Maria Leonard Olsen

Maria Leonard Olsen is a biracial attorney whose parents were forbidden by law to marry in their home state of Maryland in the 1960s. She practices law as a commercial litigator in the Washington, D.C. area, covering a variety of matters, including contract disputes, employment discrimination and government relations. Maria is an author, podcaster, journalist, TEDx speaker, book marketer/publicist for female authors and mentor to women in recovery from addictions and sexual assault/abuse.

Her latest book, 50 After 50: Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life has helped thousands of women thrive in midlife. She is working on a sequel to that book now. Maria has written books on self-care and the new American family. Her children’s books, Mommy Why’s Your Skin So Brown? and Healing for Hallie, have been widely used as teaching vehicles on diversity and the importance of processing feelings. Her next book will cover the unintended consequences of consumer DNA testing. On her weekly podcast, “Becoming Your Best Version,” available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and four other platforms, Maria amplifies the voices of inspiring women.

Maria graduated from Boston College and the University of Virginia School of Law, served as a political appointee for legislative affairs and policy development in the Clinton Justice Department, fostered newborn babies awaiting adoption, and has been on the boards of Children’s National Medical Center BOV, the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Washington, the Nepal Youth Fund, Catholic Coalition for Special Education and other nonprofits. She was a co-host and co-producer of the Inside Out LGBT Radio Show on WPFW in Washington, D.C. for many years, which is the only radio show on the fm dial in the D.C. market covering issues of interest to the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies.

While in private practice as a litigator in one of D.C.’s then-largest law firms, Maria was awarded Pro Bono Coordinator of the Year by the D.C. Bar Association and, in 2023, was named Distinguished Alumna of the Year by the Academy of the Holy Cross. She has written for numerous publications, including The Washington Post, AARP, Parents Magazine, Parenting, The Midst, KuelLife, CrunchyTales, Authority Magazine and other publications. She served as a contributing editor and writer for Bethesda Magazine and joined Meer as a contributing writer in 2023. Her next book will cover the unintended consequences of consumer DNA testing.

Maria has spoken at numerous schools and corporate and nonprofit events, including the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, the Mixed Remixed Festival, HerStory Circle and the National March to End Rape Culture. One of her book talks was featured on C-Span’s Book TV show. She frequently presents at conferences, retreats and summits aimed at women, primarily in midlife, as well as on diversity issues and challenges for those who have experienced DNA test surprises. She spoke at TEDx at the City University of New York on “Turning Life’s Challenges into a Force for Good.” She has traveled to 62 countries, and strives to see the world. She spent much of 2022-23 in Latin America and will focus on Eastern Europe in 2024.

Maria’s daughter works for City Bureau, a media nonprofit in Chicago, that increases accessibility and coverage for underserved communities, and her son is a social media influencer, actor and media personality in Los Angeles and New York (@Chris on TikTok and @ChrisOlsen on Instagram).

Learn more at and follow Maria on social media @FiftyAfter50 and @MariaOlsen49.

Articles by Maria Leonard Olsen

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