Making connections and bringing people together have been the hallmark characteristics that have led to Kathleen Martinez’s success in her 25-year career in marketing and community relations.
“Changing my major to the College of Business and marketing was the best decision for me professionally,” said Martinez. “It is the foundation for everything that I’ve done in my career.”
Growing up as the youngest of 14 children in Laredo, Martinez values the role of higher education and champions it today as part of her work with the BP Global Foundation. “Education can impact an entire family,” said Martinez, who was a first-generation college student. “I have a real soft place in my heart for what is called the academic middle–students that could go either way. That was me.”
Martinez recalls attending UTSA when times were simpler, and the campus was smaller. “Walking from Chisholm Hall to campus was like a nature walk,” said Martinez, who was a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority and active with the American Marketing Association as a student. “San Antonio felt like Manhattan to me, but I appreciated that UTSA was close to home, affordable and had a family feel.”
Upon graduating Martinez worked in sales, lobbied for the City of Laredo and worked as a press secretary for two years in Washington, D.C. in the House of Representatives. Returning to Texas, she headed up multicultural marketing for Southwest Airlines and was recruited by Wachovia to run their foundation.
“My time working on Capitol Hill was a great experience,” she said. One of Martinez’s career highlights was getting to meet President Bill Clinton and other global leaders in the Cabinet Room at the White House.
In her current role with BP America as senior director of national strategic relationships and executive director of the BP Global Foundation, she is no stranger to juggling a variety of assignments. She is responsible for identifying and developing strategic relationships for BP America such as their national STEM and veterans strategies. Taking on foundation responsibilities in 2018, she also has been rebuilding the structural framework for the BP Foundation and award processes.
“We need to make sure we are being thoughtful about how we spend our time and resources,” said Martinez, who will speak on panels at the UN and South by Southwest on BP’s global education programs.
“I’m grateful for my experience at UTSA,” said Martinez, who was named the corporate advocate of the year by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in 2014. “I took everything that I learned and went out and pursued my dreams. I love what I do. It is a blessing. UTSA set the course for that.”