Laís Martinez

Laís Martinez

Assistant Commissioner for Belonging & Opportunity

Ms. Martínez began her career in higher education after completing her undergraduate degree as a non-traditional (adult learner) student. This lived experience helps her understand the challenges faced by students as they navigate structural barriers, and it is the reason she is most grateful for her time working directly with first-generation students and their families. 

A decade ago, she began her work as a regional enrollment advisor for USU Eastern and Utah Valley University. Ms. Martinez’s institutional experience includes work in student affairs, student leadership, and community outreach. In this capacity, she spent much of her time in Latinos in Action, AVID, Gear Up, and TRIO classrooms, where she infused principles of Hip Hop pedagogy and spoken word to create culturally sustaining college readiness workshops for students.

Later, as UVU’s Assistant Director for School Community University Partnership, she led the only Spanish GED program in the state, securing grants to provide additional support for immigrant parents and adults to complete their GED. In this role, she also supported an after-school tutoring program for K-6 students as well as planned programming for UVU Prep, a free STEM Summer program for middle and junior high first-generation and underrepresented students. 

When joining the Office of the Commissioner, she first worked managing statewide access and outreach programs like Utah College Application Week (UCAW), where she expanded the program to include an awareness component for elementary and middle school students. She was later promoted as the inaugural Assistant Commissioner for Belonging & Opportunity in 2020. In this role, she has had the unique opportunity to work in collaboration with many higher education, community, government, and business leaders and stakeholders to address systemic change through policy, programming, and funding. Since 2017, she has convened each of the institutional Chief Diversity Officers, providing state strategy for efforts to close attainment disparities and supported the collective creation of the USHE Equity Lens Framework.

Ms. Martínez holds a Master of Education with an emphasis in Education, Culture, and Society from the University of Utah. She approaches her work rooted in the liberating power of education to transform lives.