Prior to her selection as a National Urban Fellow in the Class of 2014, Norma López managed a Family Resource Center (FRC) in Huntington Beach, California.  She was a highly valued leader in the community, heading a collaborative group of 25 agencies.  As a FRC manager, she managed all grants, established systems to ensure quality services, streamlined processes for service providers, developed new partnerships with community organizations to address service gaps, and was an advocate for creating an inviting center atmosphere for the community.  When the center was faced with major funding cuts, Norma launched the Health Resource Program in partnership with AltaMed Health Center to provide in-home health resources to families. 

As a Program Manager with the Girl Scouts of Orange County, Norma headed the agency’s Latino Initiative.  Her role was to educate the Latino community about the benefits of empowering girls and to train parents to create self-sufficient, sustainable troops.  Within two years, the program expanded to 15 schools with 300 active Girl Scouts and over 100 parent volunteers.  Norma created a Spanish volunteer training program, expanded the Service Unit, and offered new experiential opportunities for Santa Ana girls.

Upon earning a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of La Verne, Norma served two years as a member of the Peace Corps in Panama.   She spearheaded an organic gardening group, a youth-led recycling project, an all-girl soccer team, and a provincial HIV/AIDS conference.  She also served as a liaison between NGOs, governmental agencies and local community leaders.  Peace Corps established Norma’s project management, coalition building and community empowerment skills.

Norma was highly influenced by her parents’ challenging lives as migrant Salvadorans in the United States and her trauma-ridden childhood.  As the eldest child, she was expected to lead by example.   Holding true to her family’s and her own expectations, she carries a sense of responsibility to her community and constantly strives to be a positive role model, take the road less travelled, and, above all, pay it forward.

As a National Urban Fellow, Norma looks forward to acquiring the skills needed to sit at the table where she can voice and influence the decisions being made that affect our youth, families and communities.