Maria Balcazar Tellez
Program Manager, San Francisco
Maria leads the Food System Vision Prize, a global challenge that supports communities develop bold Visions of the regenerative and nourishing food system they aspire to create by 2050. In this role, she is responsible for managing, developing, and implementing strategies to source inspiring and transformative food Visions for 2050. With a unique background in agricultural engineering and public policy, she loves leveraging human-centered design and systems thinking to unleash creativity and bring innovation into the food space.
Her passion lies in building an inclusive, sustainable, and resilient food system. Prior to joining SecondMuse in 2019, Maria completed her Master in Public Policy at the Goldman School at UC Berkeley, where she focused on food policy and advocated for food insecure and homeless students. She has worked at Food System 6, a non-profit based in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she developed the social impact strategy for their accelerator program designed food and agriculture entrepreneurs. As a consultant at the World Bank, she led LATAM data collection and interpretation for the finance division of the ‘Enabling the Business of Agriculture’ project. She has also worked with Colombia’s National Planning Department (Departamento Nacional de Planeación) facilitating evidence-based policymaking in the environmental sector and with hog farmers in North Carolina evaluating the viability of anaerobic digesters in industrial farms. She believes in the power of community engagement, and has volunteered in supporting immigrant farmworkers and teaching low-income communities how to cook healthy on a budget.
Maria holds a BS in Agricultural and Biological Engineering and a BA in Philosophy from Pennsylvania State University. She also completed a MS from North Carolina State University, where she focused on understanding which national factors affect food security and environmental degradation, and an MPP from UC Berkeley, where she focused on food policy.