senior executive vice president / principal
Si se puede!
As MG’s multicultural engagement practice leader, Maria Elena designs and implements public will building campaigns and programs to increase participation and engagement, change attitudes and behaviors and amplify the power of voice of traditionally hard-to-reach communities. She also conducts climate and organizational assessments to help guide nonprofits and public sector agencies on issues of diversity and inclusion and cultural change. Her cross-cultural communication experience spans four continents.
One of Maria Elena’s passions is developing strategies that empower citizens to assume an active role in identifying and guiding solutions to the issues that impact them, especially related to environmental justice, human rights, public health, and youth education. She excels at facilitating planning processes and initiatives that bring diverse groups to the table to work toward a common vision.
Maria Elena brings more than two decades of experience integrating multicultural communication to social marketing, branding, resource development, and organizational development. She has led branding and communication teams to reposition organizations to engage new constituents, increase internal employee engagement, expand programmatic and service reach, advance policy, and increase their base of support. She greatly enjoys working with organizations on capacity building for long-term sustainability.
Prior to MG, Maria Elena was Associate Publisher for a national women’s magazine. For six years she served as executive director for a multi-service Latino, community-based organization with programs for alternative education, middle and high school retention, youth leadership development, workforce development, prevention education, and mental health. She also worked internationally for more than eight years in international marketing, executive education, and economic development.
She holds a master’s in business administration with an emphasis in international marketing from Portland State University and a bachelor’s in languages from Georgetown University. Maria Elena is bilingual in English and Spanish and fluent in French. She recently moved back to Portland after opening and leading MG’s Washington, D.C. office for ten years.
- Principal author of two chapters in Advancing Educational Success and Public Health, published by American Public Health Association Press: “Application of a Multicultural Lens to Policy Work in Native American Communities” and ”Using Strategic Communication to Advance Behavioral, Attitudinal, and Systems Change,” 2011
- Principal author, “Increasing Relevance, Relationships and Results,” a white paper on principles and practices for effective multicultural communication, 2008
- Principal author, Authentic Youth Engagement to Advance Policy series and Applying a Multicultural Lens to Policy Work series on behalf of W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 2007–2009
- Co-author, “The Power of Effective Communication” for Exchange, a journal of the Land Trust Alliance, 2007
- Co-author, “Latino Family Engagement in After School Programs,” a publication and policy brief of the National Council of La Raza, 2008
Take a look at Maria Elena’s articles, appearances, and examples of work below.