Governor Moore Appoints Yolanda Maria Martinez as Special Secretary of Small, Minority, and Women Business Affairs

Published: 6/22/2023

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Wes Moore today announced the appointment of Yolanda “Maria” Martinez as Governor’s Office of Small, Minority, and Women Business Affairs Special Secretary. Her appointment takes effect July 5.

“As one of our state’s most respected business, community, and philanthropic leaders, Maria brings vision, heart, and experience to this critical role,” said Gov. Moore. “Maria shares our administration’s unwavering commitment to ensuring that we have a fair, inclusive, and accountable procurement process for our small, minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses. I am grateful to Maria for her willingness to take on this critical position in state government, and I am excited for the work we will accomplish in the years to come.”

Established in 1986, the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority, and Women Business Affairs serves as the state’s coordinating office that​ connects the small business community to greater economic opportunities in both the public and private sectors, and is charged with administering the state’s three socioeconomic business procurement programs: the Minority Business Enterprise, Veteran Small Business Enterprise, and Small Business Reserve programs.

A first-generation American and a lifelong Marylander, Martinez – a respected entrepreneur, community leader, and philanthropist – brings more than 25 years of private sector experience, including nearly two decades as a minority woman business owner.  With the support of a women’s entrepreneurship program, in 2001 Martinez started respiratory sleep medicine healthcare company Respira, which grew into a successful multimillion-dollar operation. She is currently the Chief Strategy Officer at Project Enhancement Corporation, a nationwide environmental, health, safety, and national security firm serving the federal government. 

Martinez has served on numerous boards and commissions at the local and national level. She is the current board chair of the Ellicott City Partnership and formerly served as chair of the Baltimore Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Governor's Commission on Hispanic Affairs. She also served as co-chair on the Advisory Council on Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises for the City of Baltimore, as a member of the advisory board to the Baltimore Chapter of the NAACP, and as a member of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board Workforce Development Task Force.

“I am honored to have been chosen by Governor Moore to help in this incredibly important mission,” said Martinez. “As an entrepreneur and minority small businesswoman, I have a perspective shared by thousands in our state who have found it challenging to enter and thrive in Maryland’s business environment. Among these challenges are complex policies and contractual structures and procurement practices and lack of clear and transparent lines of communication between small businesses and our state. I believe that if we address the requirements, the enforcement, and the communication of this cyclical business structure, we can create a continually improving business environment within the State of Maryland.”

Governor Moore’s selection of Martinez to take helm of the state agency overseeing Maryland’s socioeconomic business procurement programs comes on the heels of an Executive Order issued in February that requires data reporting for state agencies’ minority business enterprise program compliance. The report found that some agencies lack strategies and programs to promote both engagement with and participation from Maryland minority business enterprises in the state procurement process, and compliance efforts were inconsistent across state agencies.

As Special Secretary, Martinez will lead the administration’s efforts to increase internal and external accountability and performance measures on the Minority Business Enterprise, Veteran Small Business Enterprise, and Small Business Reserve business procurement programs, while coordinating with state agencies to identify strategies, increase engagement, and expand opportunities for small businesses to grow and succeed in Maryland.