Lilia Garcia Moreno de Lopez’s lifelong dedication to improving the lives of women, children, the elderly, and the Latino community has made her one of San Diego’s most respected activists. During more than thirty years of grassroots organizing, she has contributed greatly to social justice and community empowerment in San Diego. Lopez was educated at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM) and worked in public relations and journalism in Mexico for fifteen years. After moving to Barrio Logan in the early 1960s, she soon recognized injustices suffered by Latinos and other ethnic groups living in the United States. Because many Latinas lacked basic job skills and access to educational resources, Lopez and others founded the first Latina advocacy group, Organizacion Femenil (1970).
As Lilia’s vision for Latina economic independence grew, she went on to create the first ESL/occupational training program for women in San Diego. This program produced numerous qualified and well-prepared women in the areas of clerical, secretarial, and medical receptionist professions. Along with these much-needed resources for Latinas, Lilia Lopez played key leadership roles in her community. She was the first Secretary for the Chicano Federation Board of Directors in 1969; and she represented San Diego Latinos by lobbying for youth programs in Washington D.C. and at the 1980 International Women’s Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. Lopez has also collaborated with San Diego State University researchers in numerous groundbreaking cross-cultural studies to identify the health needs of elderly San Diego Latinos and other aging ethnic groups (sponsored by U.S. Department of Health).
Lopez has been an active member of such diverse organizations as the San Diego County Alcoholism Advisory Board, San Diego Community College District Center City Adult Citizen Council, Model Cities Advisory Board, Logan Heights Health Clinic, and Latino Foster Parents Association. As if this were not enough, Lopez also raised four children and has fostered seven children since 1995. To many Lilia Garcia Moreno de Lopez is known as a true Madrina, a role model with enormous strength and vision.