Sponsor Spotlight: Marya Meyer, The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade

Marya Meyer grew up in Wisconsin, spent 10 years in Spain after college, and now calls Miami home. The interim director of The Women’s Fund Miami-Dade – whose mission is to address the most pressing issues affecting women and girls in our community – sat down with us to talk about serendipity, women writers, and the critical importance of visionary conversations.

I have to know – how did you end up in Madrid for 10 years?

Senior year of college I went to Madrid, met some people from a record label, they gave me a few little silly jobs, and the next thing you know I was translating the Ray Parker Jr. Ghostbusters press conference. But the record label people couldn’t get there because there was an air strike, so I ended up organizing the whole thing myself – and I was hired full-time a few months later. I call myself the Forrest Gump of the Latin music industry. [laughs]

How long have you been involved with The Women’s Fund?

I’ve been running it for the last year and a half and was on the board prior to that, but I’ve been going to “Power of the Purse” for 20-some years and created the Freedom From Violence coalition with Lisa Schejola Akin – she and myself are with 1 Billion Rising – and we created that with Fran Katz, who was at The Women’s Fund. That was a long time ago, and we now call those impact collaboratives.

How did The Women’s Fund come to be a Miami Book Fair supporter – what about our work resonates with you?

What Book Fair does for this community is priceless – priceless. It allows us the opportunity to focus our intellect and our emotional energy to invest in some of the best and brightest minds. Book Fair helps us to be visionaries by bringing visionaries here to share with us and create a stronger fabric for this community. We love Book Fair.

You’ve lived in Miami a long time. Had you been aware of Book Fair before?

I’ve been going to the Fair off and on for years and personally had the opportunity – I worked with Eve Ensler – to present V [Ensler’s mononym] when she was there, and we had the Viking Freedom Writers help out with some spoken word to introduce her. That was so cool.

It only takes one great story to make a difference –


So I’m wondering what your personal thoughts are on access to literary culture and the kind of programming that Book Fair provides to the community.

All of the arts should have that kind of access. Boy, talk about taking it to the streets – you can wear whatever you want to Miami Book Fair, just show up. And I love that there’s amazing music there. Call people in and make them feel comfortable. I think it’s brilliant.

Where do you think The Women’s Fund and Miami Book Fair’s work intersects?

We’re a nonprofit, just like Book Fair, and we have a lot of fans in common. [laughs] People who are involved with Book Fair are also involved with us, and for the last one it was The Shepard Broad Foundation. One of its board members, Debby Bussel, was the underwriter for our sponsorship of the Fair and wanted to support meaningful conversations – which is why Shepard Broad Foundation supported the ones that they did – and support us at the same time. There were so many amazing authors coming to the Fair, but Anita Hill and Julie Brown are two who are really advancing our work.

In what way?

Women’s Fund has four pillars – freedom from violence, leadership, health and well-being, and economic mobility. Hill and Brown are just such powerful authors, and they both show leadership, which is critical. I was absolutely gobsmacked watching Dr. Hill online, because we’re doing the work that she described. I think people who have the same vision are extensions of one another. And a lot of organizations here, not just The Women’s Fund, are working on that vision for a stronger Miami-Dade by applying a lot of the things that Dr. Hill talks about.

What are some other highlights for you from the 2021 Fair?

I loved being there with Julie Brown, of course – the conversation was amazing – and I saw Amor Towles, who was just so funny and so good. And The Porch was great.

We were so happy to bring that back.

Yoli Mayor was performing – I love her so much – I couldn’t stay away. And Cortadito and Afrobeta were so good, too.

Do you take advantage of any Book Fair programming during the year?

I do! Definitely not as much as I’d like, but I do.

I’d love to know – what are you reading right now?

I just read James McBride’s Deacon King Kong. I loved it – the character development, the musicality, the different rhythms. I just loved it.


Interview by Elisa Chemayne Agostinho.

Share on Facebook Tweet about this on Twitter

Related posts