, she served as the Director of Communications for the National Immigration Forum and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, where she fought to improve the lives of immigrant families like her own. Ms. Lopez was a journalist for nearly a decade, including stints with ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, BBC, CNN, America's Most Wanted and Eurovision.
Ms. Lopez is also an adjunct professor at George Washington University and is a proud SEIU 500 member. She serves on the Montgomery County Board of Social Services and NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland board, where she works to ensure all Maryland families have access to healthcare resources. She is currently a National Volunteer Partner for Girl Scouts USA and as a domestic violence survivor, has served on the national board of YWCA USA, one of the oldest and largest women's organizations in the nation.
She lives with her significant other, Richard Kelly, and their giant black Labrador, Chevy, in Germantown, Maryland.
Lesley Lopez was born abroad while her mother, Patricia, served on active duty in the U.S Navy. She grew up in southern California, learning the value of hard work from her single mother, who became a public school teacher and reservist, and her supportive grandparents, Bob and Jeanne.
Her grandfather was retired from the Air Force and worked as a janitor at an underserved public school in San Bernardino. Lesley was very close to her grandmother, Jeanne, who also served in the Air Force and was the youngest of nine born to sharecroppers in Dust Bowl-era Oklahoma. From Grandma, Lesley learned some of life’s most important lessons: how to make the best pumpkin bread, to be authentically yourself, and to never be afraid to stand up for what’s right.
It was her grandmother’s passing from lung cancer that helped Lesley find her voice as an advocate for social justice and work to pass a municipal code to get her local outdoor amphitheater smoke-free when she was 16 years old. To pay tribute to her grandmother, Lesley often wears Revlon’s Cherries in the Snow lipstick or nail polish, which was Jeanne’s favorite shade.
Though he arrived a few years into her life, Lesley’s stepdad, Emsley, adopted her and has been a guiding force as her “real dad” every day since. He taught her how to ride a bike and gave her the pep talk she needed to jump off the high dive at the town pool when she was in fourth grade- and still gives her the best pep talks today. Emsley is the first person in the Lopez family born in America and the first to attend college. Emsley was also an officer in the U.S. Navy and went on to work in transportation issues in the private sector.
Lesley is the oldest of three siblings. Her sister, Samantha, is a wedding photographer and poet, raising three beautiful, thoughtful children in Redlands, Calif. Lesley’s brother, Cole, is serving the country as an intelligence specialist in the U.S. Navy.
At the urging of her father, Lesley joined the high school newspaper and quickly discovered a passion for writing. By graduation, the senior class president and features editor was bound for the University of California, at San Diego to pursue a degree in Political Science and Spanish Literature.
As an undergrad, Lesley interned at every media outlet that would accept her. She graduated with a one-way ticket to Washington D.C. and an internship lined up at the Washington Business Journal. Soon after, Lesley became a “crimefighter” as a production assistant at America’s Most Wanted, based in Bethesda. It turned out that dealing with heinous crimes wasn’t her thing, so Lesley went back into hard news and worked as a producer for four years in the European press corp in D.C. She also had the opportunity to work on the production team for ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, which was a thrilling endeavor she will always remember.
Having been inspired by the 2008 Obama for America campaign, Lesley earned her master's degree in Management at the George Washington University and began work as a press secretary for Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX 28) on Capitol Hill. The congressman’s district is 94 percent Hispanic and Lesley found a renewed passion for working on issues that impacted the communities she grew up in.
Lesley was thrilled to have served as the communications director for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, under Reps. Charlie Gonzalez and Ruben Hinojosa. In this position, she coordinated with 27 Hispanic members of the House and Senate, Democratic Leadership, the White House Hispanic Media Office and advocacy groups on important issues like education, the Violence Against Women Act, the Dream Act and the Affordable Care Act. Among the most impactful of those topics was immigration reform.
As the granddaughter of immigrants from the Philippines, Lesley was profoundly moved by the stories of families like her own and was thankful to have been a part of the movement for comprehensive immigration reform by serving as the head of communications for the National Immigration Forum. At the Forum, Lesley was also proud to lead communications efforts for the Bethlehem Project, an integration program that provides resources to employers and employees who may be eligible for citizenship.
When the fight for immigration reform was tamped down by lack of Republican support, Lesley served as the director of communications for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the arm of the Democratic party that works on state legislative races. At the DLCC, Lesley got to see firsthand that some of the most important work was done at state houses across the country.
To better understand the needs of the private sector, Lesley took on the challenge of heading communications and publications at the US-China Business Council, the leading organization for U.S. companies trying to gain market access in China.
She also teaches graduate-level writing at the George Washington University, where she is a proud SEIU 500 member.