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Cornerstone's Professional of the Year: Maria Martinez of Border FCU
Monday, April 11, 2016 6:55 AM

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Wednesday evening, during the 2016 Annual Meeting, Cornerstone Credit Union League held a special awards dinner for the many deserving professionals in the region whose good works positioned them for honor and recognition. For 2016, the winner of the Professional of the Year award went to Maria J. Martinez.

Martinez has been president and chief executive officer at BFCU in Del Rio, Texas, since June 1997, and for three years before that she served as its vice president of lending. In total, she has been with the credit union movement for more than 28 years.

At the time she became CEO of BFCU in 1997, the credit union had two service locations, $33 million in assets, more than 13,000 members, and 35 employees. Today BFCU has grown to more than $140 million in assets, 24,450 members, 115 employees, five office locations, and 12 proprietary ATMs.

Included in her exceptional resume of accomplishments, Martinez is a 2005 graduate of the Credit Union Development Educators program (CUDE).

Martinez was instrumental with BFCU obtaining the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) certification, a low-income designation, and approval from the IRS for BFCU to be an ITIN certified acceptance agent.

She is committed to political advocacy and has made it a priority for her staff and volunteers to contribute to the PAC and become politically engaged. She organizes fundraisers throughout the year and, as a result, BFCU received the Cornerstone Credit Union League Super Advocate Award in 2013 and 2014.

Martinez also attends political events to voice her stance on issues affecting the credit union industry, like serving the underserved and financial services to unbanked immigrants. In protecting the financial rights of credit union members, in 2012 Martinez testified in front of Congress at a field hearing called “An Examination of the Challenges Facing Community Financial Institutions in Texas.”

In 2013, Martinez was invited by Congressman Xavier Becerra to serve at the 2013 Latino Leaders Roundtable, which met with members of the U.S. House Democratic Leadership, members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and top officials of the Obama Administration to discuss issues critical to Latinos. The roundtable took place at the Capitol in Washington, DC.

To promote political advocacy among Millennials, Martinez started a group of young professionals at Border FCU, made up of staff 35 years and younger. This group is now called the Professionals United to Leading a Successful Economy, or PULSE. Under her leadership, PULSE focuses on fundraising for the PAC and promotes voting in all elections among Millennials.

She's been recognized for an array of honors and awards throughout her career. She won the Leadership of Excellence award from the Texas Workforce Solutions Board for service as the chair of the Workforce Solutions Middle Rio Grande Board of Directors from 2011–2013. She was recognized by the Del Rio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as “Business Woman of the Year.” And in 2015, Martinez was one of 12 Latina business and community leaders honored by the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce as a Woman of Distinction.

The purpose of the Cornerstone Professional of the Year Award is to recognize an individual's accomplishments, time, and effort in support and promotion of the credit union movement. This report contains only a small list of Martinez's achievements. She has certainly proved worthy of the Professional of the Year award, and Cornerstone offers its congratulations!