Marie Majarais Smith | Putting Humanity Back

Are you comfortable in your seats?” Marie Majarais Smith asks the audience upon hitting the stage. “I hope so. Because after this talk, you won’t be.”

This passionate human rights advocate relates a shocking true story of abuse, brutal beating, and rape. We learn that it happened in retaliation for the woman reporting her husband for abuse, and that the retaliation was by her husband’s family. Horrifying stuff, but that’s not all. With a tense and dramatic build-up, we learn that the woman is an undocumented resident — a resident of Greer, South Carolina. This heinous crime took place not in a third world country but just a few miles from where the TEDxGreenville audience sat. The woman did not get legal assistance or adequate medical help. “In a country that prides itself in law and order, liberty, and justice…she received none,” says Marie. “If we believe as a community in human rights, we need to stand up for rights of others right here in our community. There are no humans that are more human than the next person.”

About Marie

Marie works for the SC Victim Assistance Network and is the Program Manager and Bilingual Victim Advocate for the Immigrant Victim Program. In this role, she is actively engaged in ensuring that victims’ rights are protected, basic needs are met, and they have meaningful access to justice and resources to help them heal from the trauma of crime. Prior to joining SCVAN, Marie worked as a bilingual victim advocate for the Julie Valentine Center, helping victims of sexual violence and abuse. She has a passion for being involved in the community and providing resources for underserved and minority populations.

Born in Los Angeles, Marie was raised in Toronto, Canada, and moved to Greenville in 1994. She received her bachelor’s degree from the College of Charleston and attended the Citadel’s graduate school. Marie lived and worked in Europe and Mexico when she was employed as a project manager for a global automotive supplier.

She was recently selected to join the 2014 class of Furman Connections: Women Leaders of the Upstate program. Marie is on the board of directors for the Greenville Family Partnership and serves on the academic advisory board for Greenville Tech’s Human Services Department and ITT Technical Institute’s Criminal Justice Program. She is the Capacity (Diversity and Inclusion) Chair for PULSE, a member of the International Task Force for Greenville Forward’s Vision 2025, and a member of the statewide Human Trafficking Task Force. She served on the Executive Committee of the Hispanic Alliance and the Greenville County Domestic Violence Council, is the former president of PAVA (Piedmont Association for Volunteer Administrators), and is a graduate of Leadership Greenville Class 39, now serving on their Curriculum Committee.

She is the recent recipient of the Calder D. Erhmann Outstanding Individual in Diversity Leadership award through the Riley Institute at Furman (May 2013) and was featured in Greenville Business Magazine’s “Best & Brightest Under 35” (September 2013) as well as Talk Magazine’s “25 Most Beautiful” (October 2013).