DELMARINA LOPEZ

City Councilor, City of Chicopee
Adjunct Professor, Bay Path University

Heritage: Puerto Rican

By: Frank Morris Lopez

 

Awards & Recognitions:

  • First person of color elected to Chicopee City Council

For Delmarina López, opportunity knocks — and that led to her knocking on doors, as she ran for Chicopee City Council last year.

 

She won, making her the first person of color, the first Afro Latina, and one of less than a dozen women to ever sit on the Council.

 

“First and foremost, representation is important to me as a councilor. Prior to me, decisions that impacted communities of color were being made by people who did not look like us,” she said.

 

López was born in Puerto Rico, where her family was highly engaged in civic affairs. Even when they moved to Chicopee, they continued to be so. “I didn’t realize how much they would shape the way I would become,” she said.

 

In high school — through a chance encounter — she was asked to apply for an internship at the Governor’s Western Massachusetts Regional Office. At age 16, she became the youngest person to intern in the office, doing so under the Deval Patrick Administration.

 

“Opportunity presents itself. Every yes leads to another opportunity. Every no is either a stance for yourself or closing the door. I say yes to more things than not,” she said.

 

Her experience at the governor’s office led to her getting a job at the Chica Project as the Western Mass regional manager. At Bay Path University, where she got her bachelor’s in criminal justice, she served as president of the student government association. At Western New England University, where she got her law degree, she was co-president of the WNEU National Lawyers’ Guild.

She then went on to become a legal assistant and law clerk at the Secretary of State’s Western Mass Office. And last year, she started teaching criminal justice classes as an adjunct professor at Bay Path, her alma mater. 

 

“There were not many Latina attorneys around here. Growing up, I knew one. And the professors I had, particularly the women of color, I looked up to them,” she said. “Being a young Afro Latina, I think I connect with students differently.

 

Truths about incarceration rates and all these conversations that I was not able to have, or conversations I had with people who did not look like me … Teaching is one of my favorite things. You do it as a labor of love.”

 

López said she gives thanks to all the women in her life who paved the way for her. “To witness how so many women in my family have been so resilient and taken so much pride in what they do, that is a huge motivator for me. I hope to have that impact on the next generation.”