a lifelong Detroiter, grew up in Southwest Detroit. Castañeda-López made history by becoming the first Latina elected to the Detroit City Council in November 2013, her first attempt at an elected position. She currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Budget, Audit and Finance committee and as a member of the Public, Health and Safety committee. She was appointed to the Eastern Market Board, serves as an alternate for Council on SEMCOG and is Council's official liaison to Detroit Public Schools.
Castañeda-López is committed to working for social justice and improving the quality of life of our families. She inherited a strong work ethic and sense of justice from her migrant father, who started life in America as a plasterer with the Plasterer’s Union Local 67 before starting his own small business. Her mother, a rural postal carrier for over 20 years, taught her the importance of honesty and service to the community. Castañeda-López played a vital role in supporting her family, as the 3rd eldest of 8 siblings, after her father's passing. Her upbringing instilled a commitment to service and a strong sense of social responsibility.
A social worker by trade, Castañeda-López has over ten years of experience in the non-profit sector developing & implementing innovative youth programming, bringing needed resources to our communities. Prior to her election she worked as an adviser and program manager at Wayne State University (WSU) where she helped hundreds of underrepresented students fulfill their dream of earning a college education. She played a pivotal role in establishing supportive service programs for African American and Native American students.
Castañeda-López is working hard to ensure Detroiters have a voice on City Council by creating policies that strengthen the relationship between local government and community organizations. She is currently working on ordinances that support community benefits agreements, develop a permitting process for food trucks, facilitate the creation of public art and monitor environmental pollutants collectively. Castañeda-López knows we deserve clean and safe neighborhoods, a quality education system and effective city services. She has developed a strong resident service program, helping residents and local businesses cut through the 'red tape' and bureaucracy to access city services and resources.
Two months into her term Castañeda-López founded Detroit's Immigration Task Force with Council Member Spivey to support existing and future immigrant communities and build international relations as Detroit moves towards becoming an inclusive, diverse global city. She played a key role in Detroit becoming a Welcoming City in July 2013.
Castañeda-López served on the Hispanic/Latino Commission of Michigan both as chair of the Education & Health committee and member of the Civic Engagement Committee. Passionate about working with youth, Raquel served on the Clark Park Board and as a volunteer soccer coach with Think Detroit PAL. She was a Fellow with the Center for Progressive Leaders and New Detroit Multicultural Leaders and recently completed the Transatlantic Inclusion Leadership training with the German Marshall Fund.
Castañeda-López is a first generation college graduate with a Bachelor's of Social Work from the University of Montana and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Michigan.