Ashanti Martinez is looking out for Maryland’s best interests as a state delegate for the Old Line State. The representative is intent on harnessing the power of policy and government for the 130,000 constituents she serves. Learn about Martinez’s cofounding of the Prince George’s County Pride Festival as well as how the advocate is helping those hard of hearing get access to more resources and solutions to make their lives easier.
What do you do today?
I am a state legislator for Maryland. As a member of the House of Delegates, I’m responsible for ensuring our state laws and budget serve my community.
What is your greatest career accomplishment to date?
This year during my first legislative session I was able to pass my first bill. HB401 will help provide access to over-the-counter hearing aids for our most vulnerable Marylanders. Helping create greater access to hearing devices helps lower the cost of treatment for hard of hearing Marylanders.
What is your greatest personal accomplishment to date?
Cofounding Prince George’s County Pride (PGC Pride) has been a major personal accomplishment. PGC Pride is an organization that celebrates, promotes, and connects the LGBTQ community in Prince George’s County every day.
How do you tackle problems and overcome challenges?
I believe in listening to others: when we start listening to those closest to the pain, we’ll move towards solutions to the challenges. I’m the first to admit I’m not above critique and lean on others to build a coalition so we can tackle problems together. In my work, you can’t do anything meaningful alone.
What do you do today to impact your community?
Every day I work to ensure my community is protected and provided the resources and level of service they deserve. As a State Delegate, I represent 130,000-plus people in the Maryland General Assembly, from hosting resource fairs to responding to constituent issues and advocating for policy.
Describe yourself in five words.
Resourceful, loving, unapologetic, and connecter.
What are your future goals?
My goal is to use policy/government to reduce harm in communities of color. I don’t aspire to serve in any particular office or level of government. If I’m reducing harm, I’m achieving my goal.
What is your favorite form of self-care?
Spending time outdoors. I love cycling or simply doing a walk around my neighborhood. That is the time I get to disconnect and enjoy all around me.
What do you like to do for fun when you’re not working?
Hanging with friends and family. I work a lot so any time I get to spend with the people I love is treasured.
What does making NextGen Collective’s 30 Under 30 list mean to you?
Recognition for our work is always appreciated but a humble appreciation comes from being recognized by your community. Being a NextGen Collective 30 Under 30 means I’m seen by the folks that matter most to me.
What is your personal theme song?
“Bars Into Captions” by Quavo & Takeoff
What is your Latino background?
I am Puerto Rican. My family moved to the mainland US over sixty years ago.
Editor’s note: This Q&A has been edited for clarity.