María Teresa Kumar is a respected non-profit executive, social entrepreneur, and leader in the Latinx community. She is the founding President and CEO of Voto Latino, which she grew to be America’s largest Latinx voter registration and advocacy organization. Since 2004, Kumar has raised more than $75 million, directly registered over 1,109,000 new voters, and mobilized millions more. Kumar has appeared on MSNBC more than 400 times as an on-air contributor under contract for more than a decade, been on Sunday Meet the Press, Real Time with Bill Maher, NBC Nightly News and other major national programs dozens of times, and is frequently interviewed for newspapers, television, and radio across the country.
Kumar is known for applying consumer marketing strategies to civic engagement. In 2006, she pioneered text messaging for voter registration and mobilization. In 2018, she launched a peer-to-peer voter registration app that the AppStore named amongst the top four political apps. In June 2020 during the George Floyd protests and the pandemic shut-downs, Kumar’s Voto Latino pivoted their approach to meet the moment and experienced a whopping 2750% increase in voter registration. Kumar’s pioneering use of technology, social media and celebrity to inspire transformative change in younger audiences led Fast Company to name her one of the most creative minds in global business.
Kumar deeply understands and is personally part of the fastest growing demographic group in America. This has given her a unique platform to shape some of the most pressing issues of our time, including police reform, gender pay equity, immigration, protecting the vote, and climate justice. As but one example, when child internment camps on the border first became known to the public, Voto Latino quickly organized a rally in the desert of Tornillo, Texas that attracted celebrity involvement and major media. One of the participants was a young woman who had gone through the Voto Latino candidate training program and was just beginning to mount a long-shot race for the US House, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.
Kumar was born in Bogota, Colombia and immigrated to the United States when she was 4 years old. She grew up in California and had her first job at twelve. After graduating from U.C. Davis with a B.A. in International Affairs, she went on to earn her Masters’ in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School. Kumar served as a Senior Legislative Aide to Democratic Caucus Chairman Vic Fazio where she oversaw interior appropriations and trade policy. Maria Teresa Kumar lives in Washington, DC with her husband Raj Kumar and their two children ages 6 and 8. When she’s not in front of a camera or behind a computer screen, you can find her making mischief with her kids — baking, painting, or chasing frogs in the woods.