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Headshot of Mariana Lopez

Mariana Lopez

  • Hosted by LatinoJustice PRLDEF
  • Sponsored by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
  • Service location New York, New York
  • Law school New York University School of Law
  • Issue area Education/Special Education, Environmental Justice
  • Fellowship class year 2024
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Mariana’s (she/her/hers) project, hosted by LatinoJustice PRLDEF, will focus on mitigating health and safety hazards in predominately Latinx schools and empower Long Island communities to fight against environmental injustice.

School facilities in low-income, heavily Latinx communities make children sicker, leading to health problems and lower academic performance. Lead pipes, inadequate air filtration near incinerator ash, “forever chemicals” in drinking water, and other toxins threaten the health of Long Island schoolchildren. Mariana will work with children in under-resourced “sick schools” who suffer severe concentration issues and higher rates of asthma, cancer, and other ailments due to environmental harms in their schools and communities. Mariana’s environmental justice project will reach underserved communities in New York.

Mariana’s background has inspired her to pursue this project with LatinoJustice at the intersection of immigration, environmental health and safety, and education in her home state.

Fellowship Plans

Mariana will use community education, litigation, and policy advocacy to reach her project’s goals. She will conduct Know Your Rights sessions that help community members identify environmental justice issues in schools and empower them to advocate for harm mitigation. Mariana will explore New York state law opportunities to challenge inadequate school facilities and assert Latinx students’ rights to a safe and healthy learning environment. Finally, in partnership with low-income communities who are fighting for legislation, she will work with community leaders and organizational partners to identify policy solutions that will best serve the interests of Long Island schoolchildren.

Growing up in an LGBTQ and Latinx household taught me how systems of oppression intersect and compound to create insurmountable barriers for many who immigrate to the U.S., especially people of color. This understanding motivates my commitment to racial justice.

Mariana Lopez /
2024 Equal Justice Works Fellow

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Erin Mette

Host: Great Lakes Environmental Law Center

Sponsor: Anonymous, Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP

Annie Kanzow

Host: Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, Inc.

Sponsor: The Florida Bar Foundation