Lidia Martinez, Helping one Latina at a Time.

In every city, at the coffee shop, the park, your kid’s school, there’s always a Latina with an inspirational story. A Latina who overcame obstacles and barriers and accomplished her dream. This is one of those stories I’m hoping will inspire YOU to take the first step to fulfill Your Dreams!

Lidia Martinez, Helping one Latina at a Time.

By Tania Luviano

Lidia S. Martinez has had much inspiration from her mom, her husband and countless community

leaders. When asked what she wants her legacy to be, Martinez responds “I am still working on it!”

Born in Ciudad Juarez and raised in El Paso, Texas, Martinez learned from a very young age the art

of “sharing”. You see, she is one of 11 children whose mother’s vision for a better life brought them

to the United States when Lidia was 12. Her family resources were limited and they had to share what little her mom could afford to buy them.  Growing up seeing her older sisters working on factory assembly lines, Martinez knew she wanted a better life for herself.  She was the first one of two siblings to graduate from high school and the first one of two to graduate from college.   “Those were challenging but happy days”, she recalls.

Fast-forward 37 years and you still find Lidia sharing her resources. I recently caught up with her in

sunny San Diego and I learned that although she has been to the White House several times and has

met Presidents of the United States, celebrities, and many influential people, the most fun she has

is when she is able to connect people. “I love to see how a simple introduction can turn into a life-

changing experience for some” she says as she checks her Blackberry, where many of those requests for

introductions land!

She credits her employer, Southwest Airlines, for the many doors she has been able to open. In 1990,

Lidia accepted the position of Receptionist for the Vice President of Marketing at Southwest Airlines.

Within two months, she was promoted to be his Executive Secretary and since then her journey with

her beloved company has taken off. In 2004, she was named Regional Manager of Hispanic Community

Affairs where she played an integral part in identifying the airline’s role within the Latino community.

Currently, Lidia is the Manager of Community Affairs & Grassroots responsible for the Western United

States. “It is my dream job!” she says. Lidia shares that she is empowered to do the right thing, blaze

new trails and “off road” whenever is needed. Her passion to help her community is best reflected

by the many local, state and national boards she sits on, including the Congressional Hispanic Caucus

Institute, the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, LEAD San Diego, and the California State

University Foundation.

Although Lidia has been honored by many local and national organizations for her work in the non-

profit community, one she loves to showcase to her children is the Girl Scouts, San Diego-Imperial

Council, “San Diego 10 Cool Women”! And perhaps it’s her “coolness” that inspires so many young

professional Latinas across the country to ask her to serve as their mentor. “Lidia is selfless in sharing

her network and resources to help others. The only thing she asks in return is for others to do the

same,” says Inez Gonzalez, Executive Vice President for the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and one

of Lidia’s mentees. “Mentorship is extremely important, especially within the Hispanic community because so many of us don’t have that support and knowledge at home,“ says Martinez.

As we see the sun set in the horizon, Lidia pauses and says “I never imagined this would be my life. I have childhood friends who weren’t as lucky as me and today work at a school cafeteria.  I am blessed.”When I ask her if she has any regrets, she responds “Of course! One that never leaves me is

not being able to visit my mom, brothers and sisters as often as I want. I miss them terribly.”

Today Lidia lives in San Diego, California with her husband of 27 years, Ted and their two children,

Melyna (25) and Teddy (21). Her mom and her siblings live in El Paso, Texas.

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