Rep. Joelle Martin, NH-ME LEND graduate, was recently honored with the New Hampshire Legislator of the Year award by New Futures, New Hampshire's leading health policy, and advocacy organization. After working for a decade as an executive in publishing, Martin's focus shifted to education and advocacy. As her daughter, who has a life-threatening food allergy, entered preschool, she began to educate her family and school community about severe food allergies. Soon after, she developed an educational program about life-threatening allergies for teachers and staff. "Every individual should be honored for who they are and given the appropriate support, services, and opportunities to reach their full potential," said Martin. Her passion for helping children with health, behavioral, and emotional challenges fueled her interest in extending her work beyond the classroom and in the fall of 2014, Martin began the NH-ME LEND program. "The LEND program was life-changing," shared Martin, "[it] reshaped not only my perspective on policy and advocacy, but also my career path. Through these experiences, I gained invaluable insights on how policy drives change at the organizational, local, state and federal levels. I've always enjoyed working collaboratively; the collaborative, interdisciplinary approach in LEND was powerful and inspiring.

Empowered by her new experiences, Martin engaged in a community organizing effort in the early childhood community in her hometown of Milford. Knowing she could do more to serve her community, Martin decided to run for office and in November of 2016, she was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives. In her first term, she served on the House Ways & Means Committee and the Steering Committee of the Children's Caucus. To broaden her perspectives of state legislatures and instill a clear understanding of her responsibility as custodian of the public's trust, Martin took the State Legislative Leaders Foundation's Emerging Leaders Program, a rigorous four-day leadership class designed for promising legislators. Over the next year, Martin worked to secure state funding for Medicaid Home Visiting and Family Resource Centers, among other resources and led the charge on other critical children's behavioral health reforms. In October of 2019, New Futures honored Martin with its Legislator of the Year award for her dedication to improving the lives of Granite State children and families. "Rep. Martin is a reliable and dedicated legislator who prioritizes the well-being of all Granite Staters," said Michele Merritt, CEO and President of New Futures. "Her strong collaborative and bipartisan approach is essential for meaningful policy change to improve the health and wellness of New Hampshire." "It is truly an honor to receive this award," Martin said, "We know that policy advancements require the collaboration of many. Thank you to the New Futures team and my legislative colleagues for their dedication to the health and well-being of Granite Staters. I'm grateful for the work we do to build a New Hampshire where all of our children and citizens can thrive." Martin continues to work collaboratively to pursue and develop creative solutions and smart bi-partisan policies to foster community well-being, ensure public safety, and economic prosperity. joelle4milford.com