Maria Fernandez Latina Trailblazers 2017 Honoree

LatinoJustice PRLDEF chooses a cohort of Latina trailblazers whose groundbreaking accomplishments illuminate new paths for Latinas nationwide. The 2017 honorees fully represent the diversity and achievement of the Latina professional experience. Maria Fernandez; Vice President and Head of Ethica and Compliance North America, Direct Energy is one of the four Latina Trailblazers for 2017. You can meet the other trailblazers and find out more about the event here.

Maria Fernandez is Vice President and Head of Ethics and Compliance North America, Direct Energy. Direct Energy is the North American brand under Centrica, a U.K. company. Maria supports the North America business and ensures that its lines of business, Home and Business, are operating in accordance with the standards developed by Centrica, its customers and the regulators and Centrica's commitment to best practice across the regulatory landscape within North America and the global enterprise.

Direct Energy (DE) is one of North America’s largest energy and energy-related service providers, with more than 5 million residential and commercial customer relationships. With more than 6,000 employees, and $20 billion in annual revenue, DE provides customers with choice and support in managing their energy costs through a portfolio of innovative products and services, including electricity, natural gas and home services in all of North America.

Prior to her position at Direct Energy, Maria worked at IBM since 1992 where held various leadership positions. In her last position, Maria was Senior Counsel, Power Systems, IBM System Technology Group where she leveraged her technical, business and legal knowledge to support the IBM Power Systems and OpenPOWER initiative. Additionally, Maria was a Global Trust and Compliance Officer and she and her team were responsible for the design and implementation of IBM’s global compliance program, communication strategies and employee training modules, with an emphasis on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other anti-corruption laws. Among other roles, Maria was Senior Regional Counsel, Latin America, IBM where she was responsible for a team of over fifty lawyers and contract professionals who managed all legal matters for the Latin America organization.

Maria received her bachelor’s degree (B.A.) in Psychology from Lehman College (City University of New York) in 1989 and thereafter received her Juris Doctor (J.D.) from Cornell University School of Law in 1992. She is admitted to the bars of the States of New York and California and the United States Supreme Court.

Maria is currently a member of Cornell's University Council and she was recently elected to the President's Council of Cornell Women. Maria previously was a Trustee on the Ossining Union Free School District, Secretary and Development Committee Co-Chair on the Board of Latino Justice – PRLDEF and Member of the Advisory Board of the Pre Law Institute at John Jay College. Maria has three children and currently resides in Houston and New York.

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