April Martinez named GMHS executive director

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Jul 10, 2019 - 01:31 PM

Photo: Gloucester native April Martinez has taken on the role of executive director of the Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society. She is shown with one of her rescue beagles, Skyler, in front of the shelter on Jackson Lane, south of Gloucester Court House. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

Gloucester native April Martinez has taken on the role of executive director of the Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society. She is shown with one of her rescue beagles, Skyler, in front of the shelter on Jackson Lane, south of Gloucester Court House. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

A Gloucester native with a strong passion for her community and a devotion to animals has taken the helm of the Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society. April Martinez was officially named to the role of executive director last week, but has been an integral part of the organization for a time before that.

Martinez said her career path has taken many twists and turns to get her to this point. Before coming to the GMHS, she has held various positions here and on the Peninsula including being a career coach, teaching college English, and working at Newport News Shipbuilding.

“Gloucester has a magnetic pull,” Martinez said. “A lot of people may leave and come back, but I’m back and here to stay.”

Martinez left the shipyard to look into doing something more community-focused and heart-driven. She first joined GMHS as a volunteer. It wasn’t long before the then-executive director asked her to come on board the staff as communications director.

In April, she took on the role of interim executive director when director Nichola Redmond resigned to take a position in another state.

“It’s the perfect blend of my desire to help people and my desire to help pets,” Martinez said. Her main goals include looking toward the future sustainability for the organization such as growing its endowment and increasing awareness of the importance of getting pets spayed and neutered. 

Last year, the organization was able to spay/neuter 2,777 animals, with people coming from as far as North Carolina to take advantage of the low-cost services. 

She also hopes to make the GMHS become a source of authoritative knowledge about happy, responsible pet ownership.

In her role, Martinez will oversee 125 volunteers and approximately 30 staff members. Those volunteers last year, she said, logged in approximately 2,000 hours of service to the organization. She said 1,600 pets were cared for in 2018. “It’s amazing really when you realize how much can be accomplished with a relatively small group of folks.”

Finally, Martinez said she plans to invest even more into the team at the GMHS. “I want the GMHS to be an opportunity for folks to grow their careers with us and let it not just be a job,” she said. 

“The GMHS family welcomes April Martinez as executive director,” said Steve Bland, president of the organization’s board of directors. “We are fortunate to have found someone local with the enthusiasm, passion and professionalism necessary to continue our mission of finding forever homes for our animals.”

“During the three-month period as interim executive director, April faced a number of challenges requiring the judgment and diplomacy so necessary in the duties of the executive director of an organization such as Gloucester-Mathews Humane Society,” said Dr. Richard Crowder, a member of its board. “These issues were invariably solved with efficiency, cheerfulness and always with an eye to the mission of our organization.”

Crowder added, “Having been successful in the academy and corporate America, April is well positioned to lead GMHS into the future. The iconic CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, said that one seeks potential employees with the intelligence and also the heart for the job. I am confident April brings these attributes to the field of animal welfare, and with her leadership, we can look to our future with optimism.”

Martinez and her husband, Manuel, reside in Gloucester. They have three rescue pets: two beagles, Bailey and Skyler, and a cat, Maggie.