As founder and Co-Chair of the NIKE Foundation, Maria was inspired to start Girl Effect because of her belief that adolescent girls have the potential to stop the cycle of poverty. The vision became a reality when the NIKE Foundation partnered with the NoVo Foundation, United Nations Foundation and other organisations to create Girl Effect in 2008.
A former television reporter, Maria joined NIKE in 1998 as its first Vice President of Corporate Responsibility. She previously worked in Media Affairs at the White House, where she was a Special Assistant to President George H.W Bush. Maria’s diverse experience also led to roles at MCI, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Microsoft.
Maria gained an MSc in Foreign Service from Georgetown University and a BA from Quebec’s McGill University. She also graduated from Stanford Graduate School’s Business Executive Program and has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humanity degree from Babson College.