In this Sept. 22, 2012 photo provided by the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Maurice Lim Miller, 66, a social services innovator who designs projects that reward and track self-sufficiency among residents of low-income neighborhoods in Oakland, San Francisco and Boston, is seen at his home in Oakland, Calif. Miller is among 23 recipients of this year's MacArthur Foundation "genius grants." (AP Photo/Courtesy of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Don Feria) (Don Feria/AP)
Founder and CEO, Family Independence Initiative

Maurice Lim Miller is an anti-poverty social innovator who, as Founder and CEO of the national Family Independence Initiative (FII), offers a new approach for families, funders, and policy makers to break the cycle of poverty.

FII’s strength-based approach, inspired by the historical successes of poor and immigrant communities in the U.S., shows that when families are provided the opportunity to access and share resources, offer mutual support, and solve their own problems—rather than taking direction from case workers—they have a deep capacity to transform their lives.

President Obama appointed Maurice to the White House Council for Community Solutions in late 2010. Maurice was elected a 2011 Ashoka Fellow for his pioneering approach to increasing economic mobility. He was also honored by President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who invited him to sit with her alongside Rosa Parks, Sammy Sosa, and other honorees during the President’s 1999 State of the Union Address.

Before starting FII, Maurice spent 22 years as the executive director of Asian Neighborhood Design, a large, needs-based multi-service community development agency in San Francisco and Oakland. His experience leading this $10 million agency showed Maurice first hand that while social services are important when people are in crisis, our needs-based system actually penalizes people once they begin to make progress and show initiative.

Maurice’s personal history deeply informs his life’s work. Maurice emigrated from Mexico to the United States as a child with his mother and sister. Like so many other low-income parents, Maurice’s mother worked long hours to feed and support her children. But the effort took its toll and Maurice lost his mother when he was in his twenties. Since his mother’s death, Maurice has dedicated himself to battling stereotypes about poor people and supporting low-income families in breaking the cycle of poverty. 

Maurice sits on the Board of Directors of the California Endowment and the Hitachi Foundation. He has a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from U.C. Berkeley.