Mario E. Lopez '15 Named First Chief Diversity Officer at UC Law SF

Mario Ernensto Lopez ’15 previously served as Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiatives and established UC Law SF’s First Generation Program.

After working the last seven years to make UC Law San Francisco’s campus more diverse and welcoming to all students, Mario Ernesto Lopez ’15 was appointed in September as the law school’s first Chief Diversity Officer.

“I came to law school wanting to make a difference in our society,” Lopez said. “Being able to do that here as our campus’s first Chief Diversity officer, it means a lot to me.”

Starting in the Admissions Office in 2016 and later serving as Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Initiatives, Lopez has travelled across the state of California and the United States to recruit diverse law students and establish partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He also launched a new program that supports first-generation college students, and his efforts helped make UC Law SF’s Class of 2026 one of the most diverse in the law school’s history.

“Mario is one of the most hard-working people you will meet and an inspiration to all who know him,” Chancellor & Dean David Faigman said. “His enthusiasm and energy are unmatched in whatever he does, whether traveling and presenting for DEI admissions efforts, speaking one-on-one with prospective California Scholars, or organizing workshops for the First Gen Program.”

Lopez started his journey at UC Law SF more than a decade ago as a law student. The son of parents who came from Guatemala and El Salvador, he grew up in Marin County and started his post-high school education at the College of Marin before transferring to UC Davis, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science.

In law school, he co-led fundraising for La Raza, now known as the Latinx Law Students Association; served on the intercollegiate trial team; and worked as a White House intern in the National Economic Council under President Obama. After law school, he decided to stay in the Bay Area so he could take care of his grandmother who was diagnosed with cancer.

Lopez accepted a temporary role in the UC Law SF Admissions Office in 2016, which soon morphed into a permanent position. He realized he had a passion for bringing young people into the law, particularly those who faced barriers to succeeding in higher education.

In his five years as Associate Director of Admissions and Diversity Initiatives, he spearheaded and helped lead many projects, including UC Law SF’ Black Pre-Law Summit, its California Scholars Program, its “3+3” partnership with Spelman College, and its first-ever diversity open house.

In 2021, he was appointed UC Law SF’s first Director of DEI Initiatives and continued to rack up accomplishments. He established UC Law SF’s First Generation Program in 2022, which provides workshops, mentorship, community, and support for students who, like Lopez, are the first in their families to attend college. He was also instrumental in UC Law SF joining the Cal LAW Pathways Program earlier this year, which helps build pipelines to law school for diverse students from California high schools, community colleges, and four-year institutions.

“Having folks that represent the diversity of our state and our communities makes our learning experience better for all of our students, and it makes our law school stronger,” Lopez said.

As chair of the law school’s DEI Working Group, Lopez also facilitated the group to help establish a set of Community Principles, aspirational goals for fostering a more equitable, welcoming, kind, and affirming environment at UC Law SF. The principles were adopted in May.

In his new role as Chief Diversity Officer, Lopez will join the Chancellor & Dean’s Key Issues Leadership Team, providing a diversity lens for discussions and strategic decisions that will shape the future of the law school.

“We want to have a legal profession that represents our state and our country today and the communities that we serve,” Lopez said. “I’m passionate about doing this work to make a positive change in our society.”