The Parker Fundation

LOWELL, MA – The trustees of the Theodore Edson Parker Foundation have voted Maria Cunha to the board effective July 1, 2022. Maria has served as an advisor to the Foundation since 2019.

Parker President Karen Carpenter made the announcement of the appointment following the Spring Board of Trustees meeting, and said, “we are thrilled that Maria joins us. Her life truly reflects servant leadership and expands our commitment to Lowell. As the third woman on the board, an immigrant, and a Lowell resident, Maria’s addition to the board represents another key step in realizing our commitment to having the Foundation’s leadership reflect Lowell’s diverse community.”  

Born in the Azores and coming to Lowell with her family in 1967, Maria quickly learned English and excelled in the Lowell Public Schools, receiving a scholarship to Regis College, being the first in her family to attend and graduate college. For over 30 years, she has supported immigrants and refugees in Lowell through her work at the International Institute, Congressman Meehan’s district office, and as an administrator at Middlesex Community College. “I am grateful and honored for the opportunity to join as a trustee. Throughout my career living and working in Lowell for over 40 years, I have witnessed the impact the Parker Foundation has had on the many organizations serving immigrants, youth, and our most vulnerable citizens,” said Maria in response to her board appointment.

About the Parker Foundation, Lowell MA

The Parker Foundation was established in 1944 under the will of Theodore Edson Parker of Lowell. Since the late 1980s the Foundation has focused its grantmaking in Lowell, which is home to the second largest Cambodian American population in the United States. The Parker board includes Karen H. Carpenter, President; David W. Donahue Jr., Treasurer; Sophy Theam, Clerk; Luis M. Pedroso; and now most recently Maria Cunha. The Foundation also works with two Lowell-based advisors: Benjamin Opara and Vladimir Saldana. In 2021, the Foundation made grant payments of almost $1.2 million in charitable contributions. For a complete list of recipients, visit and an article outlining the Foundation’s journey and continued commitment to equity and inclusion can be found here.

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