Civic Leader, Board of Director Member, Advocate
After a year of public service as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Waukegan, IL from 2003 – 2004, Maria moved to Chicago. Like many new residents to our city, she chose Rogers Park because of its affordability, ample public transportation, and proximity to the lake. A weekly regular at The Heartland Cafe, in Rogers Park, Maria found community.
Maria Hadden is the Executive Director of Our City Our Voice, a nonprofit organization she founded to enable communities and government to redesign democracy for a more empowered and equitable participation. Her expertise in public participation is grounded in grassroots organizing efforts for social change.
Before launching her own organization, Maria was a founding board member of The Participatory Budgeting Project, where she worked for 8 years with communities and government officials in the Midwest and South to create and facilitate democratic processes around public budgets. In this role, Maria has also worked with Aldermen throughout Chicago to design participatory budgeting (PB) processes around Aldermanic menu money, school budgets and TIF funds.
Maria currently serves on the Board of Directors of BYP 100, and Voqal. She was also part of a cohort on Inclusive Innovation in America’s Cities for The Aspen Institute working to bridge the gap between innovation in cities and marginalized and underserved communities. In addition, she is an active member of the New Economy Coalition helping to create deep change in our economy and politics, and serves on the Social Capital Committee of the Commissioner Chuy Garcia’s Cook County Commission on Social Innovation. Maria’s local political involvement includes being an active member of Network 49 and United Working Families. She is also running for Alderman!