Speeches and Statements

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, Statement for the Congressional Record, Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, and Honoring Johanna López

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Washington, October 8, 2021 | comments

Mr. Speaker:

As part of our national celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, I am paying tribute to Floridians who have made outstanding contributions to our community and our country.

Today I rise to honor Johanna López.

Johanna was born in Puerto Rico.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Hispanic Studies from the University of Puerto Rico and holds a Master of Arts in Higher Education from the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico.

Later, Johanna moved to Central Florida where she taught Advanced Placement Spanish at Colonial High School for 19 years. While teaching, Johanna earned the distinction of being named the 2017 OCPS Teacher of the Year.  Johanna has also received the Governor’s Shine Award for Inspirational Teachers, the Queen Smith Award for Commitment to Urban Public Education, Macy’s Magic of Leadership Award, the Wings of Inspiration Award, Coca-Cola’s Educator of Distinction Award, and the Life Changer of the Year Award.

Johanna founded the Families Presentes Movement, a non-profit that educates and empowers Latino families and educators across Central Florida. Their online forum, Familias Presentes: Estudiantes Excelentes, informs and engages parents on a wide range of education-related issues and opportunities. She also founded Maestros Puertorriqueños en Acción, or Puerto Rican Teachers in Action, which is dedicated to providing aid and assistance to educators displaced from Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Maria and Irma in 2017. Johanna was also involved with many other organizations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council, the OCPS Foundation Board and Mi Familia Vota’s Education Committee.

When Johanna was elected to the Orange County School Board in 2018, she became the first Puerto-Rican born Board Member in the school district’s history. Her campaign was fully organized and run by current and former Orange County Public School students. Not long after, Johanna was honored to be named the Executive Director for Voces Unidas por la Educación Publica, a Latinx coalition that mobilizes, engages and educates Hispanic communities on legislative issues and topics in their native language.

Today, she is the Executive Director of the Alianza Center, a non-profit that serves the Puerto Rican and broader Hispanic communities of Florida by developing and promoting leadership, the environment, healthy living, and civic engagement.

Throughout her time as an educator, a school board member, and a community leader, Johanna has touched countless lives and made a positive impact on our Central Florida community.

I ask my colleagues to join me in honoring and celebrating Johanna López.

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