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Nick Lopez along with his wife and two sons standing in front of snow covered mountainsA 1998 graduate of South High School selected by the National Hispanic Institute as its 2022 Person of the Year has been named the President and CEO of one of the oldest Hispanic and Latino organizations in the nation, the Latin American Educational Foundation.
Nick Lopez is a well known name within the human services and nonprofit sectors, formerly holding prominent positions at the University of Denver, the University of Chicago, and the Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation.
A first-generation college student, Mr. Lopez earned a Master’s of Science in Public Service Management from DePaul University before going on to serve as Vice President of Advancement and Marketing for Volunteers for America Colorado.
The Latin American Educational Foundation, based in Denver, is a scholarship-awarding nonprofit that supports Hispanic students across the state.
Throughout his career, Mr. Lopez has championed diversity and inclusiveness, giving back to the Hispanic community and strongly supporting the National Hispanic Institute while promoting higher education and leadership.
It was at South that Mr. Lopez honed his leadership skills and developed a passion for serving others.
Foreshadowing his association with the National Hispanic Institute, Mr. Lopez completed the Institute’s Great Debate: a communications and leadership development program for high-achieving, high-ability freshmen who aspire to community and civic leadership roles in the future.
He also completed the Institute’s Lorenzo de Zavala Youth. Legislative Session for sophomores and juniors.
During this time, Mr. Lopez became acquainted with Ernesto Nieto, President and Founder of the National Hispanic Institute, who became a mentor and lifelong friend.
“It was his belief in my character and abilities to be a thoughtful community leader that has inspired and motivated me as I pursued philanthropy and non-profit service as my professional and personal calling,” Mr. Lopez said of Mr. Nieto. “I cherish the privilege to influence and shape the lives of young people in Colorado through the mission of LAEF, just as Ernesto did for me.”
Through active participation in South’s Key Club, Mr. Lopez gained invaluable exposure to community service and non-profit work.
Key Club, however, was but one of his pursuits.
This multi-faceted Colt earned four letters in cross country and track, twice qualifying for state in cross country. As a member of South’s Knowledge and Science Bowl teams, he earned state championships in both.
“Mr. Benfield, Mr. Valliant (Fritz), and Mr. Mara were amazing teachers who guided me, mentored me, and supported me throughout my years at South,” Mr. Lopez said. “They all supported me through my college application process and helped me gain admission to the University of Chicago.”
A Colt to the core, Mr. Lopez cited “winning the Cannon my senior year and spending the full weekend re-painting it silver and black” as a high school highlight.
In Mr. Benfatti’s word processing class, Mr. Lopez became acquainted with Lindsey Anderson (Class of 2000), who went on to become Mrs. Nick Lopez.
As he approached the end of his career at South, Mr. Lopez harbored “a lot of ideas and notions of what I might study or pursue as a career. What I appreciated about my South education — and especially the guidance I received from teachers like Mr. Benfield, Mr. Mara, and Fritz — was that it instilled in me a strong sense of curiosity and love of knowledge.
“Ultimately, I concentrated in Anthropology for my Bachelor’s degree and later earned a Master’s degree in non-profit management. In many ways, South prepared me for a broad-based, liberal arts education. It provided me with a foundation for lifelong learning.”
In selecting Mr. Lopez as the 2022 Person of the Year, the National Hispanic Institute offered lush praise, noting that “he has served as a larger-than-life leader for high school students within NHI, numerous other nonprofits, and was recently selected for a new position that is sure to increase his impact.
“Mr. Lopez embodies the leadership values of NHI, especially the principle of leading by serving and inspiring others. He also epitomizes the principle of seeking common ground and as a result of his desire to make a difference and personal experiences, he is easily able to connect with and mentor Latinx students.”
Always looking toward the future, Mr. Lopez is anxious to get to work on his goals.
“I want to build my own legacy of shaping lives and impacting lives,” he said.