Maria Jobin-Leeds is the Founder and Chairperson of the Access Strategies Fund. Maria Jobin-Leeds thinks at the systems level. Using democracy as a tool, she founded Access Strategies Fund as an opportunity to fund grassroots civic organizations to wield more power. Collaboratively, for 15 years Access, Maria has helped develop leaders, organizations and influenced public policies that positively impact low income communities, African Americans, Latino’s, Immigrants and Women.
Maria believes that community-focused leaders, especially women, should be actively engaged with their constituents in order to think critically about inequitable and unjust policies. She thinks that we must advocate effectively and hold our public representatives accountable. With an eye toward reconstructing the system, Maria and staff incubated the Women’s Pipeline for Change which addresses the barriers to democracy for low-income grassroots women of color. The Pipeline encourages, prepares and supports women to take positions in public leadership and to run for elected office.
The Schott Foundation for Public Education supports the movement for high quality public education in an era when there is pressure to dismantle the largest civil rights project in the country: our free system of excellent public education. Maria’s founding direction keeps the work of bringing students, parents, teachers and policy makers focused and effective at changing the public frame from individual student achievement to opportunity for all with a class, gender and race lens.
The Partnership for Democracy and Education provides the research on viable, fairness-oriented candidates that will lead us towards a just, egalitarian society. As an individual she fundraises for the most promising leaders and provides access to the constituencies that they will need to serve. She has made good use of Statehouse and Washington visits, with community activists and donors to remind electeds about the women and low-income communities that need better representation in our state and federal budgets. She has received numerous community awards, and provides direction for the Opportunity Action fund and the Proteus Action League. She sits on investment committees for the Schott Fund and the Proteus Fund.
Maria’s youth in Puerto Rico and Sudan, family orientation of feminism and civil rights, along with her early career during the first decade of the HIV/AIDS epidemic provided her with rich learning opportunities which continue to fuel her inclusive strategy. She and her husband sent their children to bilingual public schools in Cambridge, MA and they also travel abroad with them to understand other worldviews. She earned her BA from Colby College and EdM from Harvard Graduate School of Education.