RISE 2019 Conference

Transforming University Engagement In Pre- and Post-Disaster Environments: Lessons from Puerto Rico

Peter Lopez

Regional Administrator

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - Region 2


havidan rodriguez photo

Pete Lopez was appointed to the position of Administrator for the US EPA Region 2 Office on October 8, 2017, after stepping down from his service as a Member of the NYS Assembly. As the Region 2 Administrator, Lopez has responsibility for the States of New York and New Jersey as well as the Commonwealths of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Born in Miami, Florida, Lopez is the son of Pedro Lopez of Camuy, Puerto Rico and Barbara Skiff of Schenectady, NY. Pete moved to upstate NY when he was an infant. Raised in a poor, working class family, Pete learned the value of hard work, the importance of education, and the advantages of living in a small, rural town. Pete scrubbed floors, stocked shelves, baled hay and scraped fish in order to finance his own education.

Pete graduated with honors from Schoharie CSD, SUNY Cobleskill, and SUNY Albany. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Affairs with a concentration in Environmental Studies and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. After receiving his Bachelor’s, Pete secured a position with the NYS Senate and was elected as a Village Trustee at the age of 21. While pursuing his Master’s, Pete continued his full time work with the NYS Legislature as the Associate Director of the Senate Agriculture Committee (Senator John R. Kuhl, Jr.), Assistant Director of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources (Senator Charles D. Cook), District Office Director (Assemblyman John J. Faso) and Executive Assistant (Senator John J. Bonacic). Simultaneously, Pete was elected to additional local offices including Town Councilman and Town Supervisor/County Legislator. During this period, Pete was appointed to the NYSAC Statewide Transportation Advisory Committee and the Association of Towns' Statewide Legislative Advisory Committee. After 21 years of service to the State Legislature and 12 years as a local official, Pete was elected as the County Clerk prior to becoming a NYS Assemblyman where he served for over 10 years. In 2016, Pete was elected to his 6th term, running unopposed as a result of his service and presence throughout his district. As a civil servant, Pete traveled approximately 1,000 miles a week in his personal Jeep to respond to the needs of his constituents across a 7 county region. He successfully addressed flood recovery issues (recently securing an unprecedented agreement with NYC to use the Gilboa Dam for flood control), helped create job, supported and advocated for children, families, teachers, schools, businesses, family farms and more.

A strong advocate for volunteerism, Pete has served as an altar server trainer, cantor and lector, Red Cross water safety instructor, youth soccer director and coach, youth ski club advisor, black belt karate instructor, Eagle Scout advisor, community pool and main street committee chairman. He has also been a member of an advisory committee on runaway and troubled youth, Boy Scout council executive committee, community band, county Farm Bureau and Kiwanis. He also established a local chapter of Habitat for Humanity and served on the boards of a local hospital, county Chamber of Commerce, college foundation and college alumni association.

Pete has been honored with numerous awards throughout his career, including Distinguished Alumni Awards from Schoharie CSD, SUNY Cobleskill and SUNY Albany, Eagle Scout, the State University of NY's Golden Anniversary Chancellor's Recognition Award, the NY State Masons' General Douglas MacArthur Award for Service to Youth, the Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce's Leader of the Year Award, the David Williams Award for Preservation of Freedom, the Forty Under Forty Rising Latino Stars Award, Centro Civico “Corazon” Achievement Award for public service, SCOPE 2015 NYS Legislator of the Year Award, 2016 National Eagle Scout Association Outstanding Eagle Scout, the NYS Rural Schools Association 2017 Legislator of the Year Award, and the Times Journal Star of the Year Award in recognition of his efforts to assist with flood recovery following the devastation of Hurricanes Irene and Lee.