VISTA Leadership Megastars – Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez

Jennifer Lopez, who grew up in Pen Argyl, a small community nestled among the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Lehigh Valley, is the Chief Executive Officer of Friends Association for Care & Protection of Children.

Lopez, who possesses a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and International Studies from Kutztown University, said her proudest professional achievements have been implementing change — through innovative, creative solutions — in the various systems she’s worked in.

“Programs like the Women’s Reentry and Assessment Program (WRAP) and Treatment Courts that I spearheaded during my time with Chester County, as well as the Eviction Prevention Court pilot program that we developed at Friends last year, have provided opportunities for me to integrate my values and goals for bringing forth a more equitable community for all into my everyday work,” said Lopez. “These programs fundamentally change the trajectory of proceedings and ultimately are transformational for the people within these systems. And those changes will outlast my career and continue to create impact for years to come.”

Lopez, who aims to inspire others by being authentic and showing her humanity and shared experience, offered her thoughts on what makes a successful leader.

“Richard Rohr speaks about the ‘love ethic’ and living our lives based on the principles of that ethic by showing care, respect, knowledge, integrity, and the will to cooperate,” she said. “Those values and principles, concern for the collective good, not only translate to the people we serve but also to our organizations and how we lead. Leadership takes courage and vulnerability; it is showing up every day to create an environment that recognizes we are all human and creating that delicate balance of compassion and accountability. It is allowing people to show up as who they are, supporting them as they evolve, connecting with them through a shared vision, passion, and commitment and modeling brave, vulnerable leadership so people feel supported and can thrive and do their best work. No one does anything of importance by themselves. Having a team and a community around you are both key to successful leadership.”

For Lopez, all 12 Principles of the Scout Law — Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent — resonate with her and impact her life and career.

“All 12 principles capture the essence of being trauma-informed — an essential element of my career and life perspective,” said Lopez. “From my own experience of overcoming trauma to my career choices of working with wounded individuals, I have been guided by trauma-informed principles — a theory that calls us to understand how trauma affects people’s lives and everyday experiences. These principles have given me the knowledge and capacity to do the hard work it takes to achieve great impact. Knowing that each and every human being is complex, yet capable of wonderful things, has given me the strength and fortitude to offer the best of myself.”

The Chester County Council, Boy Scouts of America will honor Lopez and the 11 other VISTA Leadership Megastars at a hybrid awards ceremony on Sept. 14 at its new Program, Activity, and Resource Campus (PARC) in Exton. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. For more information, contact Sarah Ponzio at or 610-696-2900 x 121.

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