Acting as a strategist and agent for change, Mirta Martin, PhD, immigrated to the Unites States as a teenager with her grandmother from Cuba. She always had an inner desire to help others, and the process of leaving behind her family and entering a country with a language she didn’t speak made the journey to the Unites States one that shaped her for life. Her grandmother pushed her to go to college, saying it was critical. Since Dr. Martin was unaware of how to get there, she sought out individuals who showed her how to apply for scholarships and get loans. Despite the fact that she had been accepted to Duke University, she wasn’t sure about attending because of her financial situation. Thankfully, she had a teacher who was willing to write her a check and she was able to attend. She is adamant that it is now her time to pay it forward. She is so grateful for all of her life experiences, for they have provided her with the ability to shape the next generation of leaders and make a contribution to the future of society.
Fluent in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish, Dr. Martin serves as the senior education adviser to former president of Centro Fox, Vicente Fox, since 2017 and president of Fairmont State University in West Virginia since 2018. She began her professional career as a management associate at First Virginia Bank Colonial in 1982, remaining in this position for two years before moving up the ranks to assistant branch manager from 1984 to 1985 and branch manager/banking officer from 1985 to 1988. She then joined Dominion Bank as assistant vice president from 1988 to 1991 and vice president from 1991 to 1993, and later served as senior vice president of First Union National Bank from 1993 to 1994. Adventuring into the education field, Dr. Martin joined Averett University in Danville, Virginia, as an associate professor from 1992 to 2001, also serving as interim dean and regional director in 1995.
Following this tenure, Dr. Martin served the University of Richmond as associate dean of the Robins School of Business and executive director of the Management Institute from 2000 to 2003. She then served as an education and executive consultant for Consulting Alliance Group, Inc., from 2004 to 2005 and special assistant to the president at John Tyler Community College (JTCC) from 2005 to 2009, also serving the latter’s foundation as executive vice president/director. Subsequently, from 2009 to 2014, she served as special assistant to the chancellor of the Virginia Community College System and dean of the School of Business at Virginia State University (VSU). Dr. Martin lastly joined Fort Hays State University in Kansas as president from 2014 to 2016 and presidential advisor from 2016 to 2017. Since 2017, she has also served as the managing director of the Kirchner Group.
Prior to the start of her professional life, Dr. Martin pursued a formal education at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, earning a Bachelor of Science in psychology and political science in 1982. She then matriculated at the Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond, where she received a Master of Business Administration in finance in 1992. She went on to attain a PhD in business strategy and leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond in 1996. In addition, Dr. Martin received a certificate in presidential leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2018.
Involved in her local community, Dr. Martin served as a presidential advisor to the Kansas Board of Regents from 2016 to 2017. Since 2006, she has served as the founding director and president of the Virginia Latino Higher Education Network (VALHEN), open to Virginia resident students who are of Latino/Hispanic heritage. Dr. Martin has also served on the advisory board of Racing Towards Diversity Magazine since 2012, directed the Kansas Counsel on Economic Education since 2014 and served as a board member for the Valley Hope Association since 2015, among other roles. Likewise, she maintains involvement with numerous organizations related to her field.
A finalist for the Innovation in Education Educator of the Year Award in 2014, Dr. Martin was awarded the Best Paper in Session Award at the Clute Institute International Business Conference in Maui, Hawaii, in 2015 and was named University Partner of the Year by Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity in 2016. She went on to receive the National Outstanding New Program Award from NASPA at the Hispanic College Institute in 2017, and was named among the Women of Distinction by North Central West Virginia Magazine in 2018 and a Professional Transplant by the West Virginia Executive in 2019, among many other accolades. Looking toward the future, Dr. Martin will be continuing to make a difference in the lives of the next generation of leaders. She attributes her success to her grit, perseverance, faith and family.