Relentlessly focused on sourcing and scaling breakthrough ideas, Maura has been thrilled to grow businesses, teach and mentor others wanting to make a big difference. In 2009 she was appointed by President Obama to be the first Chief Innovation Officer of the US Agency for International Development. Serving until summer 2013, she was responsible for inspiring and leading breakthrough innovations in foreign assistance and development worldwide. Maura is best known for adapting venture capital and drug discovery methods to global development by co-creating the Development Innovation Venture Fund that has expanded into the Global Innovation Fund. Maura served as a member of the White House Innovation Cohort assisting in innovation across the federal government. Prior to joining the Administration, she served as a Chief of Staff in the U.S. Senate.
A serial entrepreneur, O’Neill founded four companies in the fields of electricity efficiency, smart grid and customer info systems & billing, e-commerce and digital education. In 1989, she was named the Greater Seattle Business Person of the Year.
Currently Maura is teaching at the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford and Columbia Universities. In 2016 she was received the UC Berkeley Earl Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching. She also advises start-ups, global companies, foundations and global government agencies.
Maura has MBAs from Columbia University and University of California at Berkeley. She has a PhD from University of Washington, where her research focused on narrow-mindedness and the errors it can lead to in science, medicine, business and political decision-making. She helped found a public charter school, Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women (grades 6-12th) and continues to serve as Vice Chair.
Maura is married and has two grown kids, a digital journalist who cooks the most amazing vegetables and a basketball-playing particle physicist.