Marie brings a wealth of personal and professional experience to the Ihangane Project. She received her M.A. in English from the National University of Rwanda and studied Economics at Lycée Notre Dame de Citeaux in Kigali, Rwanda. She serves on the Santa Cruz County Women’s Commission and currently works with the Monterey Institute of International Studies as a Rwanda Practicum Instructor for Development Project Management Institute (DPMI). As the Political Affairs Officer for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), she played a major role in convincing 7 African countries to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention Treaty. She worked as a Program Specialist for the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Mali for several years, as well as Program Officer for UNDP in Kenya, Central African Republic, and Rwanda. Since moving to California in 2008, Maria has remained actively involved in international development through her work with Malaria No More, Netherlands, Seeds of Empowerment, Teach AIDS, One World Children’s Fund, and Firelight Foundation. She believes strongly that providing opportunities for empowerment, especially for poor women, will lead to long lasting poverty alleviation.