Maria was raised on homemade blackberry pie and wild hickories just north of the Missouri Ozarks. As an urban climate practitioner, she seeks to address climate justice through nature-based, people-oriented urban resilience in the US and abroad. Spending time in some of the world’s largest metropolises has helped her grapple with the stark reality and scale of urban climate impacts and urban environmental justice issues. Her diverse experiences have reinforced two things: 1) collective well-being depends on the collaborative and interdisciplinary efforts regionally and internationally to combat climate change and promote a just, sustainable future, and 2) protecting natural systems on which we rely for clean water, fresh air and good soils is key to addressing climate change and improving human well-being.
She received a B.S. in Environmental Systems Engineering with a Focus on Urban Environments from Stanford University. While studying, she coordinated the Environmental Justice sub-group within Students for a Sustainable Stanford, initiated and taught the undergraduate course Environmental Justice in the Bay Area and sang with Talisman, a world music group dedicated to sharing stories through song. Creative expression through art and storytelling has been a part of all her journeys. After graduating, she moved to Mexico City to work with Conservation International on urban watershed conservation. In her free time, Maria likes to bake pies, write songs, dance salsa and climb mountains.