Kathy Martinez – 3rd Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy
Kathy Martinez was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the third Assistant Secretary for Disability Employment Policy and was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on June 25, 2009. ODEP’s mission is to develop and influence policies and practices that increase the number and quality of employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Under Martinez’s leadership, ODEP has played a critical role in President BarackObama’s July 2010 Executive Order directing all U.S. federal agencies to increase the representation of people with disabilities in their workforces.
Ms. Martinez has also led ODEP in putting policy priorities into practice through several innovative grant programs. These include Add Us In, through which consortia nationwide are working to increase the capacity of small businesses to employ people with disabilities, and the Employment First State Leadership Mentor Program, through which several states are receiving support to promote community-based, integrated employment as the primary outcome for people with significant disabilities.
Under Martinez’s leadership, ODEP has also maintained the award-winning Campaign for Disability Employment, a national, multi-organization public awareness initiative that educates about the value and talent people with disabilities bring to America’s workplaces and economy. This integrated campaign has produced television public service announcements that challenge common myths and misconceptions about the expectations and job skills of people with disabilities. These PSAs have garnered millions of dollars in earned media airtime.
Martinez also speaks and publishes widely on an array of topics related to disability employment, including the emergence of disability as an essential component of workplace diversity and inclusion and the importance of expectation in ensuring youth with disabilities grow up with an assumption of work—a topic on which Ms. Martinez, who herself was born blind, offers compelling and personal perspective.