Oregon Occupational Public Health Program Staff Spotlight: Alan Martinez

On our Staff Spotlight today, we feature Alan Martinez, program coordinator for Oregon Health Authority’s Occupational Public Health Program. Alan is a collaborator and partner for the Institute’s Oregon Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (OR-FACE) program that is supported by a cooperative agreement with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

OR-FACE conducts surveillance, investigation and assessment of traumatic occupational fatalities in Oregon and produces safety materials to promote worker safety. OR-FACE investigations of fatal occupational incidents assess risk factors that include the working environment, the worker, activity, tools and the role of management.

Tell us more about yourself (career path, goals, anything you want us to know, etc.)

“I grew up in Woodburn, Oregon and come from a farmworker background. I attended college thanks to the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP). While in college I met people from all over the world including my roommates who were fromPhoto of Alan Martinez from the OR FACE OHA Occupational Public Health Program working in the field next to a pick up truck.jpg Kenya and Somalia. It was awesome learning about their culture and traditions. I graduated from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration.

After I graduated in 2010, I was looking for employment during one of the most challenging financial times in U.S. history. After graduation, I worked at a retirement home in Woodburn, where I met wonderful people who I enjoyed working with. This led to me working for the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker Program, a federal program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor in assistance with the Oregon Employment Department. It is thanks to the MSFW Program that I started working with the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker population and making a difference in their lives. I learned that the community where I came from continues to be a marginalized community in society. It is a beautiful program that taught me about Public Health, advocacy, leadership, compliance laws, climate change and more. I worked on many projects with different governmental and non-governmental agencies to help farmworkers and growers.

One of my future goals includes pursuing a Master’s in Public Health with a focus on Health Promotion/Social Work or Environmental Systems and Human Health. I am fully Bilingual as I came from a Latinx community in Woodburn where most of the kids spoke Spanish even at home. I had the privilege of living in Farmworker Housing at the Nuevo Amanecer neighborhood complex in the early 2000s, I can still recall playing basketball with the kids in the barrio (neighborhood) and listening to cumbia, salsa, hip-hop, merengue, nortenas and duranguense.”

What current research projects are you working on?

“I am going to be working extensively with the Pesticide Exposure Safety & Tracking (PEST) and Occupational Public Health Program (OPHP) to determine the effects of human pesticide-related illness on Oregonians and the implications on our communities. Part of my responsibilities will include data analysis, outreach and education and seeking to reduce acute pesticide-related illness/injury. I will also be working with Pesticide Exposure Safety & Tracking (PEST) and Occupational Public Health (OPHP) Programs to develop educational materials.”

What do you like most about working supporting Oregon Health Authority?

“I really enjoy the family atmosphere in the agency and getting to know other members within the agency. I am continuing to learn as the days go by and learning about other programs administered by the Oregon Health Authority. Just a few weeks ago I attended the 2022 Pesticide Symposium in person at Chemeketa Community College and met personnel from other state agencies and learned about the many topics related to pesticides and their impacts on our communities.

In the next few months, I will look back and look to my initial days and be happy about my contributions to the State of Oregon through the PEST and OPHP Programs.  I am also very passionate about understanding how climate change impacts health and preparing our communities for the future. At the end of the day, I am also very passionate to work with the OPHP programs and seek to improve workplace safety and health and prevent hazards for our fellow Oregonians.”

What are your favorite hobbies outside of work? Home-life is very important to our health and well-being and is interconnected to our work-life.

“I have a soon-to-be four-year-old boy and a one-year-old little girl both born in April. I also have a cat named Vanilla and Taco. I enjoy landscaping and gardening and I don’t use pesticides; I tend to use Integrated Pest Management principles when dealing with pests. I like going on walks with my son in the afternoons after work and love seeing how happy he is when he spends time with me.

I really enjoy traveling, I haven’t traveled since 2019 outside of the country. I really want to go back to Guatemala and visit my wife’s town of Quetzaltenango. It is a beautiful place with culture, traditions and beautiful scenery. I also plan to visit my family in Mexico, I haven’t seen them since 2017 and would love to enjoy time at themercados (markets) and visit the Monte Alban pyramids in Oaxaca City to celebrate the place where my parents came from.”

Tune in next week as we highlight a part 2 Staff Spotlight featuring Jackie Boyd. Jackie is a collaborator of the OR-FACE Program with Alan from the Oregon Health Authority’s OPHP Program. Learn more about OR-FACE here and our latest OR-FACE blog post.