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Nov 2017

Meet the LGBTQ MBA Fellows: Maria Del Toro

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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.


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.

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Aug 2017

ROMBA Student Leader Profile: Elsa Rodriguez

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In addition to Reaching Out’s staff, each year the Reaching Out LGBTQ MBA & Graduate Conference’s content is developed and produced by MBA & graduate students from business schools across the world. These core group of the students working on the ROMBA Conference are known as the “Student Leadership Committee.”  The Leadership Committee comes up with the conference’s theme, ideates all breakout sessions, and is seen prominently on the ground at the conference!

Over the next few weeks we’ll highlight each of this year’s 11 organizers and share some of their tips for those planning to attend this year’s 20th ROMBA Conference in Boston (Oct 12-14), which this year will include an inaugural Professional Day for alumni and our 20th ROMBA Gala Celebration with Anderson Cooper!  

Not only will the leaders tell you what they are most excited about for this year’s conference, but they’ll also give inbound LGBTQ MBA students tips on the summer internship search & experience!

LGBTQ MBA & business graduate students, alumni and applicants can register
for the 20th ROMBA Conference in Boston (October 12-14) here.

Name: Elsa Rodriguez

School (Program/Concentration): University of Chicago Booth School of Business Full-Time Program (Concentrations in Entrepreneurship, Strategic Management and Managerial & Organizational Behavior)

Summer Internship: Senior Program Manager at Amazon, Seattle, WA

How did your first year in business school prepare you for your summer internship?
Through coursework based in cases, lab courses and real-world projects, I learned to identify key business challenges and create a structured approach. From there, I was able to apply knowledge in identifying the necessary information and building an analysis that could give me insight or further information about the problem at hand.What experience(s) do you hope to take away from your Internship this summer?

What experience(s) do you hope to take away from your Internship this summer?
I hope to take away the ability to not only present a pitch or a deck, but truly write out a business problem and approach in a more academic fashion. I also hope to keep the spirit of driving my own investigation, finding resources and continuing to ask for support and help when needed.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice going into summer internships you can offer the Class of 2019?
The summer is a great chance to both explore the company and the location. Identify a few things you want to try or departments you want to hear about, plan some weekend adventures and go to talks at work. I would also ask yourself, “what skillset or experience do you hope to gain from this summer” and communicate that to your team or find places where you can build that space for learning for yourself.

What are you most excited about for 2017 ROMBA Conference?
Going back to ROMBA this year feels like a reunion. Over the past year we have gotten to connect with LGBTQ students from other schools at a few events, work remotely on projects or even live in the same city over the summer. It will be amazing to see everyone again and meet the new class of 1Ys!

Any advice you have for people going into the ROMBA Conference for the first time?
A big chunk of the experience will feel very recruiting-based, which can get tiring, but you get to start that process in a welcoming setting. Outside of recruiting, meet people! The MBA community is small and you will most likely get to connect with these folks again. It is a great place to forge connections outside of your own program.

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