My name is Maria Isabel. I was born to U.S. citizens living abroad in Caracas, Venezuela, so I speak fluent Spanish, as well as Italian and a little bit of French. I moved to the United States when I was just 6 years old, to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. About ten years ago I decided I needed a change in my life and moved to New York City. I met the second love of my life, Jacob there and spent 9 years in Long Island. I have within the last year and a half moved to the suburb of Gilbert, Arizona just outside of Phoenix Metro.

Before I became interested in the world of Information Technology, I actually had a deep passion for all things ancient --- artifacts, civilizations, societies. Since I was just 10 years old, I had always wanted to be like Indiana Jones. Despite my many health challenges, as I was born with Cystic Fibrosis, I was able to attain a doctorate's degree from the University of Chicago in Ancient Middle Eastern Civilizations, otherwise known as Egyptology. I also have a masters in Archaeology and two bachelors; one in Business Administration and one in Anthropology. With this passion, I have quite literally traveled the world. But alas, it became increasingly difficult to travel and effectively manage my health. So I had to make a change and took the plunge!

I started dabbling in web design in a very unusual manner. I had started playing an online video game and had built a guild in this game. With the flourish of the internet, I wanted to put a guild website together, but I did not know how. So I bought myself "Sam's Teach Yourself HTML 2.0 In 21 Days" and I got to work learning how to build HTML pages and using graphics programs such as Photoshop 4.0 and Paint Shop Pro. I taught myself everything I could, even started to learn about JavaScript.

I par laid that hobby of mine into a career, one that landed me a job as a junior design for a small marketing firm in Aventura, Florida. Then I decided to take up certifications with Adobe and Macromedia. I was self-teaching myself, with the approved books that I could pick up at Borders or Barnes and Noble, how to master these programs that seem to be so integral to web design. I passed my tests and became certified, ACE (Adobe Certified Expert) and MCS (Macromedia Certified Specialist), in Photoshop 5.0 and Flash 4.0. This only helped me expand my career.

I started getting interested in usability early on in my career. I truly cared about how people used the sites we made or the web applications we were using. I became and avid reader of the material that Jakob Neilsen was publishing and everything that the Neilsen Norman Group was involved in. I would attend seminars and read books on usability, started speaking on good web usability and answering questions and making a name for myself as an usuabilty expert.

My career advanced in this new field that I had etched for myself. I took on jobs with some very well known companies and fulfilled their needs in many titles/roles --- such as Web Usability Expert, User Interface Designer, User Experience Specialist, Senior Web Designer, Application Design Specialist, etc. etc. I also started to take on roles such as project manager and business analyst and learning to serve as a liaison between developers and business owners.

I have since taken my career a step further, by getting into the SharePoint world and just intranets in general. I started learning about SharePoint, back when they first released it as SharePoint Team Services in 2001. Back then it had very simple functionality such as creating lists and document libraries. I only got to use sparingly, as the company I worked for did not deploy it company-wide, but just for our department. Even then, I knew this product was going to be special.

With the release of SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and its team site component, Windows SharePoint Services, intranets were becoming more and more popular and the benefits of having a good intranet deployed with a good product such as SharePoint was catching on like a wild fire. SPS 2003 became the gateway for many many companies to ease collaboration across functional groups, therefore increasing productivity and adding value to the bottom line.

As I learned more about intranets and about SharePoint, I became fascinated with bringing my usability knowledge to the table and somehow bridging the two together. Yes SharePoint was an out of the box functional program, but its look and feel was highly customizeable and promoted by Microsoft as such. So I took it upon myself to learn everything I could about the built in language for SharePoint, called CAML (Collaboration Assembly Markup Language) and how it could be used to manipulate the look and feel of a SharePoint portal area or SharePoint team site.

With great success there and now with the release of SharePoint 2007 and even further now with SharePoint 2010, we can now extend the built in User Interface even further. With the inclusion of Master Pages, Themes, and custom CSS, the obstacles we faced in 2003 and 2007 can now be easily overcome. A SharePoint site or team site can look almost like any other website you see out on the intranet, it can even incoporate animation objects and live media objects in a much more simple and cohesive fashion.

In all I have either worked on, team led, project managed, architected, or administrated well over 120 SharePoint deployments, dating back to 2001-2002. I have the experience of several people combined into one person, with the exception of core development, and would be an asset to any intranet project or web application development project.