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GTKY: Maria Kelts, VP of DEI

By Maria Kelts
Published on April 08, 2024

Growing up in Toronto, I was fortunate to be exposed to a rich tapestry of cultures and backgrounds. I grew up with a Muslim father and Catholic mother and celebrated both traditions. This diverse upbringing instilled in me a deep appreciation for different perspectives and a curiosity about the world.


My career journey began in management consulting, where I quickly discovered my knack for selling the work. The partners were intrigued by my abilities and wondered, "Who is this kid?" This recognition led me to transition into marketing and business development roles at firms like KPMG and BDO. It was during a multicultural marketing assignment that I started questioning the lack of representation within our workforce. This sparked my interest in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) work.


Curiosity led me to research DEI, and I discovered that it was not only a field of study but also a profession. Determined to gain a solid background in this space, I made the leap from Toronto to Washington, D.C., to pursue a Master's program in DEI at Georgetown University. Since then, I have had the privilege of working with amazing organizations, constantly seeking ways to provide equal access to opportunities and open doors that would not normally be opened.


My philosophy on DEI is threefold. First and foremost, I design for the masses but always keep the most marginalized in mind. By creating programming and policies that address the needs of vulnerable populations, we can positively impact everyone. Transparency is another key aspect of my approach. Informing employees about their sphere of influence and empowering them to make a difference is paramount. Lastly, adaptability is essential in the ever-evolving landscape of DEI. We must constantly test, iterate, and pivot our work to stay relevant and effective.


My journey in DEI has been driven by the belief that providing equal access to opportunities can change the trajectory of someone's life. I am grateful for the chances I was given and the doors that were opened for me. Now, I am committed to doing the same at scale. Together, we can shape a future where everyone has equal access to opportunities.