Latinos of the Business Record Forty Under 40: Maria Corona
Executive director, Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Spouse: Ricardo Corona
Children: Ricardo Kawsay Corona Alcivar
Mentor: Tera R. Jordan, Ph.D., assistant provost for faculty development and associate professor of human development and family studies, Iowa State University
Reasons she is a Forty: Maria co-developed the ICE-reporting statewide hotline. She organized faith groups from various denominations in Story County to support undocumented families and co-developed a statewide DACA fund. She serves as the board president of Al Exito. Maria created policy changes along with educational campaigns at Iowa State University related to equity and inclusion, successfully changing parental leave policies to support birthing graduate students and their partners. She mobilized with the 2016 LULAC Latinos Like to Caucus campaign to turn out a record 10,500 Latinx people to caucus. She received the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award, earning national recognition for her civic and educational contributions. She was a Des Moines Register 2022 15 People to Watch.
What are your goals in your role at your company? My goal is to diversify my team, intentionally engage with grassroots organizations, and build relationships to help enact policy and practical changes to achieve health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. I want to co-create alternatives that increase safety and healing for all survivors of violence.
What are your goals for your community involvement? As part of Al Exito’s board and in any initiative I am involved in, I challenge the misconception that the Latinx immigrant community “needs help.” What we need is the space to develop, opportunities for advancement, access to resources, education, information in our language and safe spaces to exist.
What’s your biggest passion, and why? I am deeply committed to community well-being. I’ve witnessed the pain of racism and the inequitable health, child welfare, housing, food and employment systems. My hope is that we all engage in the difficult and messy work that it takes to transform systems while also supporting community-based solutions.
What is it that drives you? I am a first-generation immigrant from Ecuador who was undocumented for 15 years in the U.S. As part of the Latin American diaspora, we experienced many barriers but my family’s story of resilience has always been my motivation in pursuing lifelong dreams and justice for immigrants.
What are your future aspirations? My career goal is to influence and ultimately change national policy, decisions and programs to bring about equity and opportunity for prosperity to families historically excluded.
Three hobbies: I am a goalkeeper at the Giant Pekes Soccer League, I salsa dance and I love naps.
Fun fact: Maria was arrested for civil disobedience at the Hart Office Building in Washington, D.C., with 500 women in response to the “zero tolerance” policy that incarcerated over 2,500 migrant children.
One word to describe you: Badass.
What is your wish for the Central Iowa business community? Help create the conditions for all to thrive. Remove practices internally that drive inequities, engage in public-private partnerships in rural, low-income and diverse communities, support the advancement of BIPOC women, consult with people living with disabilities and the youth to create agency and community wide changes.
What’s one piece of advice that you would give to a young professional? It is OK to fail and try again. It is OK to make mistakes and learn from them and move on. You will not have all the answers every time. You can learn on the way and you can certainly ask for help – this will only make you better at the work you do. Feel no shame.
What is one issue you would like to see Central Iowa leaders address? It is time to co-create with those directly impacted by social and economic disadvantages. Co-creating can be practiced in different ways. For example, creating intentional spaces for grassroots leaders to determine the agenda with regards to solutions for their communities, invest in youth and BIPOC entrepreneurial ideas, apply participatory grantmaking models as funders/foundations, invest in and support community-based solutions who ultimately are actively practicing health promotion with scant resources.
Profile originally published in the Business Record