Maria Martinez Sanchez was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She attended New Mexico State University, where she received a Bachelor’s of Social Work and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Government. After college, Maria worked as a licensed social worker before attending the University of New Mexico School of Law.
During law school, Maria worked at Enlace Comunitario, a non-profit in Albuquerque that focuses on decreasing gender inequity and intimate partner violence in the Latinx community. She started her legal career at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, where she worked to improve the working conditions of New Mexico’s agricultural workers. She was part of the legal team that successfully challenged New Mexico’s antiquated law that excluded agricultural work from the protections of workers’ compensation, changing that law for the better for all farm, dairy, and ranch workers in the state. She joined the ACLU of New Mexico in 2008 and has litigated a wide range of civil and constitutional rights cases.
Maria is on the board of the Center of Southwest Culture and is a former ten-year member and past president of the board of Encuentro, an Albuquerque-based non-profit that engages with Latinx immigrants to build skills for economic and social justice.