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Maria Bello            

Actress, Activist & Vital Voices Global Ambassador

Maria Bello is an internationally renowned actor, women's rights activist, and the co-founder of We Advance, a women's movement and NGO based in Cité Soleil, Haiti. Having starred in over 30 movies (including “Coyote Ugly,” “A History of Violence,” and “The Cooler”), Bello has won Golden Globe and New York Film Critics awards and nominations.

Bello was born in Norristown, Pennsylvania. Her father is Italian American and her mother is Polish American. She grew up in a working-class Roman Catholic family and attended Villanova University, where she majored in peace and justice education and worked at the Women's Law Project in Philadelphia.

Bello founded her first NGO, The Dream Yard Drama Project, in 1997 and travelled around the world to Bosnia, Kenya, Botswana, Bhutan, Nepal, and many other countries interviewing women about their lives, hopes, and dreams. Since 2008, she has worked in Haiti with Artists for Peace and Justice and Femmes en Democratie. Additionally, Bello raised funds and produced a women's media campaign for the 2010 elections and spearheaded the opening of the women's clinic in the Petionville Camp immediately following the earthquake. She is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative and works on gender policy within the Haiti Action Network.

Bello was named Goodwill Ambassador for Women in Haiti and along with Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, she leads a committee for women's empowerment, social business, and poverty alleviation in President Martelly's Council for Investments in Haiti. She is also building the first women's co-op bakery in Marigaux, Haiti, along with her Haitian colleagues.

Maria Bello was named a Vital Voices Global Ambassador for women and participated in the first ever Vital Voices/Bank of America International Women's Conference in Haiti. In 2012, she was a keynote speaker at the State Department's Forum on Impact Investing and was awarded the Starkey Foundation's So the World May Hear Award. She speaks around the world on social impact investing, Haiti, and the "new women's revolution."

She published a book, Whatever...Love Is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves in 2015.

Speech Topics

Disaster Relief, Healthcare & Women's Issues in Developing Countries

Caregiving: A Personal Perspective

Actress and public speaker Maria Bello has a very personal perspective on caregiving. Bello's mother was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma nearly thirty years ago and was told she only had months to live. Now, 28 years later, her mother is undergoing her third round of chemotherapy.

In this captivating keynote, Bello shares how she and her siblings share the responsibility of caring for their mom; they identify their individual strengths, then contribute to her caregiving in a way that draws on those strengths. Bello also stresses the importance of setting boundaries and focusing on self care as a caregiver.

The Importance of Investing in Women

Maria Bello began her career as a women's activist while she was a student at Villanova University. Since then, she has worked with Save the Children, The Feminist Majority, Vital Voices, and Save Darfur, her main focus being the empowerment of women worldwide.

Now the co-founder of We Advance - an organization dedicated to advancing Haitian women's health, safety, and well being - Bello shares her powerful message on the importance of investing in women in this informative, fascinating keynote. Perfect for women's professional or philanthropic groups, Bello shares her insights - gleaned from her years working with and for disenfranchised women across the globe - into how investing in women can quite literally change the world.

You Serve Best by Doing the Thing You Love Most

Maria Bello was studying peace and justice education at Villanova when she found her calling in an unlikely place: an acting elective. Stunned by the realization that acting was what she was meant to do, she looked to a personal friend - a priest - for guidance. His advice? "You serve best by doing the thing you love most."

In this very personal keynote, Maria Bello shares the inspiring story of how she found her way to acting, and how that career path has afforded her a platform to become an agent for promoting global peace and social justice as co-founder of We Advance, an NGO advocating for Haitian women to have full political, economic, and social participation. Her inspiring, entertaining message - perfect for students, professional groups, or philanthropic associations - resonates with audiences who are looking to change the world by pursuing their passion.

Social Impact & Civic Engagement

You Dont Have to be a Saint to be of Service

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