Youth Program Director
Maria has been an educator for over 20 years with experience as a paraeducator, Education Specialist, high school teacher, club advisor, and facilitator. The colonized education system and the misguidance Maria experienced in schools is what fuels her to foster a more safe and honest educational space for youth where their life experiences are used to harvest their brilliance so they not only heal and transform themselves but their communities as well.
She has made youth and education justice her lifelong passion and has a wide range of abilities and accomplishments related to the success of youth, especially those that have been marginalized by the current education system and by society as a whole, primarily youth with emotional and mental health needs.
As Youth Program Director and co-creator of the Liberated Youth for Empowerment (LYFE) program, she is currently supporting 4 teams across the Central Valley with their youth-centered campaigns: lifting up the LGBTQ2+ community in Fresno County; supporting the unhoused community in Tulare County; pushing for healthier and culturally relevant meals in Kern County schools and advocating for more green spaces and access to meaningful retail options in California City.
Outside of education and activism, Maria loves to read, hike, sew, cook, listen to music, and spend time with her family, and stays close to the indigenous teachings, teachers, and ceremonies of her ancestral lineage.