Maria Leonard Olsen

Maria Leonard Olsen (Non-Fiction) | Washington, DC

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Maria Leonard Olsen is a biracial woman whose parents were forbidden by law to marry in their home state of Maryland in the early 1960s. She is the mother of two children, a lawyer, journalist and author of two children’s books. She leads writing/empowerment retreats for women and teens, and is a co-host of the Inside Out radio show on WPFW-fm, 89.3, in Washington, D.C. Maria graduated from Boston College and the University of Virginia School of Law, served in the Clinton Administration’s Justice Department, fostered newborn babies awaiting adoption, and has been on the boards of Children’s National Medical Center BOV, the Catholic Coalition for Special Education, GirlsUp Advisory Board and the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Washington. She has written for The Washington Post, Washingtonian, Bethesda Magazine, Parenting, BabyTalk and Washington For Women. She recently returned to practicing law now that her children are launched. Mommy, Why’s Your Skin So Brown?, about being mistaken for the nanny of her lighter-skinned children, is her first children’s book. Healing for Hallie, about the importance of expressing one’s feelings, is her second children’s book. Not the Cleaver Family—The New Normal in Modern American Families, exploring common changes in the composition of American families during this past decade, was released in 2016. Maria has spoken at numerous schools and events, including the Mixed Remixed Festival in Los Angeles, The Japanese American National Museum’s Family Day, the Washington Independent Review of Books, and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Asian American Month Celebration (as the highest ranking Asian American political appointee then at the Justice Department). Maria counsels women recovering from alcoholism, other addictions and trauma. See for additional information.


50 After 50–Reframing the Next Chapter of Your Life (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018). Self-Help. Non-Fiction.

Blurbs, Press & Reviews

“Maria’s honesty about becoming herself is inspiring to women of all ages–her journey toward living authentically reads as urgently as a mystery novel, with her true self being the mystery she is solving. I couldn’t stop writing down ideas to apply to my own life as I discovered more about her path. This is the perfect book for any women questioning choices she has made and considering — even just as a daydream — different possibilities.”
—Kimberly Palmer, author of Smart Mom, Rich Mom: How to Build Wealth While Raising a Family and The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life

“Maria Olsen is a brave woman and a brave writer. Her new book Fifty After Fifty is sometimes raw in its painful honesty, yet always heartfelt and deeply inspiring. Her courage, resilience, and adventures in self-discovery will undoubtedly motivate many other women who’ve been hamstrung by psychological, emotional or social demons to move forward with passion and purpose in their journey toward self-compassion and self-fulfillment.”
—Stacey Colino, health coach, award-winning journalist, and co-author of Disease-Proof: The Remarkable Truth About What Makes Us Well and Strong Is the New Skinny

“Maria Olsen’s new book, Fifty After Fifty is powerful, courageous and inspiring. Through her own adventures and experience, Maria shares valuable life lessons on every level—psychological, emotional, spiritual and physical—to help the reader live their most abundant life. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to make the most of life and all that it can offer.”
—Dr. Anita Gadhia-Smith, Psychotherapist and Author of From Addiction to Recovery: A Therapist’s Personal Journey and How To Stay Together: Whether You Want To Or Not

“Maria Olsen has opened her heart in this deeply personal story that travels from deep despair through an affirming journey to renewal and joy. A compelling story that offers advice and encouragement for anyone seeking purpose, passion and happiness.”
—Robin Gerber, author of Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way: Timeless Strategies from the First Lady of Courage and Katharine Graham: The Leadership Journey of an American Icon

“Maria Olsen is provocatively honest in her new book, Fifty After Fifty, as she openly talks about delicate topics from her past. I applaud her ability to recreate herself and seek her bliss. This book shows how we can all change our mindset and transform ourselves if we choose. I highly recommend this book for anyone seeking their best life.”
—Trish Earnest, Addictions Clinician and author of blood on the walls—from rebellion to redemption, a memoir

“I am so glad Maria Olsen is mapping out her explorations and encouraging other women to go on their own adventures. I work with a lot of women who turn 50 and say, what now? what’s next? who am I? I love the idea of explorations, experiments and deep dives during this beautiful stage in life. What a gift to have this conversation. Ageing is really the privilege of a lifetime.”
—Pleasance Silicki, health coach, teacher and author of Delight: Eight Principles for Living with Joy and Ease

“Olsen has the courage and knows the importance of conquering fears, fulfilling dreams, and taking new steps at every stage of life. I’d follow her anywhere!”
—Iris Krasnow, best-selling author of relationship books

“It feels like a miracle! Just as I am entering the final countdown to 50 myself, embarking on a career change, and as our youngest child has left for school, Olsen, who I have long admired, sent me her delectable manuscript. This book is now cherished reading and a guidebook to the next chapter of my life. As soon as I put it down I’ll be starting my own ‘50 after 50’ list and will get busy checking them off!”
—Aviva Goldfarb, author and entrepreneur; founder of The Six O’Clock Scramble

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