Biography of Maria T. Bonilla-Giuriato
Maria T. Bonilla-Giuriato is a well-recognized leader throughout the state, nation and internationally. She is an advocate of girls, women, families, youth, social justice and business issues that affect our communities. She has been involved in the community advocating for the disadvantaged for over thirty years. She has worked at empowering families, adults and youth by designing and creating programs that provide excellent healthcare, employment, education, housing, financial, economic development and long-term self-sufficiency skills. Her programs have received awards at local, state, national and binational levels for their impact in the community. Maria has also been a leader in creating ways to raise scholarship monies to provide low-income youth the opportunity to attend universities and colleges. She has raised several hundred millions of dollars in local, state, national and binational education funds for students interested in the healthcare arena.
Ms. Bonilla-Giuriato currently works in the private and government sector as a Principal Consultant and owner of Bonilla-Giuriato & Associates. She has been established for over 22 years as a consultant in the areas of business development, health, housing, education, public relations, government affairs, green technology, non-profit development and binational services. Most recently she established Giuriato & Zmery, International Business offices in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico in the areas of international trade and business development, government affairs, economic development and corporate relations. She and her associates have business and government projects in numerous offices throughout Mexico such as Jalisco, Mexico City, DF., Merida, Hidalgo, Michoacán, Guanajuato and numerous other states. Projects range from government affairs, green technology, bio diesel plants, recycling, water systems, and agriculture, housing, import and export projects.
Most recently, Ms. Bonilla-Giuriato was employed with the State of California as an Appointee of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. In March 2010, she received a new assignment to serve as Deputy Director of External Affairs for his newly created by Executive Order, the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Ms. Bonilla-Giuriato worked in partnership with Communications and International Trade units, due to her vast experience in communications, public relations and government affairs with large corporations, business and agriculture community as well as attendance both as former elected official and business member on trade missions throughout the world.
Previously Governor Schwarzenegger honored Ms. Giuriato with her second appointment in January 2008 to serve in the State of California, Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, Department of Real Estate (DRE) as the Real Estate Industry & Consumer Liaison. Due to her previous experience in the housing industry at both the development and policy levels, she was selected to coordinate with several state departments and the Governor’s office. She worked directly with all real estate industry, banking industry, Federal Reserve Bank, consumer groups, cities, counties, state and federal departments as well as lending institutions to find creative and innovative ways to provide foreclosure prevention efforts and help stimulate California’s economy by encouraging homeownership through special funding and partnerships.
One of her key focuses was gathering information, analyzing and providing community and industry input to the agency and administration. She was a member of the Governor’s Foreclosure Prevention Task Force and assisted in developing housing policy recommendations to address the critical sub prime lending issues. She was part of his legislative bill signing of major mortgage legislation that will protect homeowners in crisis and prevent the collection of loan modification advance fees.
Ms. Giuriato spent the last few years as the Project Director on coordinating the “Project Homeowner” Foreclosure Town Hall workshops being offered free to residents of California to help modify loans and keep them in their homes. This program was created by Ms. Giuriato and was funded through private sectors such as banking, title, insurance, etc. She also implemented the DRE Media and Outreach Public Service Announcement (PSA) Plan that partnered with our national banks, federal government, private and non-profit agencies throughout the state to educate consumers on mortgage fraud, consumer complaints and homebuyer education opportunities. She was very instrumental in the creation of the Financial Literacy programs and serves as advisor to numerous real estate and community non-profits who want to develop programs in their regions.
Due to her extensive experience in numerous areas, the Former Governor’s Office also requested Ms. Giuriato to assist with key initiatives in housing, health, education and funding at the state level. She represented him as a surrogate when necessary at speaking engagements and is bilingual in Spanish and provides media interviews and has facilitated community dialogues on key issues. Ms. Giuriato worked with the Governor’s Office in the planning, outreach and coordination efforts of the Binational Board of Governors in Hollywood two years ago and chaired his Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration events for the last four years.
Her initial appointment was serving as the Executive Director of the State of California Health Professions Education Foundation Board of Trustees. She directed the programs that offer students the opportunity to enter the health professions and serve diverse underrepresented and economically-disadvantaged communities. In return for this support, recipients agree to provide direct patient care in medically underserved areas of California. The majorities of these efforts are in the prime agricultural/farm worker areas of the state. She coordinated directly with the major universities and colleges of the State of California such as our University of California and California State University systems of education excellence. During her tenure she raised over 12.5 million dollars for scholarships.
Prior to the Governor’s appointments, Ms. Giuriato was the Community & Government Relations Director with the Monterey County Department of Social & Employment Services. She was responsible for the governmental policy, public and community relations, affordable housing, community health, agricultural/farm worker needs, economic development, education and strategic planning components of the department and county. She previously served as the Chief Aide to the Monterey County Board of Supervisors. Prior to her role as Chief Aide, she was the former Administrator of the Monterey County Private Industry Council Programs now known as the Workforce Investment Board.
In 2002, Ms. Giuriato was elected to the Salinas City Council, representing District 5. She has served on several states, regional and local boards and was elected President of the California League of Cities, Monterey Bay Division representing over eighteen cities. The Board is comprised of elected officials from the Tri-County areas of Monterey, Santa Cruz and San Benito counties. During her tenure she was very active with the League of California Cities serving on committees, attending conventions, and providing advocacy and support in the promotion of special initiatives and ballot measures which were successful.
Ms. Giuriato’s former and current work experience has a large percentage of her time dedicated to working with elected bodies of government at the city, county, state and federal levels. She has gained extensive experience in lobbying and advocacy on various issues and maintains strong relationships with these institutions. Ms. Giuriato has also established a binational relationship with Mexico and many sectors of their government as well.
One of her many accomplishments was the opening of a Housing Opportunity Center that has assisted over 4,000 families in obtaining home ownership through education and housing counseling services. Ms. Giuriato served as Chair of the Board and Advisor of the Monterey County Housing Alliance, and was instrumental in obtaining funding for the project from the City of Salinas, County of Monterey, Housing & Urban Development, City Redevelopment and private lending institutions throughout California and the United States. She was influential in spearheading efforts to address the predatory lending abuse that affected many communities by working closely with several State, Assembly and Congressional members on legislation. Legislation was passed and a Fraud Prevention Task Force was established in collaboration with the State Attorney General, Federal Bureau of Investigation, State Bar Association, State District Attorney’s Association and numerous city attorneys.
Ms. Giuriato completed several critical projects that prioritized the needs of Monterey County’s and surrounding counties’ low-income agricultural/farm worker families. She spearheaded the first Farmworker Housing and Health Needs Assessment that surveyed the housing and health conditions of farmworkers and their families and engaged several partners including the private, public and national foundations in understanding the need for critical services and education in these communities. These efforts enhanced more effective health outcomes as well as promoted personal advocacy and leadership for the families. She believes that through education and training the community can have a voice and become advocates in addressing their individual and community needs.
Through these efforts, Ms. Giuriato has expanded the funding capacity for several projects and brought local, state, national and international attention to the needs of many. Over eight years ago she coordinated with the California-Mexico Health Initiative office based at UC Berkeley, Office of the President on the implementation of Binational Health Week. Due to her efforts, Monterey County received recognition for being one of the top counties to implement this new initiative. Ms. Giuriato served as the Binational Health Coordinator for Monterey County for the past six years. She also assisted Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties in establishing their first Binational Health activities as well as providing training to other states including Washington, Missouri, Arizona and Texas.
Ms. Giuriato served as Chief of Staff to the Four-County Agricultural Worker Task Force representing Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito and Santa Clara. Her role was the coordination and implementation of a housing platform for Agricultural/Farm Worker communities and collaborative efforts on leveraging funding sources for development and construction of homes. She worked closely with all of the government structures to promote the advocacy for the development of projects.
These efforts captured the attention of Mexico and Ms. Giuriato was invited to attend meetings with former President Vicente Fox and his Cabinet members regarding binational efforts. She met with him and his Directors of International and Community Relations, Health, Social Services and Business Development to discuss the continued fostering of developing partnerships for the regions from which Mexican immigrants migrate to California. She attended several ten-day forums and conferences on health, cultural, government protocol and educational seminars in Mexico City, Guadalajara, Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, Michoacán, Chihuahua and Oaxaca. Many of these tours focus on agricultural/farm worker issues, health policy, bicultural training, clinic design and planning with Mexico’s highest-ranking health and policy officials. She also has worked closely with the Mexican government on foreign trade and commerce and helped foster stronger relations with the Mexican government.
In May 2007, in collaboration with the Mexican Embassy and Consul Generals of Mexico, she finalized the establishment of a binational social services protocol agreement to enhance services for American children born of undocumented immigrant parents. This effort ensured that under the Vienna Convention the children are protected under the protocol in both countries in critical situations that merit dual-country support. This effort has served as a model for other counties and states in the nation.
Ms. Giuriato previously served as the county director to the Coalition of Homeless Services Providers. She was a key member of the FORA-Fort Ord Reuse Authority and worked closely with all cities, county, federal government and former Congressman Leon Panetta as his Education & Housing Co-Chair. Through these efforts and lobbying she was able to set aside funding. Her efforts brought in over 11 million dollars alone for the building and redevelopment of transitional and homeless housing units. She was instrumental in the creation and coordination of the Local Homeless Assistance Committee and managed the completion of Monterey County’s first Community-Based Homeless Services Plan. Throughout the years she directed several Homeless Census and Health Needs Assessments that served as a model for other counties and states.
Ms. Giuriato has received numerous commendations and awards for her efforts from the Governor, Senate and Assembly members for her dedication in developing leadership and empowering youth and families. She was honored as Outstanding Woman of Monterey County and received a Distinguished Alumnus Award from Hartnell Community College. She was selected as a Distinguished Fellow for the California State University Monterey Bay in 2002. She also received a Post Doctoral Recognition from the California State University system for her research and presentation on the “Plight of Farm Worker Communities”. Throughout the years she received numerous recognitions and, most recently, the Mexican Consulate honored her with its highest “Tequio” Award, in recognition of Outstanding Service to Mexican communities.
Ms. Giuriato is very active in leadership development and taught a course at the California State University Monterey Bay titled “Leadership in a Multicultural Society”. She has facilitated and been a speaker at several forums, conferences, workshops, trainings and classes in the area of government relations, green environment projects, technology, real estate, health care, economic development, building corporate relations, social responsibility, education, affordable housing, agricultural/farm worker needs, home ownership opportunities, binational and migrant needs, community health, diversity, community assessment, strategic planning, building collaboratives and leadership development for all ages.
Ms. Giuriato is very proud of her son Armand, daughter Bianca and son-in-law Noah as well as husband Ron and enjoys spending time at their educational, community and professional activities. She also enjoys reading and traveling to other countries.