AAHHE: American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education, inc.

Ruebén Martinez

Ruebén Martinez

Owner and Founder
Librería Martinez Books & Art Gallery
Professor, Chapman University

Barber shops are known for being the genesis of sparking new ideas. In 1993, Mr. Martinez got an idea that grew from being a customer novelty into two new full-blown businesses. Over a course of a decade, a handful of Latino books, available for a few close customers to read and buy, evolved into two thriving businesses. Today, Librería Martinez Books & Art Gallery and Libros Para Niños, a children's bookstore, are recognized nationwide for showcasing the country's premiere Latino authors and artists.

In addition to managing the businesses, Mr. Martinez is a community leader who promotes reading, education and democracy. Some of his current activities and accomplishments include:

  • 2007 Professor Chapman University
  • 2006 Commencement Speaker at Cal State University Fullerton & Cal State University San Bernardino
  • 2006 Featured on CBS Early Show
  • 2006 Recipient of the Authors Guild Award for Distinguished Service to the Literary Community.
  • 2005 Named as one of the 100 People Who Shaped Orange County by The Orange County Register.
  • 2005 Selected as one of the Hottest 25 People in Orange County for 2005 by OC Metro.
  • 2004 Recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and Genius Grant in 2004 for his leadership in promoting literacy in the Latino community and serving as an inspirational American role model.
  • 2005 Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, Whittier College.
  • Board of Directors member Families in School, Los Angeles.
  • Advisory Board member of L.A. Best.
  • Founding member of the City of Santa Ana’s Reading City Committee.
  • Frequent guest commentator for KOCE (Channel 50) PBS television programs.
  • Weekly guest reader for "El Club de Libritos" on Univision’s "Primer Edición,"
  • Featured guest on PBS's "The Mexican Americans" and "Now" with David Brancaccio, The Tavis Smiley Show; Univision's "Primer Edición", "Despierta America" and "Cristina Show", ABC’s "Tell the Truth", NBC's "Dr. Laura Show", National Public Radio's "Human Kind", Larry Mantle Show; and Telemundo's "El Show de Rocio".
  • Featured personality in People Magazine, Publishers Weekly, People en Español, Entrepreneur Magazine, Inc. Magazine, Readers Digest, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, The Orange County Register, Excelsior de Orange County, Miniondas, OC Weekly, OC Metro, OC Business Journal, Bello Magazine, La Opinion.
  • Winner of the Golden Apple Award for HEEF, Small Business of the Year for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Influential Award for the United Way, Business Advocate Award for the SBA, "Latino Spirit Award" from the California Latino Legislative Caucus.
  • Commendations from the State of California, City of Los Angeles, United States Congress, California Teacher's Association, the California Library Association, Orange County's United Way, Orange County Human Relations Commission, City of Santa Ana, Santa Ana Unified School District, Rancho Santiago Community College District, Chapman University, California State University at Fullerton and the University of California at Irvine.
  • Recipient of the Criticas (Publishers Weekly) First Annual Spanish Language Community Advocate of the Year Award in 2002.
  • Commendations from nine of Mexico's publishers for promotion of literacy and education, at the XVI Feria Internacional del Libro de Guadalajara in 2002.

Though having received numerous titles and awards over the years, Martinez holds his titles as "father" and "grandfather" as most important of all. He is the proud parent of three children and grandfather of ten grandchildren.

A believer that one person can make a difference in people's lives, Martinez spends countless hours talking to customers at the bookstores, catching up with his hair business customers, motivating students at schools and colleges throughout the country, and engaging with citizens in political discourse.

In sum, Ruebén Martinez spends everyday informing, challenging and inspiring children and adults to do great things. He did it, and knows they can too.

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