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Walsenburg Youth walks the halls of Congress

WASHINGTON DC– Craig Martinez of Walsenburg was chosen from hundreds of candidates from across the nation to participate in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s (CHCI) nationally recognized and highly competitive Public Policy Fellowship Program.

    Craig received his Bachelor of Science Degree from Stanford University and holds a Master of Public Health Degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  He is also a Doctorate in Public Health candidate in child and adolescent health and development at Johns Hopkins and hopes to finish during the summer of 2009.  Prior to graduate school, he worked in a number of community-based organizations addressing adolescent health concerns in the San Francisco Bay Area including HIV/AIDS, violence prevention, and environmental health. Craig also worked as an ophthalmic technician in a network of eye clinics throughout the State of New Mexico.

    CHCI, the nation’s premier Hispanic youth leadership development and educational organization, selected Craig for its nine-month exclusive program that offers talented Latinos who recently earned their undergraduate degree the opportunity to gain hands-on experience at the national level working in Congress, federal agencies, national non-profit organizations, and corporate America.

    “This fellowship has given me unparalled access to Capitol Hill where I have learned a tremendous amount of public policy. With the skills that I am developing, I will be able to advocate for policies that meet the health needs of both low income and minority communities,” said Martinez.  Craig is currently placed in the office of Senator Edward Kennedy’s Majority Health Policy Office, Senate HELP Committee.

    As a fellow in the HELP Committee, Craig maintains a portfolio of health policy issues related to public health, preventive services, environmental health, and bioterrorism.  He is responsible for researching legislative initiatives, meeting with key stakeholders, and drafting legislative proposals.  His additional responsibilities include coordinating HELP committee hearings, drafting statements, and tracking health-related amendments to major bills.  The fellows’ intensive work experience is enhanced by weekly leadership training sessions that allow them to meet with national leaders and engage in substantive policy discussions. 

    “CHCI is committed to providing programs for Latino youth that develop and increase our nation’s pool of talented Latino professionals and future leaders,” said Esther Aguilera, CHCI President and CEO. “Our goal is to ensure our future workforce is prepared and qualified to lead in a global, innovation economy.”

    CHCI’s Public Policy Fellowship Program provides all participants with roundtrip transportation to and from Washington, D.C., health insurance, and a gross monthly stipend of $2,200 to help cover housing and local expenses.  All this is possible through longstanding support from partners such as Motorola USA, Citigroup, Inc., Azteca America, DaVita, National Association of Realtors, Washington Mutual, and State Farm Insurance Companies.

    To complete the Program, participants are also required to work on a collaborative community service project that serves the local Washington D.C. metropolitan area.  On March 20, 2009, CHCI Fellows partnered with The Home Depot Foundation and DC Habitat for Humanity to help build homes for low income residents.

    After completing his fellowship, Craig hopes to secure a position in a congressional office, research institute, or federal agency that focuses on health policy.  He hopes to use his knowledge and skills to advocate for the health of low-income communities of color.  In his spare time, Craig likes to travel to foreign countries, eat new and familiar foods, and spend time with his two puppies Nico and Naya.  His favorite pastime, however, is roasting the green chilies his mother sends him from Colorado every fall.

    Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) is a nonprofit and nonpartisan 501(c) (3) organization.  The CHCI Board of Directors is comprised of Hispanic Members of Congress, nonprofit leaders and corporate executives.  For more information, call CHCI at (202) 543-1771 or visit www.chci.org.