Maria Lopez Vento
Vice President for Grants and
Bader Philanthropies, Inc.
“You have to volunteer and fill your mind and your heart with the feeling that you’re really going to make a difference.” These words guide Maria Lopez Vento’s words, deeds, and actions as a parent, Foundation executive, and civic leader.
Dancing is Maria’s superpower. As a young girl, she has fond memories of dancing in the living room with her father to the Beatles and choreographing Solid Gold dance sets to the 80s pop hits with her sister. She also had dreams of being a Fred Astaire dance instructor. So, dancing to support Cristo Rey’s mission of creating opportunities for young people to succeed in life is a win-win for everyone. Maria started her career in philanthropy when she joined the Helen Bader Foundation in April 1992 as an operations assistant. She has held a variety of operations and program roles at the Foundation, including Assistant to the President, Grants Administrator and Program Associate. In 2007, she was promoted to program officer, where she oversaw the Foundation’s Community Partnerships for Youth grants portfolio.
In 2013, she was appointed Vice President - Grants and Impact Investments. In this senior leadership role, she offers strategic guidance over the Foundation’s (FY 21) annual $23+ million investment in nonprofit organizations and socially driven enterprises. She leads a program team focused on Alzheimer’s and healthy aging, arts, employment, youth, urban and Jewish education, social services and other key program interests in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and internationally. She also shares her expertise through service on local boards and advisory committees that create opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, address arts and culture and provide strong-led nonprofit governance oversight.
She holds a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University and a Master's of Business Administration from Alverno College. Maria is the mother of three young adult men, Miguel, Ethan, and Elijah, and is married to her husband, Ryan of 19 years. She is also a devoted aunt to nieces and nephews living in and out of Wisconsin.