EP (12) Maria Russo: From creating a successful online magazine, to finding her life's purpose as a non-profit founder


Many of us would love to have just one idea of ours take-off. Little own, two ideas.

I'm kind of convinced that Maria is a bit of an anomaly, because it seems like everything she touches and creates has the power to leave a lasting impact and legacy.

I got a clear sense in our interview that she's born to change the world and leave it a better place than she found it. 

Maria not only founded a very successful online digital magazine, called The Culture-ist; but her latest mission is serving as Co-founder and Director of a non-profit she started with her husband, called Humanity Unified International.

It's a 501 (C) (3) non-profit organization that empowers communities to rise out of poverty through education, food security projects and economic opportunities.

But don't get discouraged if you think that you haven't found your life's calling just yet. Maria will be the first to tell you that she spent most of her 20's and some of her 30's testing out a few different career options, before feeling the pull to create something in Rwanda.

It was a bit of serendipitous alignment thanks to a unique connection through her time with The Culture-ist and a personal desire to do something bigger than just write about conscious travel and change.

She knew she wanted to do more in the world, and so she took action. 

And although the steps to get to where she is now, weren't easy, they were fully worth it.

Photo: Humanity Unified International

Photo: Humanity Unified International

Photo: Humanity Unified International

Photo: Humanity Unified International

We dive into the idea of sustainable action, what it's like creating programs designed to have an impact in a developing region and the many struggles and triumphs one can experience as a foreigner walking into unknown territory.

Maria's story is a beautiful tale of life lesson's surrounding the power of community and respect for pre-existing culture.

Be sure to check out Humanity Unified to see how you can become an Angel Sponsor and help these women and their families end the cycle of poverty, once and for all!

Donate today

Some Questions I asked:

  • How did The Culturist start?
  • Why do you think it became so successful?
  • How did you build an online community around the magazine?
  • Did you always see yourself as someone who's mission it was to impact the world and create positive change?
  • What's the connection with Rwanda - why did you want to start the non-profit to benefit women living there?
  • What are some steps in creating a non-profit?
  • How are the 100 women selected for the program?
  • Your biggest challenge to date on the ground and at home, as it pertains to running a non-profit?
  • How are your non-profits 3 pillars helping communities and changing lives?
  • And so much more...

What You'll Learn:

  • What Maria did before venturing into blogging, community building and non-profit (this will shock you, because it's definitely not similar)
  • Where Maria's drive comes from
  • The latest partnership between Humanity Unified and a really cool collaborator
  • Why she'll probably never venture into launching an online fashion store again
  • The value of finding a reliable partner on the ground if you want to create something in a developing country
  • How to ensure your project is sustainable for the future
  • Why a storage shed and specific seeds can bring families out of poverty
  • And a lot more!!

Other Links:

Connect with Maria & Humanity Unified




Listen, subscribe, and leave a review on: iTunes or SoundCloud.

Feel inspired? If you know anyone who would enjoy this episode, please share this link with them. The more inspired people our world has, the happier a place it will be. Just click the share button on the left side of the screen and let's spread these stories and messages. Feel free to leave a comment below and share your thoughts- I'd love to know what you think.