Maria Guajardo is a professor of International Liberal Arts at Soka University, Tokyo, Japan. She previously served as the dean of the Faculty of International Liberal Arts at Soka University. She was the first female dean and the first non-Japanese to serve in this capacity. Her responsibilities include advancing the globalization of Soka University, a private liberal arts university. Her area of expertise is leadership, with a focus on women, global competencies, and globalization in higher education. She is the founding director of the Women's Leadership Initiative at Soka University, an initiative aimed at female faculty, staff, and students.
Prior to her arrival in Japan, Maria was a national speaker and trainer on the topic of leadership in the United States. Previously she also served as the executive director of the Denver mayor's Office for Education and Children (citywide), Assets for Colorado Youth (statewide), and the Latin American Research and Service Agency (national). In 2016, she was presented with the Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Denver, and has received a commendation from the US Congress for her efforts to advance educational strategies for Latino and immigrant children. In 2010 she was inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame. Currently she serves as a trustee for Soka University of America. Maria graduated with honors from Harvard University, and earned her MA and PhD from the University of Denver in clinical psychology.