Annette Martinez to keynote MCLP graduation ceremony

By Mike Matejka and Emma Salvino

Annette Martinez, VP of Operations - HR at State Farm Corporate
Annette Martinez, VP of Operations – HR at State Farm Corporate

“Make a plan, make a move, make a difference,” is the advice from this year’s Multicultural Leadership Program (MCLP) graduation speaker, Annette Martinez.

Annette is the Vice-President for Human Resources at State Farm Corporate in Bloomington, a long journey for a rural Colorado farm girl. With an optimistic spirit and a “can do” attitude, Martinez built on strong family roots to move herself forward.

“I wouldn’t be sitting here without my family,” Martinez noted. The youngest of four, her father was a farmer and owned a truck company, her mother, a former agricultural field hand, stayed at home to raise her children and also became a community leader. “We’re going to give you the tools,” her family said, making sure she and her siblings gained higher education. Martinez was the only one to move beyond Colorado, as her State Farm career took her to Bloomington, New York, California and other destinations.

With her Mother’s background and exposed to the farm laborers the family hired, Martinez gained an understanding of poverty and difficult challenges. As a Latina in an often all-white world, she propelled herself forward and used opportunities to her advantage. Plus she had the strong support of her husband Ruben, who was willing to uproot to follow her career. They have a daughter, Andrea, a University High senior, who is now embarking on her college search.

Martinez’s impressive career began with a degree in biology from the University of Northern Colorado. She joined State Farm in 1988 in Greeley, Colorado. In her career with State Farm, she earned her Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) in 1995, her Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) in 1996 and her Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) in 2010. In 2002 she was a National Hispana Leadership Fellow and a panel member in 2009 for the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute. In 2009 Latina Style named her as one of the nation’s top five female executives, in 2010 Hispanic Business magazine named her one of its top 20 Women of Excellence and in 2013, Top Women in Leadership.

“Everyone has a story,” she noted, “decisions we make along the way shape us. You have to continue to make the story, make a move, make a difference.” To Annette, leadership means caring for others, “Our success is defined by the people we get to lead. Being a leader is being selfless.” When stationed in California, she remembers “a really good leader who guided me and cared about me. This was a leader who showed and defined who I wanted to be as a leader.”

To Annette, MCLP’s mission of diversity and servant leadership echoes her own life story. She relishes the opportunity to engage with MCLP participants. “I love the heart of this organization and the desire to make a difference in the community. If people are willing to learn, I’m willing to be a part of this.

“Success is different for each of us; success was never about a position to me, but is bringing out the best in people. Find out what you are trying to accomplish and move toward that goal.”

One of Annette’s favorite holidays is New Year’s, a chance to re-evaluate and move forward on life goals. Being asked to speak at graduation moved her. “I am honored they wanted me to be a part of this. We all have a story we can identify with and I appreciate the opportunity to share mine.”

The 2016 MCLP graduation celebration will take place on Saturday, April 9 in the Brown Ballroom, Bone Student Center on Illinois State University’s campus.

RSVP to Attend!