- Gender: Female
- University: Barnard College
- Undergraduate Degree: Latin American Studies
- Organization: NPR's "Latino USA"
- Position Title: Executive Producer and Anchor
- Organization: The Futuro Media Group
- Position Title: President
Maria Hinojosa was born in Mexico City, the youngest of four children. Her father was a doctor, and her mother was a social worker. The family moved to Brookline, Massachusetts, when Maria was one year old, and later moved to Chicago. They frequently traveled to Mexico to visit relatives. In a review of her memoir, Once I Was You, Peter Copeland, former editor and general manager of Scripps Howard News Service, notes that Maria ended up with a “…sense of not belonging to either Mexico or the United States.”
Despite her challenges, she made her way to Barnard, a liberal arts college for women, affiliated with Columbia University. She graduated magna cum laude, with a BA in Latin American Studies, and minors in Political Science and Women’s Studies. While there, she also found her real passion—radio—when she took a job as producer and host of Nueva Canción y Demás, a program that aired on WCKR, Columbia University’s student radio station.
In an interview with podcast The Mash-Up Americans, she said that her family understood the importance of journalism and a free press, and she recalls how this environment, and her own experiences, drew her towards radio.
“We were big consumers of the evening news and the morning shows,” she said. “The radio was on all the time. But we never saw our realities being told. And because I was always a border crosser, from the US to Mexico to Hyde Park to Pilsen [a Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago], I had always seen multiple realities. I felt like there was a story that needed to be told about this.”
Her first job after college was as a production assistant at National Public Radio (NPR) in Washington. That position grew into a lifetime career in journalism that includes reporting for CNN, CBS, WNYC, PBS and WGBH. Today, she is the executive producer and anchor for Latino USA, a nationally syndicated public radio program distributed nationwide by NPR.
She is also President of The Futuro Media Group, a multimedia, nonprofit, production company committed to telling the stories of a diverse America that are not easily found in mainstream media. Her current project with Futuro is In the Thick, a political podcast.
In addition to her autobiography, she wrote Raising Raul: Adventures Raising Myself and My Son and Crews: Gang Members Talk with Maria Hinojosa. She became the first Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Chair of Latin American and Latino Studies at DePaul University in Chicago, is Barnard’s Distinguished Journalist-In-Residence, and a columnist for Global Post/Voces.
She has received numerous awards and honors throughout her career, including four Emmys, the Ruben Salazar Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors’ Award for Excellence in English-Language Media.
Her advice to aspiring young journalists, as captured by Hyphen magazine is: "Find the team that’s going to back you up, that's going to believe in you, that’s going to say, ‘Go for it.’ And never stop trusting that gut that’s telling you what’s really true. Our young have to learn to convince themselves to own their power and their own voice.”