Melody Martínez

Senior Equity Facilitator/Consultant

What do you do at CEI?

I am a Senior Equity Facilitator/Consultant. I help teams build progressive, collaborative, compassionate, and values-aligned workplaces in service of racial equity and social justice.

What did you do prior to CEI?

I had two previous careers prior to joining CEI. My first career was in veterinary medicine where I worked as a Certified Veterinary Technician/Nurse for a decade. I worked in small animal clinics across New England, at a farmed animal shelter in central New York, and at an emergency and critical care hospital in Portland. Though not currently working in this field full time, it’s a central part of my identity and it’s work I still engage with in my free time.

Before joining the team at CEI, I’d also been in the nonprofit sector for nine years.  I worked in program management, conference organizing, and as an equity director. The majority of my time in the nonprofit sector, however, was in philanthropy and community organizing. In roles at Social Justice Fund NW and New Economy Coalition, I organized and trained community members to understand their power and privilege, fundraise hundreds of thousands of dollars for social change, and participate across differences in collaborative, democratic decision-making. 

Throughout that time, I’ve also managed a private racial equity and organizational change management consulting practice and have worked as an independent contractor in collaboration with various consulting agencies, including Resolutions Northwest, Class Action, and the Nonprofit Democracy Network.

Why do you do this work?

Personally, I feel compelled to leave this world having made it a better place than when I arrived. The ancestors I never knew were strong enough to ensure that I would one day be born. The ancestors I know of were brave enough to start an underground movement to topple a racist dictator who held power in the Dominican Republic for three decades. It’s in my DNA to strive and fight for justice, regardless of the role I am in or with whom I am struggling or building alongside.

As a Black woman who comes from a poor and working class immigrant family that hails from the first point of colonization in the western hemisphere, I do this work to heal the pain of the generations before me, to make more room for their stories and my full self, and to make space for those who will come after me. I do this work as someone who strongly identifies as a worker and understands the value of my own labor and yours, as someone who believes that capitalism, white supremacy, and anti-blackness diminish our humanity, especially at work. I understand what it’s like to feel both powerless and powerful and I choose to carry as much of myself in the latter, while supporting others in realizing their infinite potential and power in creating a more joyful and just world.

What do you believe?
I believe that healing and justice is possible and that it will require first naming uncomfortable truths. I believe the places where we dedicate our time should feel as liberating as possible. I believe the process toward liberation must be liberating. I believe intentionally making time for rest, relationships, and play is necessary to achieving justice. I believe we all deserve a world free of pain and suffering. I believe every being deserves access to unlimited joy. I believe a better, more just world is possible and that we’re already building it.

What is a question that guides your work?

What would we do differently if we truly valued Black lives?


“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” – Audre Lorde