During her 22-year career with Bank of America, Maria has been recognized as a business and community leader who has spent time both professionally and personally helping to build a Miami that we can all be proud of – a place where individuals have access to good jobs and can provide for their families, where small businesses have the opportunity to flourish, where children have access to quality education and older adults feel valued and cared for.
Now she’s bringing her private sector experience, her passion for community service and her love for Miami to her new role as our president and CEO. She officially joined the team on August 7, 2017, and after a few days on the job, we sat down with her to pose a few questions to get to know her a little better.
When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
It’s hard to remember that long ago (laughs) but my mom used to take me to the circus every year. One year, I remember telling her that I wanted to be a trapeze artist, and as you can imagine, we never went back!
What’s your credo – words to live by?
Walk the talk. I never ask anyone to do anything that I wouldn’t do myself.
In 140 characters, can you describe yourself?
Passionate, intense, empathetic & committed to my community. Fiercely loyal and, naturally, love dogs. Love traveling, music and enjoy wine.
Where did you go to school?
I am Miami through and through – from grade school to graduate school, I am a product of Miami’s educational institutions. I graduated with an industrial engineering degree from the University of Miami, worked as an engineer for two years, before deciding I wanted to use my problem-solving skills to work with people. I went back to school and worked on my master’s in business administration in marketing at Florida International University, which ultimately led to joining Bank of America.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned throughout your career in banking, and how will that experience translate into your new role?
Ironically, my 20+-plus years in banking has had little to do with banking from the traditional sense. I’ve never helped someone open an account or underwrite a loan. For the first half of my career at Bank of America I was part of their marketing organization, with responsibilities for Hispanic marketing strategy and later for their International Private Bank clients. In my most recent role as Miami market manager, I was responsible for understanding the community’s complex needs and building key relationships in an effort to help both customers and community prosper. I believe the same holds true for United Way. It gets down to relationships as well – inspiring people about United Way’s work, connecting them with the need and showing them how their personal engagement makes a difference.
Where can we find you after business hours?
While I’ve formally stepped down from key leadership roles as I take on this new position, I plan to remain active with the many community organizations and nonprofits that are working hard to make Miami-Dade a better place for all of us. This keeps me personally connected to the pulse of our community. Otherwise, you can find me at a Zumba class.
What were your initial thoughts on succeeding Harve Mogul’s 27-year run as president and CEO?
Harve is a true leader, mentor and friend. And while it felt a bit daunting at first, I know I can count on Harve for counsel, and our broader team every step of the way.
What are you most looking forward to in this new role?
The opportunity to build on great accomplishments and momentum, work with an amazing team of professionals and volunteers to take our work and impact to the next level, thereby continuing to make a difference in the lives of those who need us most.
What do Maria’s first 100 days look like?
It’s all about a listening tour. I started with Harve, our senior team and groups of staff in what we’re calling “Getting to Know You” sessions. I’ll also be meeting with key volunteers and board members, other stakeholders and mentors, United Way corporate and community agency partners and more. Asking lots of questions and getting to know a little bit more about the secret sauce that makes United Way of Miami-Dade such an amazing institution and what more we can do to build a stronger Miami today and for generations to come.
What is your management style?
My colleagues would say that I am dedicated and passionate – I look for the same qualities in them. I like to empower people to do their best, because that’s the only way we can be successful.
Tell us something about you most people don’t know?
After recent interviews and this Q&A, I’m not sure there is anything new to share (laughs). Seriously, I’m excited about the opportunity to be a part of United Way of Miami-Dade, an anchor organization in our community, and continuing to work with other organizations, public and private sector leaders, to build a stronger Miami for all.