Maria Rodale, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Rodale Inc., America’s largest independent, family-owned publisher, is on a mission. More than simply advancing the benefits of an organic lifestyle, her goal as an activist is to heal people and the planet not just through food or exercise, not just by losing weight or living longer, but through living a life of meaning, with the intention of leaving this world a better place. Maria divides her time between Rodale’s rural Emmaus, Pennsylvania, headquarters and its Midtown Manhattan offices, and works on the front lines overseeing a global business with more than 700 employees and partners around the world in 70 countries.
A sleeves-rolled-up leader in all senses, Maria is everywhere: in the garden and in the kitchen; cooking, tasting, and tweaking her own recipes; chronicling her opinions and adventures for Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen (now found on rodalesorganiclife.com); and personally vetting every product that lands on Rodale’s, the growing e-commerce site that she launched in 2013. Thoughtfully setting standards for the site that offers “healthy solutions for a happy life,” her bottom line is that whatever is selected has to really work.
Maria has authored numerous books, including 2010’s Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe. She released her first cookbook, Scratch: Home Cooking for Everyone Made Simple, Fun and Totally Delicious, in fall 2016.
Family occupies a central role in Maria’s life, and not least because she is the third generation Rodale to take the reins of this mega-successful family business. With three daughters born in three different decades, she’s a working mom.
Maria Rodale joined the family business in 1987, first working in circulation and direct marketing and eventually leading Rodale’s in-house direct marketing agency. In 1998, she served as director of strategy, where she led the strategic review, planning processes, and management changes that refocused the company on publishing information on healthy, active lifestyles. She also led the company’s Organic Living division, Rodale’s first integrated brand division, where she was Editor-in-Chief of Organic Gardening and oversaw all of Rodale’s gardening books. She joined the Rodale board in 1991 and was elected Chairman in 2007.
Over the years, Maria has been recognized for her work by major organizations. These include: National Audubon Society, which honored her with its Rachel Carson Award in 2004; United Nations Population Fund, whose Award for the Health and Dignity of Women was given to Maria in 2007; and Auburn University gave her an International Quality of Life Award in 2014. Maria is also co-chair of the board at Rodale Institute, an independent, nonprofit, working farm that conducts agricultural research; and she sits on the board of the Pennsylvania Federal Reserve.