Maria A. May lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh. She is a senior program manager for Social Innovation Lab and Microfinance Programme at BRAC.
In 2011, she went to Dhaka to co-author Making Tuberculosis History: Community-based Solutions for Millions, with the BRAC Health Programme. Prior to that, she spent three years working with Harvard’s Global Health Delivery Project with a particular focus on strategy and scale. She co-authored several teaching cases and academic articles (see all publications).
Maria grew up in southern California and North Carolina. Her interest in social issues began early. Her grandmother, who taught English as a second language at a local middle school, urged her to volunteer in the classroom during spring breaks and free periods. By the time she left for college, Maria had developed a deep commitment to social justice and education. While studying at Harvard College, she quickly became involved in programs to teach science to 4th graders and tutoring inmates at a juvenile detention. After an incident with dry ice and a champagne bottle put a hole in the elementary school's ceiling, she realized that perhaps she wasn't cut out to be a teacher.
Working with juvenile offenders further exposed Maria to the complexities of poverty and well being. She changed her major from statistics to sociology and become more involved in other types of public interest work. She spent two summers working in Chicago, with the Juvenile Protection Agency, the Special Crimes Division at the State Attorney's Office, and University of Chicago. The New York Academy of Medicine offered her an internship her junior year; she took a semester off and learned about urban health issues by walking door-to-door for a vaccination campaign in the Bronx, researching mental health and substance issues, and assisting in other projects.
She wrote her thesis on mothers with HIV in Chicago who had interacted with children protection services, examining their lives and making policy recommendations on how to improve their health outcomes. It received high honors and a nomination for the university's 2006 Ethnic Studies Prize. After graduating in 2006, she moved back to New York for a fellowship with at the State Health Department in their AIDS Institute, National Quality Institute. One of her assignments was to visit HIV clinics and write about effective programs. A year later she transitioned to the Global Health Delivery Project as a full-time case writer, to combine this type of work with a growing interest in global issues.
Throughout her life, Maria has loved traveling. Some of her earliest memories are from Mexico, where she traveled many times with her parents as a child and young adult. She grew up speaking English and Spanish and has traveled extensively through Latin America. Most recently she went to Colombia and fell in love with Cabo de la Vela. She briefly taught English in China, and traveled around Africa and South Asia while working for Harvard. In fact, she came to Bangladesh in 2007 for a few weeks to write a case study on BRAC. Little did she know how important that trip would be! Maria remains very passionate about social justice in the United States, and for the past three years has worked remotely with Teach with Stories, a community-based, prenatal care program for Latinas in North Carolina. In 2012 and 2013, she also consulted for the Harvard South Asia Institute on its activities in Bangladesh.
Maria loves to write and is happy to have this space to express her thoughts on development as an individual. The views here are not endorsed by BRAC or any other institution.
You can follow Maria on twitter @mariamayhem523.