Damen Lopez began his career as a long-term substitute in 1994 at Los Peñasquitos Elementary School in San Diego California. Seven years later, he was named the principal of that same school. His road to the principal’s office would include experience as a second grade teacher, fourth grade teacher, and assistant principal of the largest elementary school in the Poway Unified School District. Twice named as both Assistant Principal and Principal of the Year in his district, Damen’s success as a leader has helped to showcase Los Peñasquitos Elementary School as an exemplary model for others to follow. During five of the six years that Damen was principal, he and his staff earned the coveted 10-10 ranking by performing within the top ten percent of all schools within the state of California.
Damen is the founder of the No Excuses University, a network of 136 schools in 21 states representing nearly 90,000 students. No Excuses University focuses on ensuring academic success for all students, especially those living in poverty, through a comprehensive approach that promotes college readiness beginning in elementary school. The author of No Excuses University, Damen literally wrote the book about college readiness. Never afraid to confront the status quo, Damen inspires a passion in others to lead by example and place conversations regarding students above those about adults. While others continue to wait for the research that proves a perfect fix for their school’s woes, Damen and the four thousand No Excuses University staff members are busy being the research.