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Maria Leister, GMH Faculty

Maria Leister, is a social justice and human rights advocate and consultant dedicated to leveraging human rights frameworks and leadership development programming in order to facilitate healing from trauma. She is also a learning and development professional at Kotter International, a change management firm founded by Dr. John Kotter, professor Emeritus of Harvard Business School. The firm facilitates change at organizations through individual, team and organizational level cultural and behavior change methodologies and processes.

Maria has dedicated the last 20 years serving underserved communities. She started her journey at the Terre Haute Federal Penitentiary where she provided legal counsel to inmates in maximum security. While working with Cuban detainees, her interest in facilitating liberation from the most complex issues increased and inspired her to provide immigration relief for people seeking asylum relief in the United States. After shifting out of legal practice, Maria did extensive work with NGOs where she designed and built immigration services for large scale relief and development organizations. For nearly a decade, Maria worked as the director of a criminal defense clinic at Harvard Law School. Convinced that she could have greater impact, Maria created a number of marquee programs and fellowships throughout Harvard University.

Currently, Maria’s consulting work facilitates cultural change through helping higher ed and NGO leaders who work with underrepresented and underserved communities by creating frameworks for healing and wellness.