Alumni Changemakers: Dr. Lily Lopez-McGee

Alumni Changemakers: Dr. Lily Lopez-McGee

To honor our 40 years, we're celebrating our most valuable resource - our alumni - through 40 profiles highlighting their leadership. Alumna Katherine Pantangco completed the Junior Summer Institute at Maryland University in 2005.

Bringing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to International Education

Dr. Lily Lopez-McGee embodies the values of collaboration, empowerment, and leadership. Born in Guatemala and raised in Eastern Washington (state), Dr. Lily Lopez-McGee started her journey with an interest in international business. After applying to the Institute for International Public Policy Fellowship with the unwavering support of a key mentor, she was awarded an opportunity of a lifetime, and completed her Junior Summer Institute at the University of Maryland’s Maryland Leadership Institute.

Dr. Lily Lopez-McGee received her B.A. in International Affairs and M.P.A. from the University of Washington and her Ph.D. in Education from George Mason University. Her ability to develop and implement successful programs emerged while she was a Student Instructor for the Digital Learning Commons, a Project Intern for the Global Action Network, and a Graduate Staff Assistant for the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity at the Ethnic Cultural Center.

“JSI was transformational because it connected me with a community of peers who kept me motivated and accountable for setting high goals and simultaneously challenged me academically. The summer was rigorous, jam packed, and intense; it was also an adventure that connected me with lifelong friends and colleagues that I’m proud to call my community.”

From there, she began working at UNCFSP, a nonprofit that supported minority-serving institutions domestically and internationally. In her roles of Program Coordinator, Project Manager, and Acting Project Director her ability to supervise teams, build and maintain relationships, and offer administrative oversight built a strong and effective foundation for the organization.

“When I began my career, I thought I would get my start giving back to the fellowship that changed my own trajectory. I didn’t realize then that I would find my way into professional experiences that would have me working at the nexus of higher education, public service, and international affairs. I’m so grateful that the selection panel saw something in me and made the decision to invest in my development. I’ve been working to make sure that others like me continue to have similar opportunities because all industries need to reflect the diverse perspectives of the United States.”

In her role as Manager at Diversity Abroad, she focused largely on developing and coordinating diversity training for international education professionals while also managing the Diversity Abroad Network, a professional network of institutions and organizations with a shared goal of making international education and exchange accessible and equitable to all students. She led the development of the Global Equity and Inclusion Scorecard (formally the AIDE roadmap), the first assessment tool for evaluating diversity and inclusion efforts in study abroad offices at U.S. institutions. Serving as the Deputy Director of the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program and then as the Director of Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Program for Howard University, Dr. Lily Lopez-McGee managed a vital pipeline of diverse, talented U.S. diplomats for the U.S. Department of State.

“International affairs, foreign policy, and international education and exchange do not currently reflect the diversity of the US population. It’s clear from research and case studies from other industries that developing a diverse workforce and an inclusive work environment are critical components to ensuring we develop strong and effective policies and remain competitive in the international arena.”

She currently holds the position of Executive Director of Diversity Abroad while also working as an adjunct professor empowers and educates future leaders at American University’s International Teaching and Education Master’s Program. She serves as a Co-Chair of the Global Access Pipeline, a consortium of organizations committed to increasing access and opportunities in international affairs for minoritized communities, and is a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory.

Dr. Lily Lopez-McGee is encouraging and empowering future leaders through international education and exchange. As she skillfully brings awareness to unconscious biases, she is paving the way for a rich tapestry of diverse talent to participate in international affairs.

Thank you, Dr. Lily, for your commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity in international education. Your efforts are creating access for opportunities and cultivating innovation and collaboration within the global community. 

Read more Changemaker profiles here!