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Maria joined as President of REDF in 2021 (in a role she describes as her “dream job”), after 15 years at Cara Collective – a social enterprise on the move to eradicate relational and financial poverty. At Cara, Maria helped to deepen its impact for thousands of Chicagoans from untapped talent pools, while bringing its services to a national stage – expanding both its footprint and its influence to practitioners and employers alike in their collective journey to fueling a more inclusive economy.
A social impact enthusiast, advocate, and entrepreneur, Maria knows firsthand we stand on the shoulders of those came before us; and our job – or more like our opportunity – is to pave the way for others to stand on ours. Maria writes about the process Cara took to do so in a book entitled Voice and Vocation: A workforce practitioner’s guide to building hopes, jobs, and opportunity, understanding the mission at play in the larger work of employment social enterprise: not just connecting overlooked talent to employment, but bringing lift to their voice in the process.
Maria serves on the advisory boards of the First Women’s Bank (a first-of-its-kind platform designed to grow the small business economy and advance the role of women within it), and the University of Chicago Inclusive Economy Lab. She is a 2008 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow, a 2012 American Marshall Memorial Fellow, a 2018 Vital Voices Global Ambassador, a former co-chair within Chicago Mayor Lightfoot’s 2019 transition team, and a 2020 Presidential Leadership Scholar. Maria holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.