Congratulations to our newest ally, Maria Mark! Maria helped draft and sponsor the Human Rights Ordinance that recently passed (4-0) on August 11, 2014. Maria was recently awarded the “Voice for Equality Award” at Equality Florida’s Jacksonville Annual Gala for her dedication to equal rights for the LGBT community in Atlantic Beach.
Born in Seoul, South Korea, Maria was adopted at 18 months old, by her father who was stationed in South Korea. She started school in Germany but she and her family settled in Columbia, South Carolina, where her mother was raised.
Maria graduated from the University of South Carolina with a degree in business and moved to Jacksonville in 1979 to be with her parents, who had moved there a year earlier. She began her legal career at the Rogers, Towers law firm and eventually moved to the Beach to work for Anderson & Howell as a litigation paralegal. She obtained her paralegal certification from the University of North Florida and continued working in this field for over 25 years.
In 2006, Maria entered the non-profit world and worked for the St. Johns River Alliance and Preservation North Florida (n/k/a Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation) as the assistant program manager. In 2009, she was named as the interim Executive Director of the Timucuan Trail Parks Foundation and now serves as its part-time Executive Director.
Maria was elected to the City of Atlantic Beach City Commission in 2011. She has been a community advocate for many years and chairs the community event, MarshFest. This seven-year old, bi-annual event held at Dutton Island Park & Preserve draws over 1,000 people for a family day filled with free Americana-music, kayak tours and nature hikes of the beautiful parks and marshes in Atlantic Beach.
Maria is a member of the “Leadership Jacksonville Class of 2014” and most recently was selected as the honoree for the Economic Development Award by The Women of Color Cultural Foundation. She is a former board member of Beaches Watch, a Beaches civic organization and served on the St. Johns River Ferry Task Force, which was spearheaded by City of Jacksonville Council President Bill Gulliford. She is also on the A1A Corridor working group that is applying to obtain the A1A Scenic & Historic designation for A1A in Duval and Nassau Counties.
Maria lives in Atlantic Beach with her husband of almost 23 years, Bob, and they have a 14 year-old son, Garrett. She is also the caretaker for her 86 year-old mother. In her free time, Maria enjoys golfing, nature photography and bird watching.