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Born and raised in East Boston, Manny Lopes, MBA’11, loves his community enough to devote his life to it. In particular, the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) helped him find his passion for delivering care to underserved populations. Along the way, an MBA from the D’Amore-McKim School of Business gave him the foundation he needed to go full circle from a patient to its leader.

Lopes, who is president and CEO of EBNHC, began his work at the Health Center at 18 as a field researcher. Once his tasks were complete, he bounced between the organization’s IT, human resources, and operations departments, amassing rich, diverse experiences and garnering attention from managers. After a brief stint outside the center in consulting and sales, Lopes returned as VP and CIO in 2004, earning his MBA from D’Amore-McKim in 2011 to expand his expertise as an executive. Between his education and his deep experiences across departments, his leadership skills allowed him to assume the role of CEO in 2012. 

“Don’t be afraid to try new things. My journey was not a straight line, and I think it was the zig zags that helped me gain experiences,” Lopes says. “I think if I had said no to any one of those experiences, I would not have come to this job with everything I need.”

Now he helps to develop the Health Center’s strategy and vision, ensuring they stand true to their mission to “provide care to anyone who walks through our doors, regardless of their ability to pay, in a culturally competent and sensitive way.”

Caring for the community

Offering primary care services in addition to a variety of other health and development programs, EBNHC is one of the largest federally qualified health centers in the country and serves more than 120,000 patients with sites across the Greater Boston area.

At the onset of the pandemic, EBNHC pivoted to meet community needs with telehealth and mobile wellness units, in addition to opening one of the first Boston drive thru testing sites. Now they facilitate four vaccination clinics and promote education to address vaccine hesitancy. Above all, they aim to prioritize those hit hardest by the pandemic.

“We keep our eyes on the prize, which is trying to eliminate health inequities and making sure that those individuals who may not have the option to go elsewhere for healthcare, that they come see us—or those that even have options still come and see us,” Lopes says.

Developing a critical executive eye with his MBA

Lopes always planned to complete his master’s, but when he returned to healthcare he had a decision to make: continue his education in healthcare administration or business administration. He chose to hone his leadership and finance skills with an MBA, drawn to D’Amore-McKim by the opportunity to learn “around the table with other senior executives.”

He says he was most impacted by interactions with his classmates, particularly with those in for-profit spaces whose lessons and skills he could learn from and apply to EBNHC. With a newfound critical eye and leadership and visionary skills, Lopes attributes much of his success as an executive to his D’Amore-McKim MBA experience.

“I think it gave me the ability to look at things more critically and think more broadly and really understand what the role [of CEO] meant and the responsibility that goes along with that role at an organization like mine.”