Marianne Martinez, Austin Ambassador
In late May, about 75 representatives of Austin’s ever-growing international community gathered at City Hall to celebrate the career, the accomplishments and the impending retirement of Marianne Martinez. As the Program Coordinator for the Austin Chapter of Sister Cities International, she has devoted many years of invaluable assistance to the numerous delegations from around the world who have been visiting Central Texas with more and more frequency.
Martinez has likewise helped to increase the significant international presence at SXSW — as evidence of this growth, the 2017 event featured registrants from 94 different countries. In addition to her official duties at the City of Austin, she has also served in the SXSW Volunteer Program over the last several years. In this capacity, she spends many hours in the Registration / Badge Pick-Up area on the first floor of the Austin Convention Center so that she can personally welcome as many of our city’s March visitors as possible.
While the current occupant of the White House pushes for a much more isolationist approach, I am very proud that many forward-thinking leaders in Austin (and numerous other US cities like it) understand that now is the time for more global cooperation — not less of it. The future demands that we cultivate more and more people like Marianne Martinez, people whose friendly demeanor can help facilitate the complex relationships that make us stronger and safer.
Later this week, Fred Schmidt and Andy Jones (pictured above with Marianne Martinez at her retirement event in May) will preside over the Austin team spreading the Central Texas gospel at London Tech Week. In light of recent terror attacks, June 2017 may not seem like the best time to visit the UK. Actually it is. These unfortunate incidents dictate that we strengthen our ties to Europe — and make more connections that will further enhance our role as one of the world’s top cities.
Hugh Forrest tries to write at least four paragraphs per day on Medium. These posts often (but not always) cover technology-related trends. When not attempting to wordsmith or meditating, he serves as Chief Programming Officer at SXSW in Austin.