Community Advocates

David Lopez, CLA ’13
Policy prodigy

David Lopez was just 22 and working as a staff assistant in the Obama White House when his time came to speak. Only a few months into his job, he found himself at a conference table surrounded by military staff and longtime government personnel—many of whom were at least twice his age. Briefly intimidated by the collective years of experience in the room, Lopez considered keeping quiet. But when the time came, he did let not that stop him from voicing his concerns over a proposal which could have had profound consequences if adopted. “It was the moment I realized I would not let my age stop me from saying what needed to be said.”

Lopez spent nearly five years working in the administration. He was later promoted to policy advisor in the Office of the Chief of Staff, where he remained until President Barack Obama’s last days in office, focusing on many high-profile domestic policy issues such as immigration, healthcare and veteran affairs.

“While at the White House, our goal was to do as much good for as many people as we could, every single day,” Lopez said.

After his Washington, D.C. stint, Lopez went west to serve as advisor to the President and CEO of Kaiser Family Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit. In late 2019, Lopez joined Google, where he works to prevent bad actors from spreading abuse on the company’s platform—with particular focus on the upcoming U.S. 2020 Elections. 

“In the White House, our goal was to do as much good for as many people as we could, every single day.”

Andrew Wollaston, EDU ’13, LAW ’16
Special education advocate

I went from teacher to lawyer because ... I wanted to work in the School District of Philadelphia, and I found there were a lot of amazing teachers and classmates who were already doing that, and I thought maybe there was another way to help folks out and represent their rights.

My clients are ... children with disabilities. I am primarily working to protect their rights in the classroom. I also work to protect students’ free speech rights and the rights of homeless students. 

On avoiding litigation ... It’s expensive for everybody involved. And it’s not really the best way for the child to get what they need. A lot of the time it’s about educating folks on what their rights are, and the best way to help the school district understand what services they’re obligated to provide.

My teaching experience helps ... when we’re dealing with parents who have students with disabilities, who are having trouble in the classroom. We’re able to relate.

On filling a niche from Lancaster ... Special education attorneys focus around Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. There isn’t really anyone who represents children in the middle of the state. Parents aren’t really aware their children have certain rights. I envision myself working more with those parents, working with those communities and schools that don’t have many resources.

Hazim Hardeman, KLN ’17
One for the Rhodes

Hazim Hardeman became a hometown inspiration when he was named a 2018 Rhodes scholar, Temple’s first ever. The North Philly native grew up blocks from Main Campus and navigated the harsh economic realities of his neighborhood and public school system to be one of just 32 Americans selected.

Now at Oxford University in England, he is working toward a master’s in history, and he revels in building relationships and hearing the global perspectives of his classmates. “The conversations that I’m able to have with my friends, some of the other scholars, are what I’ve cherished and valued most since arriving at Oxford,” says Hardeman. 

Much of his time is spent researching his thesis on the intersection of race and American political ideology over the past half century. It’s an interest that was sparked during his time at Temple, as a strategic communication major with a concentration in rhetoric and public advocacy. And it’s part of his plan to fulfill a commitment to “lifting up the voices of [his] community.”

Janine Musheno Burkhardt, DEN ’15
Determined dentist

Within months of receiving her dentistry degree, Janine Burkhardt came face to face with some of the most challenging problems in her field. 

Entrusted to fulfill nonprofit Project HOME’s mission to serve the homeless and low-income residents, Burkhardt learned to navigate issues ranging from complicated insurance and Medicaid payment systems to dentures being stolen from shelters.

“The more I get out there, the more I see the need, and it pushes me to do more.”

Under her leadership, the Stephen Klein Wellness Center near Temple’s Main Campus has grown from one operatory chair to eight. In 2018, Burkhardt expanded her responsibilities by opening a dental chair at the Hub of Hope under Suburban Station in Center City, providing dental services year-round for the first time to a large homeless population served by the center. 

Malcolm Kenyatta, KLN ’12
Repping North Philly

Being the PA House’s first openly gay person of color feels ... great, but it’s not enough. I hope my election gets poor kids and LGBTQ kids saying, “Hey, I want to run for office. If Malcolm did it, I can, too.”

On growing up in North Philly ... I was lucky to grow up in the best neighborhood in the world where people work hard and care for one another. But like any community where folks are struggling economically, there were issues with trash and blight. When I was 11, I told my mom about the changes I wanted to see, and she said, “If you care so much about it, go do something.” So I ran for junior block captain. 

I benefitted from ...  a lot of the services that I’m trying to make sure exist for other families. I grew up in poverty, but my parents never let that stop us. There’s a moral case and an economic case I make in addressing poverty. Every single day people get up in the face of tough odds and work their asses off.

On how to ease tensions between Temple and neighbors ... The relationship has to be built on trust and mutual respect. The neighborhood’s not going anywhere, and neither is Temple. We now have to live together, where the neighborhood’s growth and Temple’s growth are not mutually exclusive, but mutually inclusive. 

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