Maria enjoyed a traditional Greek childhood, living on top of a milk bar and sharing a bedroom with her yiayia. She was a good Greek girl throughout high school until university when she discovered her rebellious side and abandoned nine-tenths of an economics degree for a career in the theatre. She managed theatre companies such as Anthill and Arena Theatre Company and then became an independent arts management consultant and theatre producer, touring shows to Asia, Europe, and South America. After a decade in the arts, Maria decided it was time for a career change and became a bureaucrat, joining the Victorian Public Service.
In 2008, Maria experienced a severe episode of depression and was hospitalised for over a month. She now lives with an ongoing mental illness and has become a vocal advocate for mental health. Maria is a beyondblue Ambassador and a consumer advocate with the Mental Health Council of Australia. While she lives with a chronic mental illness, she leads an active and meaningful life.
Maria Katsonis is a senior executive in the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet and a public policy lecturer at the Melbourne School of Government.