Maria Rios

President and CEO of Nation Waste, Inc.

Maria Rios is the President and CEO of Nation Waste, Inc. (NWI), the first multi-million dollar female Hispanic-owned waste removal company in United States history and one of the largest minority-owned companies in the state of Texas.  NWI is a fully-certified, commercial waste disposal company specializing in construction, demolition, commercial/industrial non-hazardous waste removal, portable toilets and recycling services.

In 2018, Maria—in revolutionizing the worker safety industry—launched a new division, Nation Safety Net, which leverages a technology solution powered by IBM Watson IoT.  In the U.S. nearly 5,000 people die and approximately 27 million work days are lost each year because of injuries in the workplace. To keep workers safe and mitigate the cost of workplace injuries, Nation Safety Net, in partnership with IBM, created an IoT solution that uses environmental sensors and wearable devices to identify potential dangers and to help employees avoid injury.

During the last 20 years, Maria has had the high honor of serving the community at large and participating in a range of civic engagement and global entrepreneurship initiatives.   In 2019, she has served as featured speaker on AI and global technology innovation in Russia, Colombia, Switzerland, Israel, India and Tunisia. 

In terms of business, Maria has achieved national acclaim, as her company was awarded the exclusive portable toilets contract for Super Bowl LI in 2017.  Maria was one of four minority-owned businesses featured by the NFL in its coverage of its procurement strategic plan leading up to the Patriots vs. Falcons NFL championship.  Recently, Maria was featured as a speaker for Google during SXSW Interactive in Austin and served as a keynote influence at the Women Economic Forum.

Currently, Maria serves as Global Ambassador for the International Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge (IWEC), which recognized her as one of the top 27 women entrepreneurs in the world.  Fortune named Maria as one of the 2013 Fortune Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs in the U.S. and Goldman Sachs honored her as one of its 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs.  In 2015 Maria and NWI were featured on CNBC’s Blue Collar Millionaires, a docu-series profiling big personalities who have gained wealth “by getting their hands dirty…and rolling up their sleeves…with a can-do mindset.”  CNBC marketed the Rios episode as “The $30M empire built on trash.”

Maria embodies a business mind and a servant heart, as she serves on numerous boards, including the Smithsonian National Latino Board, the University of Houston, the Houston Community College Foundation, the Texas Association of Business, the City of Houston Office of Business Opportunity and the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Foundation.  Additionally, Maria served as a member of the Houston delegation to advance trade opportunities with Central America.  In 2019 she has been selected by the Consulate General of Israel for a tour to Israel for Influential Women in Leadership who are frontrunners and leaders in their communities and trailblazers in their professions.

Maria has been a featured small business speaker at the White House for several administrations and in 2019 will be featured on the cover of Forbes Central America.

Other awards include the Trailblazer Awards by the Hispanic Women Network of Texas; the International Excellence Award for Entrepreneurship; one of Houston’s 50 Most Influential Women of 2012; Houston Woman Magazine’s Businesswoman of the Year; the 2009 Female Entrepreneur of the Year by the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; the 2009 Better Business Bureau Gold Star Award; the 2006 Gold Medal Award for Entrepreneur of the Year by the National White House Congressional Committee in Washington D.C.; and the 2004 Business of Advisory Committee Office of the President of the United States.  The Governor of Texas has recognized Maria and Nation Waste as exemplary for the past seven years.

Maria Rios is living the American dream, as she began her U.S. journey emigrating from El Salvador as a child. Her family came to the U.S. to pursue education and escape civil strife. Through reliance on faith, a relentless work ethic and determination, Rios graduated from Houston Community College and earned her BA in Business Administration and Management from the University of Houston.  As a steadfast advocate of education and professional development, Maria has walked the talk, as she has graduated from the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative Education-Scaling Program, the Dartmouth Tuck Education Program for Executives and the Goldman Sachs 10K Small Businesses program.

She credits her parents for instilling in her the significance of education and dreaming big.