Mom of the Month: Marianne Hamilton Lopez {November 2021}


The Washington, DC area is full of amazing moms: working moms, stay-at-home moms, single moms, moms of multiples, foster moms, adoptive moms, etc. We want to highlight some of those moms like Marianne Hamilton Lopez! Each month we will feature one special mom as the mom of the month. Know a fellow amazing local mom here? Nominate them here!

Marianne Hamilton Lopez: November Mom of the Month

Marianne Hamilton Lopez came to the DMV 20 years ago from Indiana armed with a bachelor’s degree in politics and women’s studies, short spiky hair, and a friendly Midwestern attitude. After earning her MPA from George Washington University, she was selected into the HHS Emerging Leaders Program. During that two-year rotational program, Marianne met and married her husband. She eventually went back to school for a PhD in Public Policy and began her career in health policy. Marianne is currently the Senior Research Director for Biomedical Innovation at the Duke-Margolis Center for Health policy where she oversees policies focused on drugs and devices, especially how they are developed, regulated, and paid for. While pursuing her PhD and her career, she had three babies who are now 8, 11, and 13. Their family now lives in Alexandria with an 80 pound mutt. In her free time, Marianne is known for consuming horrible espionage novels and equally horrible action movies. She has been unsuccessfully trying to identify and develop real hobbies for years.

Here is our Q&A with Marianne:

How did you balance the pursuit of your PhD and your career while having and raising three amazing kids?

I’m not sure if I ever felt like I “balanced” anything in my life, I just kept moving forward. During the first semester of my PhD program, I became pregnant. I remember being nervous as I told my advisor. She didn’t miss a beat and told me, “you can do this.” It was so matter of fact and what I needed to hear in that moment. But the reality after giving birth was that life became chaotic. We were tired, both in grad school, and often broke. More than once, I became so discouraged that I wanted to quit. At some point I confronted the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day. The idea of being perfect needed to be set aside in order to succeed. I had to shift my thinking. To have children while working on a PhD meant learning to prioritize. I had to learn how to ask for help from my husband and family and friends. I ended up defending my dissertation a few months after the birth my third baby, and after returning to the workforce. It wasn’t always pretty, but I did it.

I’m lucky that I have the partner that I have. He works full time too, but we figure things out. And thank God he can cook. Honestly, I’ve needed to realize and embrace my strengths and let other things go. I give myself permission to not feel guily if I don’t particpate in all the fundraisers or the PTA and if I’m always the person at work that needs to be reminded to turn in some report. My kids are happy, my marriage is healthy, and I find success in work. Did I remember to send a personalized note in my kid’s lunch? Probably not.

What has been your experience raising biracial children?

It’s been a learning process. I’ve been witness to how my kids identify and how they embrace the fact that they are Afro-Cuban and Mexican and white. How they are able to hold on to all of this at one time. I’ve also faced the reality that the privledge I have does not extend to them. That living in a bubble or sending them to good schools doesn’t shield them from the realities that they will have to navigate. And I can be supportive or defensive, but I can never know what those experinces are like.

Does your family have any favorite holiday traditions?

We celebrate a lot with family. My folks and sister live in Indiana so the holidays often include trips to celebrate with them. Also, my husband has a large family here so we celebrate with everyone (40+ people) on Noche Buena and Día de Los Reyes. It’s an opportunity to eat good food, listen to good music, and just enjoy being together.

What is your hope for your children? What do you want them to learn from you?

I hope that they stay friends and always have each other’s backs. Also, I hope that they take chances, believe in themselves, and have adventures. I hope that they contribute to making the world a little kinder, better, and more interesting. I want them to learn to have a sense of humor and to surround themselves with others that will support and love them.

Do you know an amazing mom that would be a great mom of the month? Nominate them here!
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Julie Hart
Julie is a proud born and bred Texan, but has called DC home since 2001. She studied at the University of Texas and then moved to DC to get her MPA at the George Washington University. Julie worked for ten years for a Member of Congress, where she loved working to impact public policy. In 2013, her world turned inside out when she gave birth to twins and decided to become a stay-at-home mom. Currently Julie lives in the H Street Corridor with her husband, two kids, and their increasingly grouchy senior dog, Presley. Yes, please: movie dates with her husband, trying new restaurants, exploring DC with her kids, last minute road trips, being outdoors, festivals (of any kind), girls’ night out, and a rainy day with “Pride and Prejudice.” No, thank you: hot and humid summers, mistreating animals, Legos (ouch!), public speaking, laundry, raw fish