October 04, 2010

State Sen. Iris Martinez to speak on campus

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Iris Y. Martinez, the first Hispanic woman elected to the Illinois State Senate, will present a lecture this week at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Martinez, D-Chicago, will speak at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 6, in the Student Center Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. Martinez’ appearance, part of Latino Heritage Month on campus, is sponsored by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, and co-sponsored by the Department of Workforce Education and Omega Delta Phi fraternity.

Media Availability

State Sen. Iris Y. Martinez will be available for interviews prior to her lecture. Martinez will meet with reporters, photographers and news crews at 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 6, in the lobby of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. Contact Christina Rich, institute project coordinator, at 618/453-4078 or by email at clrich@siu.edu for more information.

There are two reasons Martinez is a great guest with “multi-generational appeal” for the Institute to host, said David Yepsen, Institute director.

“First, she is a leading Latina political figure in the U.S. and she serves as a good role model for young Latinos and young women,” he said. “Second, she chairs the pension committee in the Illinois Senate. With all the controversy over the health of the state’s pensions systems, I’m sure her expertise will be of interest to employees and retirees in the SIUC community.”

Elected state senator in 2002, Martinez is serving her third term for the 20th District, which comprises neighborhoods on Chicago’s north side that include Albany Park, Avondale, Belmont, Cragin, Hermosa, Humboldt Park, Logan Square, and Portage Park, according to her biography.

In January 2007, then Senate President Emil Jones, Jr., named Martinez assistant majority leader, another post never previously held by a Latina, according to her biography. She is former chair and current vice chair of the Senate’s Pensions and Investments Committee, and chairs the Senate’s Licensed Activities Committee. Martinez is also a member of the Senate’s commerce, deficit reduction, education, energy, and redistricting committees.

Martinez is also chair of the Democratic National Committee Hispanic Caucus, and president of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. She is also a member of President Barack Obama’s Change Commission.

Martinez earned a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from Northeastern Illinois University in 2009.

For more information on this program, contact the Institute at 618/453-4009 or visit www.paulsimoninstitute.siuc.edu.