MARIA LEONARD OLSEN is a biracial woman whose parents were forbidden by law to marry in their home state of Maryland in the early 1960s. She is the mother of two children, a lawyer, journalist and author of two children's books and two non-fiction books. She leads writing/empowerment retreats for women, and is a co-host of the Inside Out radio show on WPFW-fm, 89.3, in Washington, D.C. Her public speaking events include such topics as using self-care to become your best version, home/work balance, meditation for busy people.
Maria graduated from Boston College and the University of Virginia School of Law, served in the Clinton Administration's Justice Department, fostered newborn babies awaiting adoption, and has been on the boards of Children's National Medical Center BOV, the Catholic Coalition for Special Education, GirlsUp and the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Washington. While in private practice as a litigator in then one of the then-largest law firms in Washington, D.C., Maria was awarded Pro Bono Coordinator of the Year by the D.C. Bar Association.
She has written for The Washington Post, Washingtonian, Bethesda Magazine, Parenting, BabyTalk and Washington For Women, and is a contributor to Thrive Global, Up Journey and BreaknLinks. She recently returned to practicing law now that her children are launched. Mommy, Why's Your Skin So Brown? is her first children's book. Healing for Hallie is her second children's book. Not the Cleaver Family--The New Normal in Modern American Family, was released in November 2016. Her latest book, 50 After 50--Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life, was published in hardcover in 2018, and in paperback and on Audible in 2019.
Maria has spoken at numerous schools and corporate and nonprofit events, including the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, the Mixed Remixed Festival in Los Angeles, The Japanese American National Museum's Family Day, the Washington Independent Review of Books, the National March to End Rape Culture, a motivational speaker at corporate and trade association meetings, and the U.S. Department of Justice's Asian American Month Celebration (as the then-highest ranking Asian American political appointee at the Justice Department). Maria is available for speaking engagements and book or diversity festivals. Her book talk has been featured on C-Span’s Book TV show, and her latest book was selected for the National Press Club’s Book Fair.