2022 Member Profile: Maria Luisa Marquez, MD, FAAP
Maria Luisa Marquez’s commitment to social justice began very early in her life. As a young child in Caracas, Venezuela, she attended an experimental school which was developing a model of diversity, equity and inclusion with a leading faculty. The school charged affordable tuition augmented by scholarships with the premise that education is power and the tool for advancement. It was a lived lesson that guides her today.
Following high school, Maria Luisa took a year off, traveling in Europe, to consider what path to take…engineering, architecture or science…ultimately opting for a 7+ year university program culminating in her medical degree. The decision to emigrate to the United States for advanced training was multi-determined. She cautioned that one should not stereotype immigrants. Her mother was raised and educated in the United States (as were her siblings); Maria Luisa had spent time in New York and probably knew its streets better than Caracas. She described herself as an international citizen who was always “ready to go.” The driving force, however, was “safety” and the political situation in Venezuela had become very difficult. She came to the Washington DC with her husband and three sons and did her Internship, Residency and Chief Residency in Pediatrics at Georgetown University Hospital.
For many years Maria Luisa pursued an academic medical career with a particular interest in the professional identity formation of medical students at Georgetown where she is a Professor. As an immigrant, as a Latina and as a woman, she was repeatedly told she had fewer options. In addition, Medicine itself has become an increasingly difficult and stressful profession. She also noted from a clinical care perspective how critical it was to see the whole person…each person’s gifts and challenges…not just their illness but potential for growth. She worked to see how Georgetown could intentionally teach professional identity through curriculum development and individual coaching throughout training so medical students will advocate for self-care and wellness as determinants of health.
In 2016, Dr. Marquez became Medical Director, Fort Totten Clinic, Mary’s Center Maternal Infant Health. She describes Mary’s Center as a transformative agency, empowering women and working to break the cycle of poverty and strengthen community. When Jen Burton, a good friend whom she met when their children attended school together years back, introduced her to Impact100 DC she recognized another organization which helps “make dreams happen” and was eager to join. She has enjoyed reviewing health related grants using the equity lens of Impact100.
A busy woman, Maria Luisa enjoys walking, especially in a “green city” like Washington which reminds her of Caracas; “I really need that!” Her entire family loves cooking…even competitively when time allows, including her sons who are now young adults. Cooking brings them joy and allows to them to connect with each other and many others.