Five provocative questions answered by an inspiring and fabulous woman – a woman with something to say.
Meet Maria Johnson Darby
Maria Johnson Darby, a seasoned nonprofit professional with 20 years of board development, management, fund development, communications and production experience, is currently the Director of Development for The SEED School of Maryland. In this role, she and her team are responsible for securing the funds necessary to ensure that every SEED student, regardless of where they start, will graduate from SEED and go on to graduate from college. During her years as an advancement professional, she has raised millions of dollars for organizations, led capital campaigns, developed a multitude of philanthropic partnerships, led nominating and board governance efforts, managed hundreds of grants and grant reporting processes and developed on-going media and community partnerships in Maryland. Because of her passion to support the growth of young people, SEED is her dream job – helping underserved children create incredible futures for themselves.
People would be surprised to know that: People might be surprised to know that instead of just reading about DIY projects and garden creation, I have actually become a bit of a home renovator myself – learning to lay flooring, grout and build banisters. Of course, although I still prefer reading about it or better yet supervising my husband doing it, I have realized that I do enjoy getting my hands dirty every once in a while with my own DIY project – a little Woman Power in Action!
The WTL 5:
What’s the conversation that changed your life?
When I was 18 my mom was dying from cancer: in one of our last conversations she said to me, “Maria, you are strong, you are smart and you will go far. Never doubt yourself and only surround yourself with positive people. Aim high but never forget to have fun. Laughter will always get you through a tough situation. Last but not least – don’t smoke!” I have never forgotten my mom’s words; this conversation was her last gift to me.
What are you most conscious of today?
As I get older I think I am far more conscious of the small ways we impact others each and every day – the words we say or don’t say, the praise we share or withhold, the smile we give or not and the opportunities to help a stranger, a child, and the friend, family member or colleague that we take or pass up. I’m trying to live each day cognizant of the influence I have, often subconsciously, on the people I interact with and the world I live in; I want that influence to be positive.
What part of you have you yet to give voice to?
I haven’t yet found the strength to find my healthier living voice. In my mind I know that I need to exercise more and to get to a healthier weight, yet in my heart I haven’t found the motivation to give life to that voice in my head. As I head into the second half go my forties, I continue to struggle with this issue, not yet having enough willpower to make the life changes I need to make.
What’s the conversation women need to be having collectively?
The collective voice of women is beyond powerful and we need to use that power to positively impact children. The fact that children in the richest nation in the world are living in poverty is simply unacceptable. Children should have access to healthy food, a decent education and a safe living environment. My professional and volunteer commitments are focused on this issue and I believe that women working together can create a better world for our children, not in a hundred years but rather right now, starting today.
What needs to be said bigger, louder, stronger?
I think Gandhi said it best – “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Imagine what the world would be like if we all truly lived this way?! I want to shout it from the roof tops – stop telling other people what they should or shouldn’t do and just live your life in a way that models care of self, care of others and care of the earth.
Thank you, Maria, for sharing your powerful voice
with WomanTalk Live.