María-Elena Cardeña was born in Mexico City and raised in Pasadena, California. Since 1989, she has served as a consultant for youth ministry, a campus minister, and a pastoral associate in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. She now serves as a Faith Formation Director for Our Lady of the Assumption in Claremont. Her affiliation with Center Ministry Development began as an adjunct staff member, but she has also written, edited, and led both YouthLeader and Young Neighbors in Action. María-Elena possesses a Master's in Religious Studies from Mount St. Mary's College, and is now a doctoral candidate in Organizational Leadership at the University of La Verne. Most recently, she has launched a leadership education and consultation services business dedicated to providing equal access to English and Spanish speaking leaders. She lives in the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California, where she paints, cooks, and admires the mountains.