Before being elected to the Chapel Hill Town Council in 2013, María served as Orange County (NC) Human Rights Commissioner and as a member of the NC State Board of Education (appointed by Gov. Jim Hunt, 1999-2005). María is a bivocational minister; she founded and pastored churches in Kentucky and North Carolina, including the first Hispanic congregation in Chapel Hill, NC, Iglesia Unida de Cristo. Ordained by the UCC in 1987, she is currently a member of Binkley Baptist Church and affiliated with the progressive Alliance of Baptists. While pastoring and volunteering as a chaplain, María has been a public school teacher, an elementary school principal, and a university administrator (University of Louisville, Bluefield State, North Carolina A&T). She has a doctorate in Educational Leadership from UNC-Chapel Hill. She is proud of having been a columnist with The Chapel Hill News for sixteen years, the founder of the first Spanish immersion preschool in North Carolina (Mi Escuelita), and instrumental in bringing language immersion to the public schools of Chapel Hill. She was a Rockefeller Post-doc Fellow at UNC.