Martinez’s star has risen steadily since then, taking her to Macy’s, where she managed their supplier diversity initiative nationally, then to TriHealth and the Yale New Haven Health System and now to Thomas Jefferson, where she oversees D&I initiatives for both the university and its healthcare system.
Giselle Coleman-Martinez, meanwhile, has her eye on a U.S. State Department career. In addition to being bilingual in English and Spanish, she is fluent in French and is learning Portuguese. Long interested in the colonial relationships that global powers have with their territories, she is planning a thesis that will explore the relationships forged by the United States and France with their Latin American and Caribbean territories and those that Asian nations have with their territories.
“I want to figure what it is that makes the United States territories so developmentally behind everyone when they’re in the same hemisphere as the U.S.,” Giselle says. “They receive so much foreign and international assistance from different countries to build and develop, but they’re still not as developed as the U.S. I’ve always wondered why.”
During an internship last summer with the State Department, Coleman-Martinez served as a case assistant in international child abduction and got a behind-the-scenes look at the federal government and its powerful influence on the world stage. Her dream job is to work as a foreign service officer at State, providing assistance to countries that are developing their economic and educational systems.
Looking ahead, Martinez and her daughter seek to continue making a positive difference in the world. Giselle would like to see more help for immigrants and a greater appreciation for what they bring to the Greater Cincinnati community. "There are a lot more immigrants in Cincinnati than most people realize,” she says. "Price Hill [has a lot of] Guatemalan, Mexican, Honduran families. That’s where I did almost all of my volunteering. There are lots of families who are looking for extra support. They’re not from Cincinnati; they didn’t grow up here. They don’t know the life we have.”
Martinez seeks to continue cultivating an environment of inclusion and respect “throughout each corner” of the sprawling Thomas Jefferson institution. “I want to hear our patients, our students, our employees say that ‘Jefferson is the place I want to be because they respect me and I make an impact because I feel included.’”
No surprise: mother and daughter could not be closer.
“My mom is my superhero,” Coleman-Martinez says. “How she has shaped her career has been astonishing to me. That’s why I’ve worked so hard; I’m so impressed by my mom. I want her to see me the way I see her. I see my mom as this hard-working woman who has done absolutely everything to make sure that I’m OK and also successful. I want to be like my mom. I want to be successful. I want to figure out how to be a great woman.”
And Lisette Martinez could not be prouder of her daughter’s strength, determination and her developing role as a servant leader. “She is also precious,” Martinez adds, “in that she’s sensitive and empathetic and compassionate. I’m proud that she is adopting a direction of her life to make an impact on this world.”