Giving Back to Community

Sustainability in Action

Canonization is not one of Rob Martínez’s goals. Instead, Norfolk Southern’s vice president of business development strives to be the best that he can be while using his gifts, skills, and faith to serve others.
 

Canonization is not one of Rob Martínez’s goals. Instead, Norfolk Southern’s vice president of business development strives to be the best that he can be while using his gifts, skills, and faith to serve others.

“I’m not called to be Mother Theresa,” he said. “That’s beyond my ability, but I do know what I’m capable of as myself.”

Martínez and his wife, Cristina, have shown that they are capable of quite a bit. He serves on the boards of directors of the Virginia Arts Festival, the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Inc., St. Matthew’s School, and the McMahon Parater Foundation, which provides scholarships for children seeking a Catholic education in the Richmond, Va., diocese. A former college Spanish professor, Cristina serves on their church parish’s Respect Life Ministry and chairs the Parish Pastoral Council. In her efforts, Cristina seeks to promote appreciation for the inherent dignity of every human life. In recognition of their community service, the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, in conjunction with Catholic Charities of Eastern Virginia, presented the couple with the 2013 Bishop’s Humanitarian Award.

Norfolk Southern’s support and encouragement of volunteerism factors into Rob’s community involvement. “CEO Wick Moorman time and again encourages all of us to do what we can do to help those less fortunate,” he said. “We’re all expected to be active. This is a cornerstone of our corporate culture.”

Martínez and his wife are drawn to groups that work among the poor, locally and globally, and they have traveled to Argentina and Mexico to work with the Sisters of St. Ann, a community of nuns that assists the poor in Latin America, India, and Africa.

His family’s influence also contributed to his dedication to volunteerism. A native of Cuba, Martínez was almost 5 years old when his family fled the country after the communist revolution. In Cuba, his parents had been certified public accountants. In the United States, his father worked at a settlement house in New York that provided adult education and schooling for immigrants’ children, and initiated other services for the poor and the working class. His family lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Martínez said his parents worked hard to build a better future for their family. “We were never victims and were always in control of our own destiny,” he said. “It never was what we didn’t have. It was always what we had.”

Martínez and his wife have three adopted children. Javier, a recent graduate of George Mason University, was adopted from Mexico; Pilar, a student at Catholic University, was adopted domestically; Sebastian, who is in high school, is a native of Colombia. They have instilled the importance of community volunteerism in their children. “We turn it into a family thing,” Martínez said, “and the kids do it out of love.”