The Philanthropic Spirit Of María Eugenia Maury

Patricia Abaroa

President and co-founder of AID FOR AIDS, and a passionate supporter of El Museo del Barrio, in New York, the Venezuelan philanthropist María Eugenia Maury is proud of her commitment to humanitarian causes and her contributions to Hispanic culture in the US.

Philanthropist María Eugenia Maury has dedicated time and efforts to empowering Hispanic communities throughout the world. Born in the city of Caracas to a Venezuelan father and Puerto Rican mother, Maury lived a happy childhood. She attended Sacred Heart Schools in Venezuela and Puerto Rico, and later San José de Tarbes, also in Venezuela. In 1991, she moved to New York, where, besides a short stint in Miami, she has lived. Due to political turmoil, visits to her native Venezuela have diminished in frequency through the years.María Eugenia Maury                           María Eugenia Maury.

Although she still has strong bonds that connect her to her native country, Maury now calls New York City home. In the Big Apple, she began to make friends and noticed a commonality among them: a commitment that stirred her inner philanthropist. “Everyone in New York is connected to something. I saw that my friends were very involved with the causes they supported,” Maury says. “I became excited about doing things for the Latino community.”

Since 2001, Maury has served as the President of the Board of AID for AIDS International, a non-profit organization committed to empowering communities at high risk for HIV through advocacy, education, and training. The organization also sends life-saving medications and humanitarian aid to 43 countries and works with the immigrant population in New York City.

María Eugenia Maury                          (L) Dr. William Haseltine & María Eugenia Maury(R) Manuela Arria-Maury, María Eugenia Maury, Camila Arria-Maury.

It was through her work with AID for AIDS that she met her husband, William Haseltine, a biologist recognized for his work in HIV/AIDS research during the 1980s. The former Harvard professor founded two research departments on cancer and HIV/AIDs at Harvard Medical School. Today, Haseltine, like Maury, is involved in a number of philanthropic efforts and has founded two charitable foundations: The Foundation for Science and the Arts and ACCESS Health International. Maury and Haseltine wed in August of 2012, and together, share five children from previous marriages: Karina, Camila, Manuela, Mara, and Alexander.

Maury is also a great supporter of El Museo del Barrio, New York’s leading Latino cultural institution that explores and presents the artistic expressions of the Latino, Caribbean, and Latin American cultures. Along with a wide range of collections and exhibitions, the culturally rich Manhattan museum offers film, literary, visual and performing arts, celebrations, and educational programs.

María Eugenia Maury                   Mara Haseltine, Dr. William Haseltine, María Eugenia Maury.

She became involved with El Museo through the influence of two great friends: artist Tony Bechara and art philanthropist Estrellita Brodsky. After attending events and supporting the museum, Maury became a trustee. While AID FOR AIDS International and El Museo del Barrio are two very different organizations, she believes there is some common ground. “El Museo del Barrio and AID FOR AIDS both do wonderful things, very different things, but, ironically, the art world was a sector that was very badly impacted by the HIV epidemic.”

This year she and Haseltine, who she calls incredibly supportive and a mentor, will chair El Museo’s 2015 GALA. Taking place on May 14th, this year’s GALA embraces a cinematic theme, inspired by a current exhibition: Under the Mexican Sky: Gabriel Figueroa–Art and Film. Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa filmed more than 200 movies in 50 years and became a heralded cinematographer in Mexico and the United States. He was a Golden Globe winner, received the American Society of Cinematographers International Award in 1995, and multiple Ariel awards in his native Mexico. Also on view, paintings from famed Mexican artists like Diego Rivera, Manuel Rodríguez Lozano, and José Clemente Orozco. To capture the elegance and drama of the exhibit, women are asked to dress in black and white and encouraged to wear gloves and veils to the gala.

María Eugenia Maury                           María Eugenia Maury.

This year’s gala honorees–all of Mexican descent–are Museo del Barrio trustee Yolanda Santos, Co-Founder of El Museo de Arte Contemporáneo in Monterrey; Lisa García Quiroz, who oversees Time Warner’s Charity Foundation and their philanthropic efforts as senior vice president and chief diversity officer; and Eugenio López Alonso, founder and president of Fundacion Jumex, one of the largest private art collections in the Americas. The soiree will take place at the historic Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. Proceeds will benefit El Museo’s education programs.

This festive evening is the perfect platform for Maury to show her enthusiasm for El Museo del Barrio. “It’s the most important Latino Museum in the United States. It’s a necessity to have this museum; it represents our art, our culture, and our people. I’m inspired by El Museo, and I love being tied to it,” Maury concludes.

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