Maria Thu Salas joined McKnight in March 2023 as senior project manager in the Office of the President. In this role, she provides leadership and coordination for a portfolio of projects and work streams across the Foundation. During her more than 20-year nonprofit and business career, Maria has earned a reputation as a service-oriented partner and strong relationship builder.

In 2016, she made her entrepreneurial dream of starting her own company a reality when she founded Amethyst Specialty Resources, which provided project management, event management, creative, and administrative services to a variety of clients, including McKnight Foundation. Prior to that, Maria worked for a wide variety of organizations, ranging from member relations with Minnesota Council on Foundations and stakeholder engagement with Wilder Foundation to administration, board, and project management for a mental health counseling clinic, an international real estate firm, and a small family foundation.

Maria is a board member and serves on the governance committee for Youthprise, a local organization dedicated to increasing equity with and for Minnesota’s indigenous, low-income, and racially diverse youth. She is also in her second term as a non-lawyer representative on the Legal Services Advisory Committee, which is appointed by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Maria has a bachelor’s of science in public health, educational psychology, and social work from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in nonprofit management from Hamline University. She lives in Shoreview, MN, is the mother of two teenage daughters, loves yoga and Group X classes at the YMCA, and geeks out over all things Star Wars, Star Trek, LOTR, and superheroes.

Daily mantra: “Choose peace.”

Motto to live by: “Create the life you want to live.”