Common Searches

Maria Kerford (BA 2004, MPPA 2014)

Maria Kerford grew up in a family committed to Winston Churchill’s belief that we make a living by what we get but make a life by what we give. Maria, who was born in Ohio and grew up in Kansas City, placed a high value on being active in the community and serving others to help make the world a better place.

After high school, Maria’s pursuit of a purpose-driven life reached full stride after enrolling at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, a decision she says was sealed after meeting Bob Bliss, then the dean of the Pierre Laclede Honors College. As an undergraduate, Maria was exposed to the administrative side of nonprofit organizations while working in the Office of Development. From that experience, Maria went on to earn a master’s in public policy administration with an emphasis in nonprofit management.

Maria Kerford

“I had the opportunity to expand my interests and pursue many new opportunities while studying and working at UMSL,” Maria said. “I was so incredibly lucky to have been an involved student and had some behind-the-scenes ‘real life’ experiences.”

Maria parlayed all that she learned at UMSL into a successful career in philanthropy, transforming several purpose-driven organizations in St. Louis by connecting patrons with their passions. Currently, Maria serves as senior director of planned giving at Washington University in St. Louis. Her nonprofit fundraising career also includes previous roles with the United Way of Greater St. Louis, Youthbridge Community Foundation of Greater St. Louis and Solutia Inc.

Despite a steady stream of present and past accomplishments, some of Maria’s fondest memories take her back to her UMSL days, from being selected to be the student representative to the University of Missouri Board of Curators and a resident assistant to meeting her future husband and getting married in the Provincial House Chapel.

"Growth is a personal choice," she said, “and UMSL gave me the ideal environment in which to do so."