Maria Shriver is the mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and an NBC News Special Anchor reporting on the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life. Shriver served as California’s First Lady from 2003 to 2010.

Shriver’s work is driven by her belief that all of us have the ability to be what she calls Architects of Change — people who see a problem in their own life or the community around them, then step out of their comfort zone and do what it takes to create the solution. Her website at MariaShriver.com features the life stories and life lessons of Architects of Change to inspire people to use their own ideas, influence and initiative to make an impact on our world.

With a career in journalism spanning more than two decades, Maria Shriver was a network news correspondent and anchor for CBS and NBC. She took a leave of absence from network news in 2004 when she became First Lady of California, but she continued to train her journalist’s eye on the transformative societal trends impacting women as breadwinners, parents, caregivers and consumers. In 2009, she published the “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything,” which revealed that women, for the first time in our nation’s history, represented half of all U.S. workers. The report examined how that new reality is changing everything about how we live and work today. In 2010, she published “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Takes on Alzheimer’s,” which was the largest study ever conducted to look at the significant impact of Alzheimer’s disease on women who, the study found, make up the majority of patients and caregivers. Both Shriver Reports ignited national conversations about the changing status of women that continue on today.

During Shriver’s tenure as California’s First Lady, she redefined the office by approaching it not simply as an honorary role, but as a job with real purpose and a platform to make a difference. Shriver created pioneering programs and initiatives that addressed the emerging needs of women, the working poor, military families and the intellectually and developmentally disabled.

Under Shriver’s direction and vision, the California Governor and First Lady’s Conference on Women grew into the world’s premier forum for women. Each year, The Women’s Conference, as it came to be known, encouraged tens of thousands of women to become Architects of Change – and invited hundreds of the world’s greatest voices, hearts and minds to teach them how. The success of The Women’s Conference enabled the conference organization to fund programs and form partnerships that empowered women year round, in all areas of their lives. In 2004, Shriver created The Minerva Awards and Minerva Prize to recognize and reward remarkable women who have stepped forward and changed the world with their courage, wisdom, and strength. With Shriver at the helm, the conference became a force for change, directly funding more than $5.5 million in charitable programs that served women on the frontlines of humanity.

During the nation’s toughest economic downturn since the Great Depression, Shriver’s WE Connect program linked millions of low-income working families, many of whom had never before needed help, with financial resources such as the Earned Income Tax Credit, foreclosure assistance, job placement, resume assistance, and other important money-saving programs. The program also provided more than 2 million healthy meals to families in need. Shriver’s The Modern House Call for Women, a groundbreaking three-day health and financial services clinic, provided 5,000 free medical, dental and financial services to nearly 2,500 people. Through Shriver’s WE Invest program and its partnership with Kiva.org, hundreds of women entrepreneurs in the U.S. received micro-loans totaling more than $1 million.

Shriver is one of the nation’s leading advocates for families struggling with Alzheimer’s disease. Her father, Sargent Shriver, was diagnosed with the disease in 2003 and passed away from it in 2011 at the age of 95. In 2009, Shriver co-executive produced the Emmy Award-winning four-part HBO documentary series called The Alzheimer’s Project, which opened millions of people’s eyes to the devastating disease. One of the films in the series, “Grandpa, Do you Know Who I Am?” was honored by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for exemplifying “television with a conscience” and was based on Shriver’s best-selling children’s book dealing with Alzheimer’s. In 2009, Shriver testified before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging to encourage Congress to make Alzheimer’s a national legislative priority. Shriver’s voice was instrumental in the December 2010 passage of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act. In addition, Shriver serves on the advisory board of the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas.

Maria has also been a lifelong advocate for people with intellectual disabilities. She is an active member of the International Board of Special Olympics, the organization her mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founded in 1968. She is also on the advisory board of Best Buddies, a one-to-one friendship and jobs program for people with intellectual disabilities. In addition, Shriver serves as Chair of the Audi Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle, an annual bike ride that raises millions of dollars for programs supporting people with intellectual disabilities. Shriver’s own fundraising team — Team Maria — has raised more than $1.2 million for Best Buddies over the past five years.

Shriver is an entrepreneur and investor in socially responsible companies such as Lovin’ Scoopful, which donates a significant portion of its profits to Special Olympics.

Shriver is a graduate of Georgetown University, with a degree in American Studies.