Monica Martinez is a lifetime public servant, parent, and San Lorenzo Valley resident who is ready to be a fresh voice for the 5th District. Currently serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Santa Cruz County’s largest health and human services nonprofit, Encompass Community Services, Monica is dedicated to providing behavioral health, housing, and early childhood development to children, adults, and families across our community. She is also the Chair of the Santa Cruz County Parks and Recreation Commission and serves on the Executive Committee of the Santa Cruz County Health Improvement Partnership.
Monica was born and raised in Bakersfield, CA, where her parents taught her the value of hard work and public service. Her father is a retired Kern County Fire Captain and her mother is a retired elementary school teacher, both career-long union members and community volunteers. However, Bakersfield wasn’t a welcoming place for an openly LGBTQ+ Latinx woman to raise a family and have a successful career. After pursuing her B.A. in Political Science at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and a Master’s in Public Administration at University of Southern California, Monica launched her career in public service on Los Angeles’s Skid Row, serving women who were experiencing homelessness. In 2010, she was recruited to bring her professional expertise and passion to Santa Cruz County to serve as the Executive Director of the local nonprofit Housing Matters. While at Housing Matters, Monica co-founded the 180/180 Initiative, a community partnership that housed 180 of the most vulnerable individuals experiencing homelessness in less than 2 years.
In 2014, Monica became the CEO of Encompass Community Services, the largest community-based nonprofit in Santa Cruz County. Encompass provides services in behavioral health, family and social well-being, early childhood education, and housing. Monica has a reputation for being a courageous advocate for a more equitable and effective use of public resources. She has forged numerous public/private partnerships to address unmet needs in youth mental health, substance-use disorder treatment, affordable housing, and criminal justice. Most recently, she secured a widely celebrated $9.4 million grant from the State of California to develop a new behavioral health campus in the most underserved part of Santa Cruz County.
In 2020, Monica became responsible for leading Encompass’s 400+ healthcare workforce and thousands of vulnerable clients through the COVID-19 pandemic. In the midst of this challenge, Monica and her young family were forced to evacuate during the CZU Lightning Complex Fire. Monica was fortunate to return home four weeks later, and she was left with a strong commitment to the long-term recovery of these dueling crises and ensuring our community’s preparedness for future disasters. She is a leader of efforts to strengthen the resiliency of the 5th District, including helping to coordinate Boulder Creek Vax and Boost, as well as the disaster response during the winter storms of 2023.
Monica is a strong advocate for equity and inclusion, and believes that diverse representation leads to better decision making. Throughout her professional and personal endeavors, she has been at the forefront of efforts to give voice to those who are frequently underrepresented.
Monica is an involved parent at San Lorenzo Valley Elementary, an SV/SLV Girl’s Soccer coach, Ironman triathlete, foster parent, and animal lover. She can frequently be found spending time with her children or playing softball in one of our county’s beautiful parks.