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 children, a lawyer, journalist and author of two children’s books and two adult nonfiction books. She leads writing/empowerment retreats for women, and is a co-host of the Inside Out LGBT radio show on WPFW-fm, 89.3, in Washington, D.C. Maria served in the Clinton Administration’s Justice Department, fostered newborn babies awaiting adoption, and has been on the boards of Children’s National Medical Center BOV, the Catholic Coalition for Special Education, GirlsUp and the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Washington. She has written for The Washington Post, Washingtonian, Bethesda Magazine, Parenting, BabyTalk and Washington For Women. She recently returned to practicing law now that her children are launched. Mommy, Why’s Your Skin So Brown?, about being mistaken for the nanny of her lighter-skinned children, is her first children’s book. Healing for Hallie, about the importance of expressing one’s feelings, is her second children’s book. Not the Cleaver Family—The New Normal in Modern American Families, exploring common changes in the composition of American families during this past decade, was released in 2016. Fifty After 50 will be released by Rowman & Littlefield in June 2018.
Maria has spoken at numerous schools and events, including the Mixed Remixed Festival in Los Angeles, The Japanese American National Museum’s Family Day, the Washington Independent Review of Books, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Asian American Month Celebration (as the highest ranking Asian American political appointee then at the Justice Department). Maria counsels women recovering from alcoholism, other addictions and trauma. See www.MariaLeonardOlsen.com for additional information.