Port Chester Woman Dubbed 'A Rising Star' For Public Activism

From Peru to Port Chester, Blanca Lopez has accumulated life experience and a resume that earned her recognition by the Business Council of Westchester.

As an eight-year-old girl, Blanca Lopez left the familiarity of her native Peru when her family immigrated to the U.S., settling first in Rye and eventually in Port Chester. 

Lopez knows what it's like to arrive in a new country, with all the challenges of adjusting to a new language and culture. As an adult, her childhood experience helps her relate to recent immigrants who are trying to find their way in a strange new country.

Lopez, 35, a community activist and school board member in Port Chester, was honored recently as a "Rising Star" by the Business Council of Westchester. She was nominated by Andrea Kocsis, executive director of Human Development Services of Westchester.

The council named "40 Under 40 Rising Stars," a diverse group that includes sharp financial minds, tireless volunteers, dedicated educators and advocates for local arts and music. The 40 honorees were feted at a June 9 celebration in Purchase.

As a former congressional staffer for Rep. Nita Lowey and former campaign manager for Port Chester Mayor Dennis Pilla, Lopez has experience in public policy and local politics. Her resume also includes prominent current positions -- Lopez sits on Port Chester's Board of Education and is director of neighborhood preservation at Human Development Services of Westchester.

Lopez was the first Latina elected to public office in Port Chester, and her work for Lowey put her in a position to advocate for the urban community on issues like immigration and housing.

Although awards and recognition were the furthest things from her mind when she began her career as an activist, Lopez says "it's quite an honor."

“I was very humbled and excited,” she said of hearing the news.

Lopez’s roots began in Lima, Peru. After about a decade living in Rye, her family moved to Port Chester around the time Lopez began college studies.

Majoring in Latin American and Latino Studies during her undergraduate career at Fordham University, she decided to work at National Council of La Raza, in Washington, D.C., before going on to graduate school. Specializing in policy and civil rights, Lopez developed her passion for her advocacy work.

“I got my feet wet in social issues, not only with immigrants, but with Latino and Latino born citizens in this country,” she said. 

After completing her masters degree in urban policystudies and management at the New University, she went to work for Lowey in 2002 as a community affairs representative. Lopez specialized in housing and immigration, serving as a go-between for Lowey and her constituents. She accomplished this mainly by communicating and discussing issues within the community, issues ranging from veteran affairs to housing. She said her focus on the urban community was of great importance, especially since she often times had the opportunity to talk to people from those neighborhoods and listen to what they had to say.

“Working for Lowey opened doors for me, especially for learning about volunteering, getting to know great people and networking,” she said.

The two-and-a-half years she spent working for the congresswoman helped her get to know her community and the issues its people face.

Today, Lopez works for the Human Development Services of Westchester, which provides low-income housing for people of all backgrounds.  The non-profit organization helps more than a thousand people every year.

For more information regarding the ceremony, visit www.westchesterny.org.


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Greg Tart June 29, 2011 at 05:28 PM
Very Good Aidan. You are right. The Democrats are like this fable: Voter: I might shop more in Port Chester. But many residents are undocumented, and have not insurance. Democrat: Racist, Bigot Voter: But you don't understand- If there is an accident.... Democrat: Let me run out and start a non profit to study the problem of racism....
Rick June 30, 2011 at 12:42 AM
Sue, I'm sorry that if you sold your home you would have a huge loss. This is not a Port Chester problem as much as you might think. The housing market was bound to correct itself sooner or later, just like the Stock market did a few years ago. The problem will correct itself in time as time has prov-en it. When my wife and i brought our home in the early eighties we were stretched to make the payments each month due to the wages that we were earning then.Then you have the home prices raise to a three bedroom nice home going for over $550000.It had to stop raising and hit a wall. Yes the home prices in Greenwich ,Rye and Harrison have fallen also.Get the banks to give out loans to people in the amounts that they can afford, and stop giving the funds out to bail out other banks bad loan dept. If you brought your home when the prices were threw the roof, you should have known it had to stop sooner or later. The housing price boom was the only thing holding up the economy now it also has fallen.
Blanca Lopez August 11, 2011 at 02:39 AM
The Mother: Here and there ,we find people that uses a public window to write what they have in their minds.Sorry that few of them only have hate and hate is what the give to the others. I pray for them. I feel very proud and happy for Ms, Lopez for her success in life. WAY TO GO GIRL!
dc August 11, 2011 at 04:26 PM
Beware of Lopez - her goal is rid the village of all the true Americans that remain and turn the village into the next Mexico - well we are heading in that direction are we not? We have politicos like Terrenzi who for some reason are swayed into the Lopez trap and swoon at her requests. Be very wary of this women!! And now that she has been elected President of the school board her ultimate goal is to eliminat classes being taught in English and entirely in spanish. Also she is in the pocket of the teachers union. Hold on to your wallets taxpayers the worst is yet to come.
Blanca Lopez August 12, 2011 at 02:21 AM
- The Mother --It must be very,very hard for"dc" to see a very well prepared lady like MS. Lopez shine under the spot light. I still pray for you.


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