Maria Leonard Olsen

Guest Writer

Maria Leonard Olsen is a biracial woman whose parents were forbidden by law to marry in their home state of Maryland in the early 1960s. She is the mother of two adult children, a litigation attorney, journalist, recovery mentor and author of several books. She leads writing/empowerment retreats for women, is the podcast host of “Becoming Your Best Version” and co-host of the Inside Out radio show on WPFW-fm, 89.3, in Washington, D.C. Maria graduated from Boston College and the University of Virginia School of Law, worked at one of D.C.'s largest law firms, where she served on the Diversity Committee; served in the Clinton Administration's Justice Department, where she helped draft and managed the first Justice Department pro bono program; fostered newborn babies awaiting adoption; and has been on the boards of Children's National Medical Center BOV, the Catholic Coalition for Special Education and the Alzheimer's Association of Greater Washington. She currently serves on the boards of a recovery center, GirlsUp (Advisory Committee) and the Nepal Youth Fund. She has written for The Washington Post, AARP’s The Ethel, Washingtonian, Bethesda Magazine, Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, Parents Magazine, Parenting, BabyTalk, Women’s Day and Washington For Women, among others. She returned to practicing law after her children were launched. "Mommy, Why's Your Skin So Brown?" is her first children's book. "Healing for Hallie" is her second children's book. "Not the Cleaver Family -- The New Normal in Modern American Family," was released in November 2016. Her latest book, "50 After 50 -- Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life," has been used as a vehicle to help thousands of people across the country reinvigorate their lives. Her upcoming book will be about the Pandora’s box of consumer DNA tests. Maria has spoken at numerous book festivals, schools, corporations, nonprofits and events, including TEDx CUNY, the Pennsylvania Woman’s Conference, the Mixed Remixed Festival in Los Angeles, The Japanese American National Museum's Family Day, the Washington Independent Review of Books, the National March to End Rape Culture and the U.S. Department of Justice's Asian American Month Celebration, as the then-highest ranking Asian American political appointee. Her book talk has been featured on C-Span’s "Book TV" show and her latest book was selected for the National Book Fair at the National Press Club. See for more information.

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