Interview by Javier Carrillo
In our second “Alsame Success Series,” we introduce Salvador Lopez. Lopez holds one of the co-chair positions within Alsame and has been a huge advocate in growing Alsame into what it is today and what it will continue to be. Read the interview below and get to know a little bit more about Salvador!
Salvador, please tell us more about yourself.
I was born and raised in Salinas, California, for the first fifteen years of my life. I come from a multi-generational family of farm workers. My family is from Ameca, Jalisco, Mexico, near Guadalajara. My family moved to Grand Rapids, MI, when I was beginning high school, and we’ve been in Grand Rapids ever since. After graduating high school, I attended Grand Rapids Community College. I transferred to Grand Valley State University, where I obtained a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Science in communications – emphasizing diversity, inclusion, and equity management. I am a first-generation college graduate and the only person in my immediate family to earn a graduate degree.
My full-time job is as President of KConnect, a collective impact organization that seeks to close disparity gaps for children and families in Kent County, Michigan. In 2021, I was appointed as a board trustee at Grand Rapids Community College. In 2022, I was elected to keep my seat on the board through the general election. I am the second Latino ever to be elected to be on or stay on the board, and it is an honor to serve the institution that first allowed me to continue my education.
I live in Grand Rapids with my wife and twin daughters, Isabella and Sofia, our dog Luka, and our cat Greta. We’re also excited to welcome a baby boy to our family in March 2023.
How long have you been with Alsame?
I started attending the Alsame membership meetings in 2013. I can’t believe it’s been ten years! I first heard of Alsame when I started working at Grand Valley State University. A colleague invited me to join him at the meetings at Michigan State University. I was pleasantly surprised that a group of Latinos from across the state came together once a month to strategize how best to support Latino youth. I can honestly say that I was hooked on Alsame’s mission from the very beginning and wanted to support the group’s efforts.
What positions have you held with Alsame?
After attending meetings for over a year, I became a committee member for communications strategies. About a year later, I was voted to be a part of the board with a specific focus on revamping Alsame’s website and overall communications to the network. About four years ago, I was voted Chair of the board, and two years ago, I was voted to stay as Co-Chair with Vanessa Reynolds.
What are some of the proudest accomplishments with Alsame?
Where do I begin?! Alsame has come a long way in the past ten years. From the visual rebranding that helped us reach a wider audience to the membership growth. The execution of an annual Latino Youth Conference that continues to expose thousands of students to colleges and universities is a huge win for us. Within the past two years, we have increased our fundraising in order to award scholarships to high school seniors. I am also proud that Alsame could transition to a virtual world during the pandemic. Our monthly meetings not only stayed consistent, but we found that our participation grew because people could join us from all across the state. Gabriel Escobedo joins us from Michigan Tech and is one of our board members – that simply would not be possible three or four years ago. We have a much stronger sense of community through a virtual lens. I continue to be thankful for our current board members and our ability to adapt, grow, and strategize for the betterment of Latino youth all across the state. There is so much to be proud of and thankful for!
Where do you see Alsame going into 2023 and beyond?
I see Alsame’s board growing and diversifying to add talent and social capital from various sectors. I also see Alsame partnering with various organizations to grow its capacity. We are forming a strategic framework that positions Alsame to grow within the next three to four years. We hope Alsame can fundraise enough to hire its first Executive Director sometime in the next 12-24 months. Alsame is well known and does so much for the state and all with people that volunteer their time. It would be amazing to see what Alsame can accomplish when it has a hired leader positioned to oversee the fundraising for scholarships, grow our membership, and lead the conference planning aspect. Now is the time for growth, and I have zero doubt that we’ll be able to accomplish this and many other goals.
Favorite meal: chiles rellenos – especially my mom’s recipe!
Favorite place you have traveled: this is a hard one, but San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, is one of my favorites.
Coffee or tea: Coffee
iPhone or Android: iPhone
MSU or U0fM (during the rivalry game): I’m from California and feel like I’m a neutral bystander. With that said, it depends on who is inviting me over to watch the game. Whoever feeds me gets my support : )