2019 Enduring Advocate For Social Change Award: La Quita Martin

La Quita, or known by her friends and colleagues as “Q,” has been an active member of NCJW, Nashville Section for approximately 20 years. Throughout her tenure, she has served as the section’s president as well as vice president of advocacy. Although the current co-president and I have only been involved with our section for a few years, we cannot imagine the section without her. Her activism, passion, and drive to improve the lives of all women, children, and families come through every time she speaks.  

Not only is Q active within the Nashville Section, but she also serves as the Tennessee State Advocacy Chair with NCJW, National. In addition, she acts as a vital partner to organizations throughout the Nashville community — and the state – to promote NCJW’s mission and values. Her leadership skills, knowledge, and devotion to improving the lives of all women, children, and families are extremely admirable, and we cannot think of anyone else more deserving.

Q’s motto, especially when it comes to social change, is to SHOW UP. Be it at a local NCJW event, meeting with coalition partners, or in the legislative arena, Q continues to model for our members what it means to be an advocate representing the Jewish community. She is never hesitant to speak up for those who are most vulnerable in our society. 

Q has been instrumental in enacting many efforts to encourage section members to become more engaged in social issues. To this end, she formed a section advocacy committee which continues to grow to this day, and each year, she develops a plan of action to work with the committee to pass or defeat specific legislation. Q also keeps members informed about legislation through periodic email updates; these emails provide an overview of the bills being considered as well as a summary of the probable impact and how to reach representatives to voice concerns. In addition, in preparation for Tennessee’s annual Women’s Day on the Hill, Q develops advocacy trainings to educate members on important legislative issues.  

Q is fearless. The hardest times for her have been talking about the decision to terminate her pregnancy 21 years ago – yet she does it without hesitation. She has never backed down from explaining the pathway to her decision. Q is also family oriented and is never shy to ask her physician husband to accompany her to meetings to discuss healthcare issues!

Q is a Jew by choice who’s never shy to talk about her road to Judaism and how her life changed. She shares her daily mantra of Tikkun Olam and lives it every day when introducing herself as a representative of a faith-based organization.  

Q put NCJW on the map as a player in the Tennessee legislative arena. She’s continually asked to join boards and speak to coalition partners. Her latest discussions have been with multiple League of Women Voters groups in Nashville and surrounding counties on “Why Courts Matter.” She plans to continue speaking about this topic, representing NCJW, to educate local, state, and federal judges, and also to explain how legislative bodies and courts can work together.  Her talks are well received and lead to additional invitations.