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Joel Lopez was born in Mexico and raised in public housing in the rural community of Tulare, CA. He spent his early years in the fields of the San Joaquin Valley as an immigrant farm worker with his parents. Mr. Lopez's father was an organizer with Cesar Chavez in the United Farm Workers Movement which provided Mr. Lopez exposure to grassroots community organizing at a young age. Mr. Lopez earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1995.
After college, he taught bilingual education in the primary grades with the Los Angeles Unified School District for five years before transitioning into community development. Between 2001 and 2011, Mr. Lopez worked as a youth case manager and community engagement and program development manager for the City of Los Angeles, Youth Opportunities Movement Program.
As the Resident Services Manager for the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles from 2011 – 2020, Mr. Lopez worked with Sgt Emada Tingirides to develop the innovative Community Safety Partnership (CSP), a crime reduction and community development initiative in partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department and the Mayor’s Office Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD). Over the last 11 years, the CSP model has proven successful in reducing crime by creating community partnerships that increase community trust and bolster safety in and around some of the most impoverished and violent public housing developments in the country. The CSP model was first established in the communities of Jordan Downs, Nickerson Gardens, Imperial Courts, and Ramona Gardens. As of 2020, the program has expanded to 10 communities, including two neighborhoods outside of public housing developments. In September of 2020, Mr. Lopez joined the new Community Safety Partnership Bureau as the Civilian Assistant Commanding Officer, joining newly appointed Deputy Chief Emada Tingirides to continue the work they started in 2011.