Remembering Monica Martinez
By Robert Bard
In the midst of all the incredible sadness that we have experienced with the losses caused by COVID-19, we have also lost one of our most cherished and loved Latina leaders in our country. This is most poignant when the person who has left us is a longtime friend, partner, and role model whose passing has left a huge hole in our hearts.
On May 20, 2021, we lost our dear Monica Martinez. Loved by everyone who ever came in contact with her, I had the pleasure of knowing and working with her for over 20 years since she had joined Ford Motor Company in Detroit. I remember a day when our friend Carlos Orta, Monica and I cruised around San Diego with Rudy Beserra driving a Mustang convertible taking the sights during a United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Convention. We would repeat the adventure in many cities afterward. It was a joyful time so full of future possibilities.
Born in southwest Detroit, Monica’s passion for life was unrivaled. She was brilliant and had a heart of gold. Her corporate career took her to many places where she had the opportunity to champion our community while creating relationships for her corporate employer along the way. She joined Comerica Bank in 2006 where she quickly rose to the rank of senior vice president of national community affairs.
Her duties included directing Comerica’s Hispanic business community outreach in Michigan, Texas, Arizona, California, and Florida. In this position, she supported and served on the board of many organizations, including the Girl Scouts, the Michigan Carlos Orta, Vice President & Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Chief DE&I Officer at Tyson Ser Jobs for Progress. Foods.
Her life will continue to inspire every Latina to dream and fulfill those dreams with determination and hard work.
“There is a saying that reminds me of Monica that reads, ‘Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts,’” shares Raquel “Rocky” Egusquiza. “Monica’s heart smiled through her eyes, and she scattered smiles on all of us. Monica lived with passion and purpose. She was a connector, a mentor, a friend. Her commitment to the Hispanic community and for Detroit was infectious. Monica will be remembered for her smile, energy, philanthropy, hard work, and caring spirit. This world is a better place because Monica was part of it.”
Jane Garcia, vice chair for Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development, known as LA SED, describes Martinez as an incredible leader who was always assisting others and making sure that the community as a whole had access to resources at Comerica Bank. “She was always lifting her community, and her commitment to young Latinas was so incredible,” she shares.
Monica was an active member of the Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, most recently serving as Corporate Vice-Chair on the board of directors.
Prior to her work with Comerica Bank, Martinez worked for Ford Motor Company, where she held various positions on the corporate staff during her 10-year tenure.
“I first met Monica in 1998,” shares Carlos Orta, former Ford Colleague, and mentor. “I was at Ford Motor Company, based in Atlanta, and she was my administrative assistant, based in Detroit. The opportunity had come without any benefits, but she loved working at Ford. I knew we had hired a superstar soon after. I even joked that one day I would work for her! In 2000, Barry Coughlin, a highly respected Ford executive (who since retired), hired Monica into Ford Governmental Affairs as a PAC manager. The rest, as they say, is history. After I left Ford in 2004, we became great friends, and I continued to mentor her as she climbed the corporate ladder. It was through that mentorship that I fully understood all the challenges and roadblocks Latinas face in Corporate America. After Ford, she really enjoyed working at Comerica Bank and went on to have many well-deserved promotions. While every loss hurt, this one is really tough. You never expect younger colleagues, friends, or mentees to pass away before you do. I have no doubt she is in a better place today.”
Monica was a 2008 alumnus of the prestigious Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility HACR Young Hispanic Corporate Achievers (YHCA) program, HACR’s accelerated leadership program for Hispanics identified by their companies as future C-suite leaders. According to Cid Wilson, president and CEO, Monica had been singled out by Comerica Inc. as a high-potential leader.
She was a speaker at HACR Symposiums multiple times over the years, including 2017 when we were in her home city of Detroit and in 2019 in Miami, where she shared her inspiring professional journey of achievements.
In 2019, Monica was ranked as one of the “50 Most Powerful Latinas in Corporate America” by Fortune Magazine/ALPFA. As successful as Monica was professionally, she never forgot our Latino community. She was deeply active with many organizations locally in Detroit as well as nationally.
Many are forever thankful to Monica for her mentorship, sponsorship, and leadership. She was admired by many, including me.
Monica will be deeply missed but never forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and loved ones.”