- Susan Kennedy
- Director of Communications, Office of Speaker pro Tempore Kevin Mullin
San Mateo – Assembly Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin announced his selection of Kitty Lopez, Executive Director of First 5 San Mateo County as the 2022 Assembly District 22 Woman of the Year.
For over 30 years, the California State Legislature has celebrated the achievements of women throughout the state with its annual Woman of the Year celebration, which takes place during Women's History Month. Each Assemblymember and State Senator selects a woman from their district. Traditionally, honorees are invited to the State Capitol to be introduced on the Assembly Floor and are given a resolution honoring their contributions to the community and state, but this year the event remains virtual.
“Kitty is an exemplary leader with a long history of accomplishments and I am pleased to recognize an incredibly talented and dedicated member of our community. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic Kitty played a key role as a partner and steward of efforts to support young children, families and early care providers in a sector that was particularly impacted,” said Speaker pro Tem Kevin Mullin.
As the Executive Director of First 5 San Mateo County and the Co-Chair of the Advisory Body, Build Up San Mateo County Children’s Initiative, Kitty is always working on ways to improve and increase child care services in San Mateo County.
Since its inception, First 5 has invested more than $150 million in local programs and has served nearly 100,000 children from birth through age five. Each year, more than 8,000 parents and primary caregivers receive Frist 5 San Mateo County-funded services. The pandemic hit this service area significantly, so Kitty and First 5 played a key role by providing support to young children, families and early care providers through flexible funding, engagement in San Mateo County’s Emergency Child Care Response Team, facilitating emergency supplies from First 5 California and other state agencies to over 300 child care providers, and co-hosting virtual forums and information sessions with county partners and agencies for both providers and parents of young children. As a result of this engagement, the Child Care Response Team was able to distribute $5.3 million to 287 child care programs during the pandemic, supporting over 8,000 children.
Prior to her role at First 5, Kitty served as the Executive Director of Samaritan House, one of San Mateo County’s leading Core Services Agencies and safety net non-profits serving low-income families and individuals with food, shelter, clothing, health care, counseling, education classes and holiday assistance. During her tenure at Samaritan House (2002-2013), she led a capital campaign to raise over $6 million for a new building to house the kitchen, case management and administrative offices. The agency staff grew from 14 to nearly 80 with a budget increase of $2 million to nearly $10 million when she departed.
Kitty has been a teacher and consultant in schools serving students with special needs and has also worked in a residential substance abuse treatment center and psychiatric hospital for children and youth. She is also active in her community serving on several boards, including HEART (Housing Endowment and Regional Trust of San Mateo County), STEP (Success Through Education Program), and is Past President and current member of the San Mateo Rotary Club. She is currently serving as the newly elected Chair of the First 5 Association of California.
“Over the past two years, Kitty and her teams worked tirelessly to overcome challenges others may have seen as insurmountable. Her strong commitment to San Mateo County and to all those she has served throughout her career is unwavering, and we as a community are better as a result of her good work,” stated Speaker pro Tem Mullin.