- Full Name Maria Teresa Kumar
- Occupation Political Rights Activist, President and CEO of Voto Latino
- Nationality Columbian- American
- Birthplace Bogota, Colombia
- Birth Date 1974 (Exact Birth Date Not Disclosed)
Maria Teresa Kumar | BiographyEmmy-nominated Contributor With MSNBC
Passionate about political activism from a young age, Maria Teresa Kumar eventually realized the importance of technology in effective political activism and community organizing. “What young people need more than anything is information,” Kumar told Americas Quarterly in 2011. For the same purpose, she teamed up with actress Rosario Dawson to launch a nonpartisan civic media organization called Voto Latino in August 2004 in New York City. Voto Latino is currently based in Washington, D.C.
Maria Teresa Kumar is the president and CEO of the Voto Latino, a nonpartisan civic media organization based in Washington, D.C.
Who Is María Teresa Kumar?
Maria Teresa Kumar is a Colombian American political rights activist. In 2004, Kumar and actress Rosario Dawson founded Voto Latino, which focuses on educating and empowering a younger generation of Latinx voters and creating inclusive democracy. She is also an Emmy-nominated contributor with MSNBC. She garnered an Emmy nomination in 2010 for ‘Outstanding News Discussion and Analysis’ for co-hosting the MSNBC TV special Beyond Borderlines. Elle Magazine named her one of the top ten most influential women in Washington, D.C. in 2013.
Maria Teresa Kumar was born in Bogota, Colombia, in 1974. She grew up in a bicultural family in Sonoma County, California, but spent most summers in her native Colombia. Growing up, Kumar witnessed how her mother struggled to make ends meet when her father fell ill. Her mother sought help from the social services but learned that those services are inaccessible to immigrants in California. This eye-opening experience eventually ignited her passion for political activism at an early age. At age 12, she attended a class trip to Washington D.C. and cut her teeth on political activity.
Education and Early Career
Kumar’s passion for advocacy led her to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs and Economics from the University of California, Davis, in 1996. After graduation, she worked as a senior legislative aide for California congressional representative and chair of Democratic Caucus Vic Fazio in the United States House of Representatives for two years, from August 1997 to August 1999.
She then got a Master’s degree in Public Policy (MPP) from the John F. Kennedy School of Government (Harvard Kennedy School) at Harvard University in 2001. After that, she joined a research company called The Advisory Board Company in January 2002 as an associate director. After serving there for a year, she joined LawMedia in February 2003. There, she served LawMedia as a regional director till November 2004.
Passionate about political activism from a young age, Kumar eventually realized the importance of technology in effective political activism and community organizing. “What young people need more than anything is information,” Kumar told Americas Quarterly in 2011. For the same purpose, she teamed up with actress Rosario Dawson to launch a nonpartisan civic media organization called Voto Latino in August 2004 in New York City. Voto Latino is currently based in Washington, D.C.
The organization creates digital marketing campaigns to encourage and empower young Latinos to register to vote. It also advocates for inclusive political participation. As Voto Latino's CEO and president, Kumar has the goal of “franchising as many people as possible to make sure we have a healthy, robust, and transparent democracy.”
Under her leadership, Voto Latino launched many campaigns. For example, in 2006, it launched the Text2Represent campaign, the first-ever voter registration effort via text messaging. In 2008, Voto Latino produced a telenovela miniseries that stressed the importance of registering to vote that got more than two million views on YouTube as of May 2021.
Voto Latino later launched a campaign, Be Counted, an initiative to ensure that Latinos were counted in the 2010 Census. For the campaign, Coto Latino and MTV’s Latino channel TR3s aired public service announcements that attracted over 500k views on YouTube and generated 15,000 pledges to fill out the Census. The campaign also generated $150 million in federal funding for Latino communities.
In November 2010, the organization collaborated with MSNBC to produce Beyond Borderlines; the first English language town hall focused on Latinos’ issues in the United States. Kumar and MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell co-hosted the two-hour live special Beyond Borderlines.
Furthermore, Voto Latino partnered with influencer America Ferrera in June 2012 to launch the campaign called America4America to deliver a message to young Latinos that “united we build a better country.” Kumar also collaborated with renowned celebrities and influencers, including Wilmer Valderrama, Jennifer Lopez, Eva Longoria, and Jessica Alba, for Voto Lanito’s various campaigns.
In March 2016, Voto Latino launched a voter registration app called VoterPal to ease vote registration. According to the official website of the organization, Voto Latino has registered more than 601k voters until November 2020.
In addition, Kumar has been a regular contributor to MSNBC as a political commentator since 2009. She also hosted a web show called Changing America from January 2015 to February 2016.
In 2010, Kumar was nominated for an Emmy for the ‘Outstanding News Discussion and Analysis’ for co-hosting the MSNBC TV special Beyond Borderlines. In 2013, she was labeled one of the ten most influential women in Washington, D.C., by Elle Magazine. Kumar was also listed in Fast Company’s 100 Creative Minds in Business, Hispanic Business 100 Most Influential Latinos in America, and PODER Magazine’s 20 Most Influential Latinos Under 40. In addition, she was a part of the Young Global Leaders Forum in 2014. Furthermore, Kumar was included in Washington Life Magazine’s Power 100 list. In 2020, she was recognized as a National Women’s History Alliance Honoree.
Kumar is married to Raj Kumar, the president of a media company called Devex. The couple has two children, namely Lucia Mercedes and Eduardo. They currently live in Washington, D.C.