Vilma Martínez was the first woman to serve as US Ambassador to Argentina. She has been a member of the Inter-American Dialogue since 2014.
Martínez was previously a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson, where she specialized in federal and state court commercial litigation, advising companies on steps to enhance their equal employment opportunity policies and build diversity and inclusion initiatives into their business plans. Martínez also served as president and general counsel of the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). Her previous professional endeavors include work as litigation associate at Cahill, Gordon & Reindel in New York, and as a staff attorney with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Martínez served as chair of the Board of Regents of the University of California from 1984 to 1986, and was a regent from 1976 to 1990. She previously served as a board member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association and the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners, chair of the Pacific Council’s Study Group on Mexico, and a member of the advisory boards of Colombia Law School and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center of Southern California.
Martínez was appointed by US President William Clinton to serve on his Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations from 1994 to 1996. In 2009, US President Barack Obama appointed her US Ambassador to Argentina, a post she held until 2013. In recognition for her tenure and work, the Argentine government awarded Martínez the Order of May.
Martínez has been a popular speaker at educational institutions around the nation, including Harvard Law School, Yale University, University of Notre Dame, Stanford University, and her alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin, where she earned a bachelor of arts. She also holds a bachelor of laws from Columbia Law School and is a member of the California Bar Association.