Taos native Cecilia Martinez was selected as one of Time magazine's list of 2020's 100 Most Influential People. The daughter of Emma and Richard Coco of Talpa, and the late Rudolfo Martinez, Taos' native daughter has risen to high esteem in the sustainable and renewable energy fields.
Martinez has made a lifelong commitment to helping the environment, and those populations that bear the unfortunate brunt of being adversely affected more than the communities around them.
Martinez was nominated for the Time's 100 list by New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker - an early contender in the Democratic presidential primary - whom she worked with on various climate issues and policies.
Martinez is co-founder and executive director of CEED - the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy - a nonprofit based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that focuses on national climate policy and its effects. Along with conducting policy analysis, Martinez said that CEED tries "to inform and educate Congress as to what communities on the ground need."
She also noted that her organization helped create an "equitable and just climate platform," which she said was used by the House Select Committee on Climate Crisis "as a framework to address environmental justice and equity, among many other things."
Martinez and CEED's scope of ideas to change climate and energy policy are foundational to certain national political ideals. "The majority of people now understand that climate change is a problem," said Martinez. "They're seeing the changes right before their eyes. New Mexico had unbelievably hot days this year that have not happened before for that long a stretch," she pointed out.
In terms of climate change deniers, Martinez said there are those "who are not paying attention to the science." She said her best hope is to provide a dialogue with the public. "I don't know that there's a whole lot we can do except keep educating people," she said.
Martinez said that she believes the right to clean air and energy are basic human rights. "The United Nations has a declaration of human rights that includes the environment," said Martinez. "From our perspective, everybody should have the right to clean water, and a clean and healthy environment in order for them and their families to be safe. So that's the approach we take," she said, referring to CEED.
Martinez credited the basis of her work on the fact that she "grew up with the environment just being a part of daily life," she explained. "Growing up in Taos with the mountains, everybody knows there is a beautiful ecosystem that exists there," she said. Martinez was born in Taos and graduated from Taos High School, and believes her local roots "translated into an ethic of protecting and caring for our environment."
She earned degrees in political science and public policy from Stanford University, New Mexico State University and the University of Delaware.
Along with the issue of climate change, Martinez works with the issue of race as well, specifically in relation to the climate. She believes racial inequality and climate legislation go hand-in-hand, and disproportionately affect communities of color.
"There is more and more understanding that we have to figure out a way that this benefits people's lives first and foremost.
"Our children and our grandchildren are going to be affected by this global problem unless we do sometime now to address the issue of climate change," she said.
To this day, Martinez and the team at CEED fight to protect local cultures and the general public from the effects of climate change. "Equity and justice are foundational principles of addressing climate change," said Martinez.
Other members of the family who said they were very proud of Martinez’s national accomplishments are her son Daniel Martinez and wife Beth, and son Michael Martinez and wife Jamie, as well as the loves of her life - her two grandchildren, Everett, and a yet to be named boy born October 15th.
Find out more about Martinez and CEED at ceed.org.