AFSCME NJ Local President Honored by Essex County Freeholders

Yesenia Lopez, President of Local 2298, was honored by the Essex County Freeholders during Hispanic Heritage Month in September.

Yesenia Lopez was born and raised in Camden, NJ.  She graduated from Camden County Vocational Technical High School in Pennsauken, NJ at the top of her class as a Certified Nurse Assistant.  Upon graduation, she moved to northern NJ (where she’s lived since) to attend Rutgers University – Newark.  She obtained her undergraduate degree in criminal justice from Rutgers in 2002.  She became the first Latina archivist in the State of New Jersey when she received her master’s degree in Library & Information Science with a Certificate in Advanced Studies in Archives and Records Management from Long Island University in May 2007. 

Yesenia was awarded an internship by the Latino Leaders Fellowship Institute in 2001 and an Outstanding Leader award in 2002 for her committed involvement in student activities.  Since then she has remained committed to serving her community as a volunteer in numerous organizations.  Currently, she serves on the Board of Directors of the Boys to Leaders Foundation.  She’s served as a mentor to inner-city youth via a Youth Mentoring Program and as a big sister in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Morris, Bergen, & Passaic Counties. Yesenia also served as a role model to 7th & 8th grade students via To Save Latin America’s, Reaching Our Dream Program where she gave motivational speeches on her life experiences and accomplishments.  Additionally, she volunteered as a boxing coach/ trainer to inner-city youth at a local boxing club, Face Off Boxing Academy in Paterson, NJ.    

In 2015, Ms. Lopez was awarded the “Shaping Our Future Leadership Award” on behalf of the Friends of HRIC for her “outstanding leadership and dedication to the well-being of our community.” 

Ms. Lopez was recently named Director of the New Jersey Hispanic Research & Information Center (NJHRIC) at The Newark Public Library where she had served as Head Archivist of the Puerto Rican Community Archives (PRCA) since its establishment 15 years ago.  Under her direction, the PRCA accessioned over 45 historically valuable collections from the Puerto Rican communities of New Jersey and has hosted over 30 interns, volunteers, work/study and independent research students.  

Yesenia also serves as the president of her local public employees union, AFSCME New Jersey. At the AFSCME NJ Organizing and Education Conference this September, Yesenia was given the distinct honor of introducing key note speaker, AFSCME International President, Lee Saunders. 

This year, she moved into her first home with her fiancé and 5-year-old son, Denzel.  Her life experiences and family are the motivation behind her continued commitment and dedication to documenting the history of the community in which they live.