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Maria Vertkin

2017 Fellow

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United States

Found in Translation United States

Maria Vertkin is a social worker, immigrant, formerly homeless, and a Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneur. In 2011, she founded the nonprofit Found in Translation, which provides medical interpreter training and job placement to low-income and homeless bilingual women, thereby enabling them to turn their most stigmatized characteristic‚Äîtheir linguistic and cultural backgrounds‚Äîinto their biggest asset in the workforce. This work has attracted recognition and awards, including the 2011 Kip Tiernan Social Justice Fellowship, the 2013 Echoing Green Global Fellowship, the 2015 Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize, the 2015 Richard Cornuelle Award for Social Entrepreneurship, and the 2017 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. Through her work with medical interpreters, Maria’s interest in health disparities deepened and drew her to study public health in order to understand, and ultimately change, the inequalities at the intersection of linguistic human rights, policy, and health economics. Prior to Found in Translation, Maria worked at the nonprofit Rediscovery, where she supported young men aging out of the state foster care system. Shelater led the innovative pilot program YouthHarbors, which nearly eliminated instances of dropout in homeless unaccompanied high school students, a population with an expected dropout rate of over seventy-five percent. Maria graduated from Regis College with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) in 2011.