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Closer Connections

Posted on March 28, 2022Written by Nancy Macy

Michelle Lopez of Berkshire Immigrant Center

1Berkshire Spotlight on Michelle Lopez Berkshire Immigrant Center – December 1, 2021

In Conversation with Michelle Lopez (she/her)

Michelle Lopez, Executive Director of the Berkshire Immigrant Center in Pittsfield, describes the journey, both personal and professional, that brought her to the Berkshires via the Catskills, Cuba, and Boston.

What brought you to the Berkshires?

My job. After reading the farewell letter my predecessor posted on Facebook, I was so moved I applied for the position. I’d never been to the Berkshires before that.

What do you love most about the way of life in the Berkshires?

Closer connections. There’s a blurred line between your professional and personal life, not in an unhealthy way, like when you recognize someone you say ‘hi’ even if you’re out of context. You don’t experience that in a metro area. And if you do have a commute, it’s beautiful. You’re not sitting in traffic.

Where would you spend a perfect weekend in the Berkshires?

On our deck with coffee and our dog, a Pekingese we got when we lived in Cuba. Kayaking near our home on Pontoosuc Lake, hiking at Hollow Fields in Richmond, listening to live music at Balderdash Cellars winery (I also bartend there), and salsa dancing at Lucia’s Latin Kitchen in Lee.

What five words best describe the Berkshires?

Bucolic, collaborative, natural (as in nature), cultural, and surprising. Growing up in the Catskills, I assumed the Berkshires would be the same. Now I know better. There are more nonprofits and arts and education here. It’s inherently more diverse because many of these offerings span different cultures and sometimes languages.

How has the pandemic impacted your life and work in the Berkshires?

The pandemic has shown us how flexible and resilient we are. At the Center, offering virtual appointments has allowed more people to gain access to affordable legal services, reaching beyond only those who could get to our offices in downtown Pittsfield. I’ve been limited personally. Having moved here only six months before the pandemic shut things down, I’ve not been able to explore as much as I’d like!

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