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Maria Aquino

Senior Program Officer

Maria Aquino joined the Irvine Foundation as a Senior Program Officer in June 2022. Previously, she served as a Senior Program Officer at First 5 LA, an independent public child advocacy organization with a goal to support the safe and healthy development of young children in Los Angeles County. There she oversaw a portfolio of $159 million for programs to improve child and family outcomes.

Prior to this role, Maria was a Program Officer leading a place-based effort at First 5 LA, focused on cross-sector collaboration for initiatives promoting early childhood wellbeing in the San Fernando Valley. In this role, she engaged diverse stakeholders to ensure parent and resident voice informed community plans and budgeting decisions.

Maria also served as an Outreach Liaison and Eligibility Worker at LA County’s Department of Public Social Services. There she cultivated partnerships with community and faith-based organizations to co-locate social services in places families and individuals trust, leading to improving access and enrollment. She also served as a lead in the Placita Homeless Project, a government and nonprofit partnership to secure housing, income and social services for the unhoused community surrounding historic Olvera Street.

Maria was born in South LA and raised in Mexico and numerous cities in Southern California. She serves on the board of the LA Food Policy Council, which works to ensure food is healthy, affordable, fair and sustainable for all. She is also passionate about supporting LGBTQ youth of color and volunteers for various efforts, including fostering queer youth leadership.

Maria holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Women’s Studies with a focus on Gender and Globalization from University of California, Los Angeles and a master’s degree in Public Administration from California State University, Northridge.