Shelly Martin
Shelly Martin

Shelly Martin, assistant director of patient transport at the Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center, will be the keynote speaker Nov. 12 at the 17th annual Women’s Empowerment Luncheon for the University of Louisville Women’s Center. The 11:30 a.m. talk at the University Club, 200 E. Brandeis Ave., is titled “From Shells to Pearls: Identifying and Encouraging the Invisible Woman.”

Martin is a motivational speaker, diversity educator and grassroots activist. She inspires others, particularly women of color, by talking about the challenges she’s overcome that have shaped her into the person she is. At 21 years old, Martin was a high school dropout and mother of five children. She faced homelessness, welfare and domestic violence. She persevered and eventually earned a degree in comparative studies at Ohio State before continuing on to earn her master’s degree and current position in management.

At Ohio State, she is a member of the President and Provost’s Council on Women and founded “Women Moving Forward,” a luncheon event with the sole purpose to challenge and motivate women. She was selected in 2017 as one of five Ohio State Glass Breakers, where she did the following interview:

Q: Describe your career path that has led to your current post.

Martin: I worked at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center (OSUWMC) as a patient care associate for seven years, then I was offered a position at OSUWMC in the department of Education Development and Resources. After working in ED&R for several years, I started working in Nursing Education and from there I moved into management. I currently work as a manager in the Patient Transportation department.

Q: How would you describe your career goals today? How have they changed over time?

Martin: I want to develop people and impact change. I desire to help people understand that we have more in common than not in common. I want to continue to promote a sense of inclusion versus exclusion. I wanted to teach diversity and be part of the diversity initiatives.

I also wanted to find a way to impact the city of Columbus through public service and volunteerism. I’m from a community of people with low socio-economic status; little or no higher education; schools with poor graduation rates; women still dealing with gender and racial inequality. My goal is to be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves. I look for those opportunities where I can make a difference in the community and for the community of people that I live with.

Q: What kinds of challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

Martin: I have faced health challenges. I had a tumor in my head while I was an undergraduate, and one side of my face was paralyzed for over six months. While in the master’s program, I had breast cancer. I pressed forward knowing that I have an entire generation behind me depending on my success.

A significant challenge I continue to encounter has been work inequities. I’ve been required to do more work than my peers, and haven’t been equally compensated or valued. I’ve been denied advancement or promotion without explanation. I’ve worked to find ways to challenge inequities in the workplace in an effective way.

Q: What advice would you give to other women looking to reach similar goals?

Martin: Find a mentor, especially one who looks like you and can understand the unique challenges you face.

This might seem challenging, but I can still remember when I first reached out to Joyce Beatty, who was the senior vice president of Outreach and Engagement and is now a U.S. congresswoman. I just sent her an email and asked if I could meet with her and it went from there.

Network and invest in yourself. Always keep coffee money in your jar — you never know when you’ll be able to ask someone to coffee for a conversation. Remember, every conversation is an opportunity.

Q: Why do you think events like the Women’s Empowerment Luncheon are important for women?

Martin: Events like the Women Center Empowerment Luncheon are necessary so women can have relevant conversations about what is known, unknown and often sometimes forgotten. Women need events like this to remind them of just how rare, beautiful, valuable and unique they really are.

2019 Women’s Empowerment Luncheon: The Women’s Center will present several awards at the luncheon including The Tachau Gender Equity Award and Essay Contest and The Nichols Professional Development Award. Luncheon cost is $60 per person. Reservations accepted through Nov. 5 by calling 502-852-8976.

Niki King
Niki King Jones is positive she has the best job at the University of Louisville, serving the communication needs of the departments of fine arts and theatre, the School of Music, University Libraries and Alumni – all the fun, creative stuff. Before coming to UofL in 2015, Niki held communication positions in both private and nonprofit sectors in Louisville, Ky., including at Heaven Hill Distilleries and the Jewish Community of Louisville. For 10 years prior, she was a reporter at various newspapers across the country, most recently The Courier-Journal. Niki graduated from the University of Memphis with a BA in journalism and has a masters degree in community and leadership development from the University of Kentucky.