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Maria Shriver

The Womens Conference

How She Empowers Others

Maria Shriver is a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend, who proudly served as the First Lady of California. An award-winning journalist and best-selling author, Shriver transformed the office of First Lady by approaching it not simply as a role, but as a job with real purpose and a platform to make a difference.  Shriver became California’s First Lady when her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, became the 38th Governor of California on November 17, 2003.

From day one, Shriver made the position her own by combining her journalist’s eye for the needs of real people, with a deeply-ingrained passion for service and activism, and a creative entrepreneurial spirit and vision that embraces bold ideas.  She used her voice to advocate on behalf of women, the working poor, the intellectually disabled and families struggling with Alzheimer’s.

Shriver created groundbreaking programs and initiatives that have educated, enlisted, empowered, connected, and honored people who are what she calls “Architects of Change” in their own lives and in the lives of others.  Under a banner called WE, the WE programs have successfully motivated people to get involved and unite across gender, economic, and party lines.

Under Shriver’s leadership, The California Governor and First Lady’s Conference on Women – an element of the WE Empower program -- grew into the nation’s premier forum for women, with more than 14,000 attendees every year since 2004.  The conference has encouraged women to become “Architects of Change” in their own lives, in their communities, and in the country – and has taught them how.  Hundreds of world opinion leaders and newsmakers have spoken at the conference, including Oprah Winfrey, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Madeleine Albright, Barbara Walters, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bono, and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Beyond her role as First Lady, Shriver has released groundbreaking reports - the first of which, The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Changes Everything, is a multi-faceted project, in partnership with the Center for American Progress and the University of Southern California's Annenberg Center of Communication Leadership and Policy. It takes a new, empirical look at the status of American women, who, for the first time, make up half of the nation's workforce.  The second, The Shriver Report: A Woman's Nation Takes on Alzheimer's, was released in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association. It is an examination of the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on American women. This report is a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary anthology of every facet of Alzheimer’s disease – medical, sociological, political, and economic.

Shriver is also a vocal advocate for families that -- like her own -- are struggling with Alzheimer’s disease. She was Executive Producer of The Alzheimer’s Project, a groundbreaking four-part documentary series that premiered on HBO and won two Emmy Awards. One of the films, “Grandpa, Do you Know Who I Am?” is based on Shriver’s best-selling children’s book dealing with Alzheimer’s.

Shriver also executive-produced the critically acclaimed “American Idealist: The Story of Sargent Shriver.” The documentary aired on PBS and chronicled the life, accomplishments, and vision of her father, Sargent Shriver.  Shriver serves on the advisory board of the Sargent Shriver Peace Institute, which raises public awareness of her father’s legacy as a peacebuilder and offers educational and training programs grounded in the principles of public service that motivate the many programs he created, including the Peace Corps, Job Corps, Head Start, and Legal Services for the Poor. In addition, she serves on the advisory board of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, a new institute that will serve as a national resource for the most current research and scientific information for the treatment of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and Huntington 's diseases.

With a career in journalism spanning more than two decades, Shriver has been a network news correspondent and anchor for CBS and NBC, winning Peabody and Emmy Awards. She is the author of six New York Times best-selling books.  Shriver is also a small business owner. In February of 2008, she launched an ice cream company called Lovin’ Scoopful in supermarkets around the country. A portion of the proceeds from Lovin’ Scoopful benefits the Special Olympics and other charities.

Shriver is a graduate of Georgetown University, with a degree in American Studies. She and Governor Schwarzenegger have four children – Katherine, Christina, Patrick, and Christopher. Shriver says, “When all is said and done, my main goal in life is to raise children who feel they are deeply loved…children who are kind, compassionate and aware of the world around them. If I can do that, I will consider myself a success.”

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