Podcast #72: Helen Lopez Leads Cal OES Behind and Beyond the California Borders Via International Affairs

This episode takes a closer look at how the International Affairs Office, at the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, is the central hub for matters of  international policy and guidelines, working relationships and special international projects. As the focal point of Cal OES’s engagement with the international emergency management community, International Affairs is primarily responsible for:

  • Annually participating in the Border Governors’ Conference
  • Coordinating and facilitating all foreign delegation visits to the Cal OES headquarters
  • Developing Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) between Cal OES and their international counterparts in order to facilitate the exchange of emergency management best practices
  • Participating in the Chile-California Council
  • Participating in the California-Mexico Border Relations Council
  • Working side-by-side with the Governor’s Office to organize large international events such as the Trade Missions to China and Mexico


Helen Lopez is the International Liaison for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). As assistant director, she leads the International Affairs Office where she works with the international community on emergency response efforts and coordinates delegation visits for countries from all over the world. She has been instrumental in developing Memorandums of Understanding on emergency management with various countries including Chile, Mexico, Australia, and the Aga Khan Development Network. Ms. Lopez has a long history in public service. In 2008, she was appointed Assistant Director and later, in 2009, Deputy Chief of Staff to the newly created California Emergency Management Agency. In 2010, she was promoted to Chief of Staff.

During 1991 to 2007, Ms. Lopez served at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) as the Executive Director of the State Board of Food and Agriculture, Director of the Grant Management Program and Audit Director of the Internal Audit Office, as well as the Mexico liaison. In 1991, Ms. Lopez graduated from the California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Accountancy.


Cal OES International Affairs

Bracero Program

Indigenous Mixtecos

Aga Khan Development Network