Martínez among 23 other individuals and organizations to be recognized for working toward a more equitable and inclusive future for Utah at annual gala
The Utah System of Higher Education’s inaugural Assistant Commissioner for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Laís Martínez, will be honored at the fourth-annual Living Color Gala, presented by Utah Business and Living Color Utah, Friday, September 9, 2022, at The Grand America Hotel.
Honorees were selected for their mission to attract and foster diversity and inclusion initiatives throughout the state and for creating a lasting impact on Utah’s diverse communities.
“Laís has been a true leader helping the Utah Board of Higher Education to understand and take action on crucial equity, diversity and inclusion efforts at Utah’s colleges,” said Lisa Michele Church, chair of the Utah Board of Higher Education. “Laís has tremendous insight and strategy to share with our higher education system. She consistently places the needs of underrepresented students at the forefront of the board’s decision-making process, emphasizing inclusion at every turn. We are all better off in Utah due to the advocacy of Laís Martinez.”
Martínez began her career in education as a regional enrollment advisor for USU Eastern and Utah Valley University. Her institutional experience includes work in student affairs, student leadership development through ambassador programs, Spanish adult education, and community outreach. She later joined the Office of the Commissioner at USHE, where she first worked managing statewide access and outreach programs. She was later promoted as inaugural assistant commissioner for equity, diversity and inclusion in 2020.
Martínez’s experience in the commissioner’s office has included working with board and system leadership, faculty and staff to draft and employ Utah’s first Equity Lens Framework; equity, diversity and inclusion-minded resolutions—building awareness and solidifying the board’s commitment to serve Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) students, LGBTQ+ students and students facing economic barriers; reviewing and revising any institutional policies and procedures that create structural barriers to student, faculty and staff success; convening and collaborating with the system chief diversity officers; and more.
“Since joining USHE, Laís has demonstrated her passion and commitment for equity, diversity and inclusion in higher education in every aspect of her work,” said Dave R. Woolstenhulme, commissioner of higher education. “We would be a very different system today if it weren’t for her advocacy and leadership on these important issues impacting our students. I look forward to working together with her, USHE chief diversity officers, and our board and college presidents to further strengthen our equity, diversity and inclusion efforts across the state.”
Martínez holds a Master of Education from the University of Utah and a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science from Utah Valley University.