Photo by Cristobal Palmer

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Maria Palmer

María (Maritere to family and Spanish-speaking friends) came to the US as an exchange student in 1978. She fell in love, married, and eventually became a US citizen, despite her interviewer’s efforts to keep her out because, as a young seminarian, she was “a danger to our country” for being too liberal and a conscientious objector. Still married to Micheal Palmer after all these years, they delight in their three grown children: Cristobal, Benji, and Sofia and their dog Copper.

Before being elected to the Chapel Hill Town Council in 2013, María served as Orange County (NC) Human Rights Commissioner and as a member of the NC State Board of Education (appointed by Gov. Jim Hunt, 1999-2005). María is a bivocational minister; she founded and pastored churches in Kentucky and North Carolina, including the first Hispanic congregation in Chapel Hill, NC, Iglesia Unida de Cristo. Ordained by the UCC in 1987, she is currently a member of Binkley Baptist Church and affiliated with the progressive Alliance of Baptists. While pastoring and volunteering as a chaplain, María has been a public school teacher, an elementary school principal, and a university administrator (University of Louisville, Bluefield State, North Carolina A&T). She has a doctorate in Educational Leadership from UNC-Chapel Hill. She is proud of having been a columnist with The Chapel Hill News for sixteen years, the founder of the first Spanish immersion preschool in North Carolina (Mi Escuelita), and instrumental in bringing language immersion to the public schools of Chapel Hill. She was a Rockefeller Post-doc Fellow at UNC.

Ten Things I Can’t Do Without

  1. The love of my family
  2. My father’s and brother’s emails and other updates from family and friends around the world
  3. My daily homemade salad with avocado
  4. Dogs and babies
  5. My faith communities and the struggle for peace and justice
  6. Deadlines—so I actually get things done
  7. People (I am the definition of extroverted)
  8. Good books, especially novels and biographies
  9. British TV
  10. Showers (if you have lived in Lima, you would also give thanks every time you step in one)