Maritessa Bravo Ares serves as a Community Engagement Officer at Beneficial State Foundation. In her role, Maritessa spearheads small business engagement and community relations strategy in multiple markets, drives new initiatives from concept to execution, and develops the next generation of socially-responsible leaders through the flagship fellowship program. She is attracted to big, ambitious ideas as catalysts for social change and has a strong passion for people, justice and equity.
Leveraging her diverse professional experiences spanning over a decade, Maritessa has built a track record in governmental relations, public policy, advocacy, project management, program design and the recruitment of new talent. She first began her career in Sacramento as a Legislative Analyst with the California School Boards Association working on K-12 education policy issues. During the height of the Great Recession, Maritessa felt a deeper calling to be closer to the communities most impacted by economic distress. This sense of urgency inspired her to join Green For All, a national organization working to build an inclusive green economy, where she managed several projects aimed at supporting marginalized communities, green businesses and socially-responsible entrepreneurs. Throughout her professional endeavors, Maritessa has sought to address inequality and provide solutions to expand opportunities for more people.
As the daughter of a California farm laborer who only had a 6th grade education, Maritessa is proud to be the first person in her family to graduate from college. Through her father’s example, she learned the values of hard work, sacrifice, generosity and a love for building her community. Maritessa is deeply passionate about developing career and leadership pipelines for individuals with similar backgrounds and committed to civic engagement, public service and the advancement of women, children and people of color. In her spare time, Maritessa mentors and opens doors for other young people, including in an official capacity with the East Bay College Fund and LEAD Filipino. Her greatest joy is celebrating the success of those she has mentored or supported. She is also the former Chair of the City of Berkeley’s Commission on the Status of Women and currently is the State Treasurer for the Asian Pacific Islander Democratic Caucus of the California Democratic Party, among other leadership roles. Due to her contributions, Maritessa has been honored for her civic leadership by Ignite California with its “Orange Ember” Award in 2014 and recognized by the Filipina Women’s Network in 2012 as one of the “Top 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the United States” at the age of 28.
Maritessa received her Bachelor’s Degree in 2005 from the University of California, Berkeley (Go Bears!). As an active alumna, she has served on the Board of Directors of the California Alumni Association and often returns to campus to provide students career advice on opportunities in the nonprofit and responsible business sectors. She currently lives in Berkeley, California with her life partner who also shares her dedication to public service and a love of the great outdoors.