Marija Vrebalov

Marija Vrebalov was born on May 9, 1972 in Novi Sad, where she finished Svetozar Marković Toza Elementary School followed by the 7. April Medical High School. During those years, she trained rhythmic gymnastics and competed. She first enrolled at the Faculty of Medicine and, later, at the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Novi Sad, in the Department of Field and Vegetable Crops. She started working while still at the university. In addition to the BBC School for the Promotion of Equality and Nonviolent Communication, where she obtained her diploma in 2005, she has attended and completed several informal forms of education, seminars, schools and trainings on political engagement.

In 2000, Marija was in a car accident which would leave her with a permanent, complete physical disability. In 2003, after a long period of rehabilitation, the Media Development Loan Fund (MDLF) from New York hired her as a translator. In 2004, the Democratic Party in Novi Sad appointed her to the position of the president of the Democratic Party’s Departmental Council for the Disabled, as a non-party affiliated member. Since 2003, she has been a consultant for accessible environments, under the Feng Shui principles of Design for All, having graduated from the New York Institute of Art and Design. She has also worked on the Development Fund of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina since the beginning of 2007. A year later, she was taken on as a consultant for the Public Art & Public Space project at the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade.

As a non-party candidate in the 2008 elections, she was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Assembly of the City of Novi Sad as the first disabled and the first female candidate, a position she was reelected to in 2012 until the restructuring of the city government. From 2008–2012, she was the Chairperson of the Committee for the Implementation of Public Call Procedures for the Selection of Cultural Projects, a member of the Committee for the Allocation of Funds for Social Protection, a member of the Council for Persons with Special Needs and the initiator for the establishment of the same council in the Novi Sad Assembly. In the same period, she was a member of the City Accessibility Team, a member of the Urban Planning, Business and Housing Council, and an active member of the Team for Drafting, Designing, Writing and Implementing the City Accessibility Strategy 2012–2018. She was named a Councilor in the new parliament for the period 2012–2016. In the 2016 elections, as a non-party candidate and the first woman on the list, she was reelected for the period 2016–2020. In this term, she will be a member of the Council for Persons with Special Needs. Since March 2018, she has been a member of the Accessibility Working Group at the European Capital of Culture’ Foundation 2021. She has also been a consultant on architectural accessibility projects for Beogradski kej, Bulevar Evrope, a public toilet on Kralj Aleksandar St., Radulovački Environmental Center in Sremski Karlovci and many other projects.

Marija has been a Personal Assistance Service supporter since 2009, and involved in media campaigns and social media usage for advocacy and self-advocacy in the field of disability and other civil rights. Her life story was published by the Living Upright Center in The life stories of women with disabilities in Vojvodina.

Marija is fluent in English.
She is the mother of one child.

For more information about Marija’s work, please visit:
Instagram: @marijavrebalov and @mvfengshuitopsecret
Facebook: Marija Vrebalov