Maria was born and raised in Southwest Detroit and has dedicated her life to her community. Using her degrees in Organizational and Community Leadership, she founded Congress of Communities, a nonprofit that assists children in successfully entering and exiting higher education. Maria previously worked at University of Michigan and has many publications in partnership with its School of Public Health. Maria has continued to build upon her knowledge by completing certifications addressing Environmental Issues, Leadership Development and Social Justice. In 2018, she completed a 3 year W.K. Kellogg Foundation Fellowship addressing Racial Equity, Social Justice and Institutional Racism. Here’s what she had to say about her time in Detroit Public Schools:

“I graduated from Southwestern High School in 1978. Growing up in southwest Detroit and attending Detroit Public Schools grounded me at so many levels.  I was not the best student academically, but I know now I was a resilient leader that was a rule breaker and a risk taker. However, I took all my life learnings and overcame many barriers to become the founder and Executive Director of a powerful non-profit that helps kids like myself rise up from poverty to privilege. I have been married 37 years and raised two very well-rounded successful kids. For my latest project, I am currently developing a Youth-Driven Community Center in southwest Detroit. My time at Detroit Public Schools made me who I am today.” Now that’s DPS Proud!