Former First Lady of California, Broadcast Journalist and Author
Maria Shriver is the mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and one of the world's most influential voices on the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life. Maria Shriver was California's trailblazing First Lady from 2003 through the end of 2010.
Shriver's work is driven by the belief that everyone has the ability to be an Architect of Change, a term she coined to describe anyone who sees a problem in their life or community, steps out of their comfort zone as leaders, and seeks to create the solution. She dedicates her life to creating empowering initiatives, transformative events, groundbreaking reports, inspirational awards and engaging online communities that enable people all over the world to follow in that mission.
With a career in journalism spanning more than two decades, Maria Shriver was a network news correspondent and anchor for CBS and NBC. She took a leave of absence from network news in 2004, but continued to train her journalist's eye on the transformative societal trends impacting women as breadwinners, caretakers, consumers and the world's Architects of Change. In 2009, she published the "The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Changes Everything," which revealed that women, for the first time in our nation's history, represented half of all U.S. workers. The report examined how that fact is changing everything about how we live and work today. In 2010, she published "The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Takes on Alzheimer's," which was the largest study ever conducted to look at the significant impact of Alzheimer's disease on women who, the study found, make up the majority of patients and caregivers. Both Shriver Reports ignited national conversations about the changing status of women that continue on today.
While Maria Shriver served as California's First Lady, she redefined the office by approaching it not simply as an honorary role, but as a job with a real purpose and a platform to make a difference. In addition to playing key political and strategic roles in both of her husband's campaigns, she created pioneering programs and initiatives that addressed the emerging needs of women, the working poor, military families and families struggling with Alzheimer's, and the intellectually and developmentally disabled. Shriver organized her office's innovative initiatives under a banner called "WE" with the goal of showing Californians "what WE can do together when WE come together."
Shriver was raised in a family with a deeply ingrained passion for service, and she set out as First Lady to elevate service to a statewide ideal. Her goal from the very beginning was to make volunteering easy and accessible to all, which led to Shriver conceiving of and launching the largest statewide volunteer matching database at CaliforniaVolunteers.org. Shriver was instrumental in inspiring Governor Schwarzenegger to establish the nation's first state cabinet-level Department of Service and Volunteering. In 2009, she presented the first Governor and First Lady's Medals for Service, recognizing those leaders in the state of California who, through their service, have made an incredible impact in their community. Maria provided opportunities for direct service in California's neediest communities by building 31 playgrounds and community gardens throughout the state.
True to her mission of empowering people to become Architects of Change, Shriver also spent her time as First Lady recognizing, honoring and celebrating the change-makers in California and beyond. As Honorary Co-Chair of The California Museum in Sacramento, Shriver adopted and then revitalized the struggling state museum, recognizing an opportunity to turn it into a must-see destination for inspiring people by California's rich history. To further that goal, Shriver helped the museum attract one-of-a-kind exhibits, create cutting-edge programs, and raise millions of dollars in funding. She created the California Hall of Fame in 2006 to honor legendary Californians who embody the state's innovative spirit and have made their mark on history. It is the highest honor the California Governor bestows on those who have transformed California and the world, and during her tenure, 65 people were inducted into the institution that has its permanent home at The California Museum.
Under Shriver's direction and vision, The California Governor and First Lady's Conference on Women grew into the world's premier forum for women. Each year, "The Women's Conference" encouraged tens of thousands of women to become Architects of Change - and invited hundreds of the world's greatest voices, hearts and minds to teach them how. The conference developed an online destination at WomensConference.org that brought together millions of people around the idea of becoming an Architect of Change. The success of The Women's Conference event under Shriver's leadership enabled the conference organization to fund programs and form partnerships that empowered women year round, in all areas of their lives. With Shriver at the helm, the conference became a force for change, directly funding more than $4 million in charitable programs that served women on the frontlines of humanity. During the nation's toughest economic downturn since the Great Depression, the WE Connect program linked millions of low-income working families, many of whom had never before needed help, with financial resources such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, foreclosure assistance, job placement, resume assistance and other important money-saving programs. The program also provided more than 2 million meals to families in need. Shriver's The Modern House Call for Women, a groundbreaking three-day health and financial services clinic, provided 5,000 free medical, dental and financial services to nearly 2,500 people. In addition, the conference provided academic scholarships to promising young women through its WE Educate program, gave grants to Minerva Award winners through WE Honor, funded domestic violence shelters through WE Act, and inspired people by the remarkable history of their state through WE Inspire. And through the conference's WE Invest program and its partnership with Kiva.org, hundreds of women entrepreneurs in the U.S. received microloans totaling more than $1 million. In 2004, Shriver created The Minerva Awards and Minerva Prize to honor and reward remarkable women who have stepped forward and changed the world with their courage, wisdom, and strength. Under her watch, 33 women received what became recognized as the most prestigious award in the country given to women, and all recipients are part of a permanent exhibit at The California Museum.
Since her father, Sargent Shriver, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2003, Maria has become one of the nation's leading advocates for families struggling with this "mind-blowing" disease. In 2009, she executive produced The Alzheimer's Project, a groundbreaking four-part documentary series that premiered on HBO, attracted 11 million viewers, and won two Emmy Awards. In addition, one of the films, "Grandpa, Do you Know Who I Am?" was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for exemplifying "television with a conscience" and was based on Shriver's best-selling children's book dealing with Alzheimer's. Also in 2009, Shriver testified before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging to encourage Congress to make Alzheimer's a national legislative priority by enacting the recommendations put forth by the independent Alzheimer's Study Group. Shriver's voice was instrumental in the December 2010 passage of the National Alzheimer's Project Act, one of the Alzheimer's Study Group's key recommendations. In 2010, Shriver kicked off her annual Women's Conference with a March on Alzheimer's in Long Beach, CA, which raised more than $300,000 to benefit the work of the Alzheimer's Association. In addition, Shriver serves on the advisory board of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas.
Following in the footsteps of her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Maria has also been a lifelong advocate for people with intellectual disabilities. She is an active member of the International Board of Special Olympics, the organization her mother founded in 1968. She is also on the advisory board of Best Buddies, a one-to-one friendship and jobs program for people with intellectual disabilities. In addition, Shriver serves as Chair of the Audi Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle, an annual bike ride that raises millions of dollars for programs supporting people with intellectual disabilities. As First Lady of California, Shriver was instrumental in the hiring of individuals with intellectual disabilities in the capitol and in various state offices, and her invitations to cabinet officers, legislators and the state's mayors to join her campaign led to more than 150 hires. In 2008, she launched an ice cream company called Lovin' Scoopful; the product is sold in supermarkets around the country, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Special Olympics and other charities.
Maria Shriver is a graduate of Georgetown University, with a degree in American Studies. She has four children - Katherine, Christina, Patrick and Christopher.
To learn more about Maria Shriver, visit: http://mariashriver.com.