Meet the LGBTQ MBA Fellows: Maria Del Toro
The Reaching Out LGBT MBA Fellowship is a scholarship and leadership development program for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and active ally MBAs in full-time programs. Each Fellows receives at least $10,000 funding per academic year (or $20,000 total for his/her/their two years) in addition free access to all Reaching Out programming (including the ROMBA Conference), LGBTQ mentors, digital programming, and a leadership summit exclusively for the Fellows. Since the inception of the ROMBA Fellowship 129 students have received over US$6.2M in scholarship support from participating schools.
This fall Reaching Out welcomed the third class of the ROMBA Fellows. These 56 fellows come from 35 top business schools and over the next month we’ll introduce each of them to you.
41 MBA programs will be part of the Fellowship for the 2017-2018 application cycle. To learn about the Fellowship and let schools know of your interest here.
MEET MARIA DEL TORO (UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO, BOOTH SCHOOL OF BUSINESS)
Maria del Toro is an MBA candidate for the class of 2019 at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Originally from the Bronx, New York, she has dedicated herself to revitalizing and empowering under served communities by building a career in nonprofit development and fundraising for a wide range of social justice, environmental, arts and education organizations. Maria previously served as the Development Officer for the Equal Rights Center, a national civil rights nonprofit dedicated to promoting equal opportunity in housing, employment, and access to public accommodations and government services for all populations. Prior to the ERC, she worked with The White House Project a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization working to advance women in business, politics, and media, where she primarily managed the organization’s foundations portfolio of regional, national, and venture philanthropy funders. Professionally, Maria has also supported the development efforts of several other truly groundbreaking nonprofits including the San Francisco Green Film Festival, SEO Scholars, and the Nuyorican Poets Café. In a volunteer capacity, she is an active advocate for two majors innovation hubs – Latinas Think Big and Be Social Change. Maria is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, where she was a Faculty Scholarship recipient and member of the President’s Commission on Racial and Cultural Diversity.
What made you consider business school?
Though I loved fundraising, I quickly learned that there are more efficient ways to scale impact than through a conventional philanthropy-based nonprofit model. At The White House Project, our Corporate Council members paid annual fees for us to provide training to the women within their companies. At the Equal Rights Center, through our Multifamily Housing Resource Program, housing developers hired us to ensure that their residential units were compliant with accessibility laws. If these models could succeed in accelerating the outcomes being produced, then I could forge a new path—one outside of the nonprofit sector—while still actively advancing social and economic equality through my work.
What are you most excited about in terms of your time in business school?
As nerdy as it sounds, I am most excited to be back in a classroom again! As a grant writer, I have always been writing papers and under deadlines, so that part of school never went away for me. However, I’m thrilled to be back in a classroom with driven, passionate peers to help me grow and push me to my limits.
Who are some of the leaders (in the LGBTQ community, in business, or in society) that most inspire you?
Sonia Sotomayor is my daily inspiration. I keep a picture of Sonia along with the acronym “WWSD?” in all of my workspaces, I throw a birthday party for her every year, I’ve dressed up as her on Halloween, and if I ever write an autobiography the title of it will be “Just Like Sonia.”
What’s one thing everyone should know about you?
Though I have written over $8 million in grants, two of the most unique ones, by far, were for a project focused on conducting cognitive research on orangutans and another that involved converting a food truck into a mobile pop-up arts venue.