Model: Maria Bournias
Spina Bifida
New Jersey

Being born with Spina Bifida, the standard prognosis the doctors provided Maria’s parents early on set in motion her determination to change her expected fate. Maria earned a law degree from Rutgers School of Law where she was the Editor-in-Chief of the Rutgers Law Record and published several articles. She holds a B.S., Accounting from St. Peter’s University where she graduated as her class valedictorian. She is a licensed CPA and has been a senior tax attorney for over twenty years and currently heads the tax, legal and accounting departments for the Pancake Republix Restaurant Group.

Maria was the firm’s Ability First Business Resource Group promoting the employment and retention of individuals with disabilities. Maria was also profiled by the White House Office of Disability Employment Policy educating employers about the skills people with disabilities can bring to the workplace. Outside of the professional arena, she is an avid hand-cyclist competing in multi-day rides with Wounded Warriors and has completed 48 marathons with a goal of getting to 58, the birthday her mother never made it to before she died. She has also medaled internationally as an adaptive rower for the Row New York team.

Maria currently serves as the Board Chair-Elect of the Spina Bifida Association. Despite her accomplishments on paper, a feeling of being beautiful has always evaded her. The Bold Beauty Project experience brought a raw and unaltered version of herself to light. Maria saw herself through a lens in which she didn’t need any accolades to feel sexy, fierce and bold. All she needed were her imperfections and lack of “normal” along with her fellow sisters to proudly display to the world “WE ARE HERE” and we are embraceable…lovable…and beautiful.


Photographed by Kelly Mahoney