Mari (Maria) is a social entrepreneur and public policy expert. Her work focuses on generating networks of cooperation and articulation of the social fabric in local spaces. She is inspired and driven by the creation of trusting and meaningful relationships and environments. She is the Co-founder and Executive Director of Entramada, a cooperative group based in Santiago that aims to strengthen local communities via work framed as “the good living concept”.
Mari also currently works as a Manager of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation for Triple P – Positive Parenting Program an evidence-based parenting program. Previously, Mari has been a university lecturer in social policy, and served as a social projects evaluator for the Home Office Ministry in Chile and the Presidential Cabinet of the Republic of Chile. She also served as an inter-advisor on social programme evaluation for the Gross National Happiness Commission of the Royal Government of Bhutan.
Aiming to lessen her attachment to the material in favour of the spiritual as a route to greater happiness for herself and her environment, she travelled to Bhutan looking for answers. Her experience there led her to reflect on other factors in inequality beyond the material conditions. She realised that a sense of connection, a capacity for compassion and a sense of belonging can all be embraced by via public policies through different mechanisms that incentive a communitarian and equalitarian perspective. Toward that end, Mari created the initiative Politicas y Felicidad (Happiness and Policies), which promotes the concept of happiness in public policy. On behalf of Entramada, she conducted Chile’s first social impact study based on the happiness approach.
Mari holds an undergraduate degree in Public Administration from the University of Chile and a Master’s in Public Policy from the Crawford School at Australian National University.
If you are aware how inequality affects areas such as access to public services, social networks and life satisfaction, you can open the eyes of friends, family and colleagues. In my work, I realised that those in power don’t usually see the difficulties of the worse-off. While working with them and arguing for the importance of addressing these barriers, I have seen changes to government service provision, including removing these entry barriers. I have also seen how just a simple conversation about something that harms communities or a person can bring about genuine listening (having your heart and mind open), and thus make us more empathetic to our neighbours. This is what you see in fighting inequalities: a change in the mentality of others, and helping people to open their ‘I’ world to an ‘Us’ world, including others’ points of view.