The Virginia Governor’s Office today announced the appointment of Martha Abbott ’72, Allida M. Black and Leopoldo Martínez to the University of Mary Washington Board of Visitors. In addition, Edd Houck has been reappointed to a second term on the Board. The appointees will serve four-year terms, which expire June 30, 2022. They succeed Holly T. Cuellar ’89, Fred M. Rankin III and Carlos Del Toro.
Martha Abbott of Alexandria, Virginia, is executive director of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), where she spearheaded The Year of Languages national initiative in 2005. An educator for more than 30 years, she previously taught and coordinated language programs at all levels in Fairfax County Public Schools. In 2016, Abbott was appointed by President Barack Obama to the National Security Education Board, an initiative designed to build a broader and more qualified pool of U.S. citizens with foreign language and international skills.
She served as chair of the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages in 1999, president of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages in 2003 and member of numerous national task forces involving foreign language and new teacher standards, and performance guidelines. She also is a member of the steering committee for the National Assessment of Educational Progress Foreign Language Exam.
Since 2002, Abbott has served as chief advisor for the WGBH/Annenberg Video Library for Foreign Languages. She has held numerous leadership positions, including president of the Foreign Language Association of Virginia, chair of the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, director of the Virginia Governor’s Latin Academy and treasurer of the National Network for Early Language Learning.
Abbott recently received the Ovatio award for outstanding service from the Classical Association of the Atlantic States. She also is the recipient of the Robert Ludwig National Distinguished Leaders Award and the ACTFL Florence Steiner Award for Leadership in K-12 Foreign Language Education. She earned a B.A. degree in Spanish with a minor in Latin from UMW and a master’s in Spanish linguistics from Georgetown University.
Allida M. Black of Arlington, Virginia, is a distinguished scholar and human rights advocate who is managing director of the Allenswood Group, LLC, an organization founded to empower individuals and strengthen democracy through civic engagement, grassroots activism and education. She also holds the position as a research professor of history and international affairs at The George Washington University (GWU) in Washington, D.C., and is founding editor and chair of the editorial advisory board for the Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project, a research center at GWU designed to preserve, teach and apply Eleanor Roosevelt’s writing and discussions of human rights and democratic parties.
Black also served as executive editor of fdr4freedoms Digital Resource, an online education and advocacy program dedicated to former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms and managed the Women’s Political Participation Team for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. Black has written teachers’ guides for PBS documentaries and served as an advisor to other documentaries prepared for PBS, the History Channel, A&E, and the Discovery Channel. A prolific writer, she has authored seven books and multiple articles on women, politics and human rights policy.
Black is a trustee for both the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Foundation, and the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. In addition she is a board member for the Women’s Campaign School at Yale, the Kilimanjaro Community Clinic for Ophthalmology and the Educator’s Institution for Human Rights. She has served on numerous other boards, including the No Limits Foundation, the Sewall-Belmont House, National History Day, the National Coalition for History, the Roosevelt Institute and Honoring Eleanor Roosevelt: Save America’s Treasures Val-Kill Restoration Projects.
Black is recipient of the Millennium Medal from GWU, the 2001 Person of Vision Award from the Arlington County Commission on the Status of Women and the James A. Jordan Award for outstanding dedication and excellence in teaching from Penn State University, Harrisburg. In 2013, she received a “Best in Class” award for education and government with the Interactive Media Council and an Independent Publisher Book Award silver medal in U.S. history. She also was a 2010 finalist for the INDIE Award in Nonfiction and received a university medal from Roosevelt University. Black holds a doctorate in history from GWU, a bachelor’s degree in political science from Emory University and a certificate in international humanitarian law from the U.S. Institute of Peace. She also is the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from DePaul University.
Leopoldo J. Martínez of McLean, Virginia, is a Venezuelan-American business owner, international lawyer, author, social entrepreneur and former congressman. He has worked with large international law and accounting firms and has advised Fortune 500 companies, international businesses, nonprofit organizations and governments in more than 17 countries.
As a congressman in Venezuela, Martínez developed significant experience within the inter-American system, participating in complex negotiations and initiatives for political reconciliation in extremely polarized political environments.
He is the founder and principal of LMN Consulting LLC, a global strategic advisory and advocacy firm with extensive experience in U.S.-Spain-Latin America affairs, business and trade. He also founded and operates the Center for Democracy and Development in the Americas, an institution that provides a platform for leaders promoting progressive changes in the Americas.
Martínez currently serves as board chair of the Latino Victory Project and as a member of the Virginia Small Business Commission. A member of the Democratic National Committee, he also serves on the Virginia Democratic Party Steering Committee. In addition, Martínez is an advisor to the Group of 50 Foundation, a nonprofit initiative composed of business leaders who promote openness, economic and social progress. He earned a law degree in Venezuela and Master of Laws degrees from both Harvard Law School and University of Miami. Martínez also did graduate work in public policy and economics at Princeton University.
A longtime politician and educator, Edd Houck of Spotsylvania County represented the 17th District in the Virginia Senate from 1984 to 2012.
In addition to his political duties, Houck worked in the public school system for 34 years, including as a middle school science teacher, guidance counselor, assistant principal, and the director of student services for Fredericksburg City Public Schools. After his retirement from education in 2007, Houck served for six years as director of community and corporate programs for Mary Washington Healthcare.
He received a bachelor’s in education from Concord College (Athens, W.Va.), and a master’s in education from the University of Virginia.