The Chandler Cultural Foundation recently recommended Omar Lopez as a candidate to serve on its Managing Board. City of Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke appointed Lopez in June for a two-year term, beginning with the 2020-2021 season.
Upon moving to Chandler, Lopez was delighted to discover a bustling arts community and a vibrant music scene. The 6'8" professional basketball player from Southern California had recently retired from the National Olympic Team of Mexico after 11 years, a career filled with travel and intense competition in countries all over the world.
When he landed in Chandler in 2018, he found so many "artsy people, people who were so into music, wanting to listen and play music, people creating fascinating art." Says Lopez, "I thought, 'This is such a vibrant, rich and diverse place. I love it here.'"
Before long, he began to learn guitar, to pitch in on community murals and check out every new band and style of music he could find.
Now working as the International Account Manager at Kloekner Metals, Lopez is as passionate about his community as he is about sports and the arts. An Arizona resident since 2012, he volunteers at André House each weekend assisting the homeless and poor populations of Phoenix, as well as working with Food Not Bombs, which serves nutritious meals to those in need.
"After a harrowing plane crash at the age of 28, my perspective on life really changed. I always understood I was blessed. I have a healthy strong body and brain; I have been given so much. But after that experience, I really took stock of what I was doing. I left so much of my materialistic desires behind and have dedicated myself to giving back where ever I can," says Lopez.
His interest in working with youth began by volunteering in college, traveling to orphanages around Mexico, donating basketball shoes to kids. He now serves as Scholarship Chair for the Metal Service Center Institute, which grants 10 annual scholarships to at-risk youth so they can continue their education at Arizona colleges. He can frequently be seen on the court, shooting hoops with neighborhood kids.
"As dominant as professional sports are in our society, Omar is uniquely situated to bring his perspective of service, community, diversity and passion for the arts to help us build bridges in the community," says Jeanne Forbis, Board Chair, Chandler Cultural Foundation. "He knows first hand the impact one experience, one moment, one interaction can have on someone's life. And he is dedicated to doing what he can to create those life changing moments for people from all walks of life. We are thrilled to have him join the board. "