Yumari L. Martinez, was recently tabbed the new board chair of Exalt, a nonprofit that primarily services the Bronx.
Exalt helps youths who were arrested, have an open court case or are on probation. Additionally, it provides financial literacy services, assists with the college process and tries to bridge the digital divide by distributing laptops.
An active member of the Exalt board since 2018, Martinez understands the complexities of the issues faced by the students Exalt serves and has dedicated his career to addressing the racial injustices and inequalities that have been ingrained in our current criminal justice system. Martinez succeeds Lizzie Elston, who has served as chair since 2017.
“I am honored to lead Exalt’s talented board and look forward to working with Gisele Castro, our executive director, as we grow and expand the influence of this transformative organization throughout the five boroughs of New York City,” Martinez said. “Exalt is truly a one-of-a-kind organization that is dedicated to helping youth, and in particular youth of color, across New York City thrive through a rigorous curriculum that focuses on the effect of the school-to-prison pipeline and brings internship opportunities that build a positive, constructive future and a viable path for economic advancement.”
In addition to his new role as chair of the board, Martinez is also the co-director of the Youth Justice Initiatives at the Columbia Justice Lab, at Columbia University.
Martinez is also a consultant for the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Previously, Martinez was the associate commissioner for the New York City Administration for Children’s Services – Division for Youth and Family Justice. Martinez also served as the associate director of the Center on Youth Justice at the Vera Institute of Justice and was a Clinical Teaching Fellow at New York University School of Law, co-teaching the Offender Reentry Clinic.
Martinez began his career, representing death penalty clients at the Equal Justice Initiative of Alabama. He is a graduate from New York University’s Law School.
“Exalt is extremely fortunate to have Yumari’s leadership as Board Chair, and I look forward to working together with him as we continue to address the needs of the youth we serve,” Castro said.“Yumari’s extensive experience in addressing the inequalities embedded in our current criminal justice and educational systems will greatly assist our organization in initiating change while preparing our students for a lifetime of success.”
Since its inception, Exalt has consistently achieved low recidivism rates, vacated and reduced/fairer sentences, and increased school engagement for court-involved youth. The rigorous program model enables youth to make profound behavior changes that are shared with the courts to demonstrate compliance and meaningful growth.