Mel Martinez

Former U.S. Senator

Having arrived in the United States at the height of the Cold War from Cuba at age 15, Mel rose to be elected as the first Cuban-American to serve in the United States Senate.  During his term, he served on several committees including Armed Services; Foreign Relations; Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs; Energy and Natural Resources; Commerce, Science and Transportation; and the Special Committee on Aging.  He also served as General Chairman of the Republican National Committee in 2008.

Prior to his time in the Senate, President George W. Bush appointed Senator Martinez as the 12th Secretary of the United States Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) where he served from January 2001 through December 2003.

In 1998, he was elected as Mayor of Orange County (Orlando, FL) and before beginning his public service, he practiced law for 25 years.  He received both his B.S. and J.D. degrees from Florida State University.

He currently serves as Chairman of the Southeast & Latin America for JPMorgan Chase & Co. and is on the boards of Marriott Vacations Worldwide as Lead Director, NVR, Inc., and the Securiport Advisory Board.  He is also a Trustee at the Center for the Study of the Presidency & Congress (CSPC) in Washington, D.C. and is a member of the Order of Malta.

Senator Martinez has also received numerous awards and recognitions, among them the Department of the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award and Ohtli Silver Medal from the Government of Mexico.

In 2008, Senator Martinez published A Sense of Belonging; From Castro’s Cuba to the U.S. Senate, One Man’s Pursuit of the American Dream, the story of his departure from Cuba and his assimilation into American life.

Mel and his wife, Kitty, reside in Winter Park, Florida; they have three children and five grandchildren.