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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month: Spotlight on DRI CEO Dean Martinez

  • Published September 15, 2023

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we at DRI believe it is essential to recognize and celebrate the incredible contributions of Hispanic individuals to the association space and beyond.

This article shines a light on Dean Martinez, CEO of DRI.

Dean Martinez: A Hispanic CEO Making a Difference

As CEO of DRI, Dean leads the largest international membership organization of attorneys defending the interests of business and individuals in civil litigation. Dean is a first-generation Cuban-American whose parents came to the United States after fleeing communist Cuba. Although they themselves had limited education, Dean’s immigrant parents instilled in him the importance of being a leader in your community and earning an education. As a result, Dean has a Bachelor’s degree from DePaul University and a J.D. from the School of Law at Loyola University Chicago. He is an attorney who has spent over 20 years leading wide-ranging association activities and high-visibility government projects. Prior to joining DRI, Dean spent 11 years with APICS/ASCM. He served as its General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer, and he also worked for four years as the Secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, where he was responsible for a $450 million annual budget and over 800 employees.

Under his leadership, DRI has actively promoted diversity of thought and provided opportunities for underrepresented groups in the legal profession while broadly advocating for the integrity of the defense bar. Experienced as both an attorney and corporate leader, Dean continually emphasizes the importance of embracing different perspectives and backgrounds within the legal community.

When asked about the importance of Hispanic Heritage Month and expanding opportunities for Hispanic leaders, Dean said: “Now more than ever I believe the importance of ensuring we have diversity of thought in all of our decision-making to ensure we can meet the needs of our members and the civil diverse bar. The only way to have diversity of thought is by having a diverse team.”

Hispanic Leadership in Associations

The Hispanic community has made some strides in leadership positions across countless sectors, including associations and nonprofits. The representation of Hispanic professionals in executive roles within these organizations has been steadily growing. However, there is still much work to be done.

According to the latest data from the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility, Hispanics hold about 4% of corporate board positions in the United States and Puerto Rico. However, less than 4% of Hispanics serve as CEOs, despite the Hispanic population being projected to increase to 119 million—28.6% of the nation’s population—by 2060. Furthermore, the organization reported that in 2021, Latinas represented just under 3% percent of corporate executives and less than 2% percent of board directors. The opportunity—and need—for improvement in this space is clear.

The Road Ahead

While Dean’s story is inspiring, DRI acknowledges that there is still work to be done in increasing the representation of Hispanic executives and CEOs across all industries. Hispanic Heritage Month serves as a reminder of the rich blend of cultures and backgrounds that make up the US and the incredible potential that lies within the Hispanic community.

During Hispanic Heritage Month, we celebrate leaders like Dean, whose leadership and dedication have made a significant impact in their respective fields. As we continue to recognize and uplift Hispanic leaders, we should also reflect on the progress made in increasing Hispanic representation in executive roles.

It is our hope that, in the years to come, representation for Hispanic association executives and CEOs will continue to grow. The stories of leaders like Dean serve as a reminder to us to strive for a more inclusive environment, where everyone can make a lasting positive impact.