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Martinez, Magdalena, (Director of education programs)


Dr. Magdalena Martinez characterizes herself with many identifiers: a wife and a mother, a comadre, a professor, person of Mexican American heritage, and a Chicana—and much more depending on where she is and what she is doing. At UNLV, Dr. Martinez is an assistant professor in UNLV’s department of Public Policy and Leadership College of Urban Affairs, and the Director of Education Programs with the Lincy Institute. As her resume states, her “areas of expertise include education policy, leadership, access and equity for underrepresented student populations and the role of higher education in a diverse society.”

The youngest of six children born to Alicia and Marcos Martinez, her early years were spent in Los Angeles. Her father was a farmworker in the Bracero program and returned to Mexico, where he died at a young age. Her mother preferred life in the U.S. and exceled at investing in real estate to take care of her family. Over the years, members of the family settled in Las Vegas.

In 1986, when Magda, as her friends call her, was about sixteen years old, she too moved to Las Vegas. She attended Bishop Gorman High School and involved herself in the Latinx community. Among her activities was the Latino Youth Leadership Conference, where she met many lifelong friends and future leaders of southern Nevada.

Dr. Martinez holds her bachelor’s from UNLV, her master’s from Harvard, and her PhD from University of Michigan. She and her husband, Jose Melendrez, who is the Executive Director of Community Partnerships, School of Community Health Services at UNLV, have two children.