AZ Leadership: Dr. Maria Harper Marinick

The list is long and impressive: the first female chancellor of the Maricopa Community Colleges, 2018 Most Admired Leaders in the Valley, 2017 Valley Leadership Woman of the Year, the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year from Arizona, and the executor of Maricopa Community Colleges’ nationally acclaimed transfer program are just a handful of Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick’s accomplishments. Today, she serves as an integral leader in Arizona’s community college education system and a role model for many young people. But Dr. Harper-Marinick’s path to success was not easy.

Dr. Harper-Marinick was born in the Dominican Republic in the midst of the Trujillo dictatorship. Three of her four grandparents were immigrants, a fact she says, “has shaped who I am and how I embrace diversity and inclusion and celebration of all people.”

From a young age, she was drawn to education. Even though neither of her parents received a college degree, they always stressed the importance of education, so when Dr. Harper-Marinick was given the opportunity to attend Arizona State University through a Fulbright Scholarship, she did not pass it up.

She moved to Arizona in 1982 with plans to return to the Dominican Republic, but her experience in the United States was extremely impactful. Rather than return, she decided to build a life with her husband in Arizona. “The freedom to speak and freedom to become all that you were meant to be does not exist in too many other places,” she said.  She credits her time in the Dominican Republic with establishing her value system and sparking her passion in public service.

Dr. Harper-Marinick has dedicated her life to providing the people of Arizona similar educational and workforce opportunities. She says the Maricopa Community Colleges are “known as the colleges of democracy, so we don’t turn anybody away.” Her mission for her students is to provide a clear “pathway to employment” for everyone.

During her time as chancellor, she has worked to advance Maricopa’s transfer program and reverse transfer program, and she strives to have an open dialogue with employers in order to understand how to best prepare her students for the workforce. She is responsible for the employment of countless people in the state of Arizona.

From growing up in a dictatorship, to moving to the United States, and advancing from teacher to chancellor, Dr. Harper-Marinick’s life has been filled with change. Yet, there is one constant – integrity. “That’s the one thing you can’t lose” she said. “I always tell people when I get up in the morning and I look in the mirror, I need to be proud of what I see.”

Lorna Romero

Add comment

Subscribe to the Dry Heat

Get updates on the most important news delivered right to your email. Fully personalized options. No SPAM. Unsubscribe anytime.

Sign Me Up!

Let’s Get Social

Chamber Business News wants to connect with you. Follow us, tweet, share, post, comment... however you get social is the perfect way to connect.