New member brings diverse background to Courier board

Claremont Courier publisher Peter Weinberger has selected Valerie Martinez to join the paperÕs board of directors. ÒAn important Courier mission in 2023 is to increase local news readership, and Valerie brings a wealth of marketing and communication expertise to our board,Ó Weinberger said. Courier photo/Steven Felschundneff

by Steven Felschundneff |

Everything Claremont resident Valerie Martinez does, each new engagement or project she adds to her busy life, furthers her goal of promoting equity and social justice.

That commitment, combined with her finely honed business acumen, makes Martinez a perfect fit for the Claremont Courier’s board of directors, an appointment recently announced by the paper’s President and Publisher Peter Weinberger.

Martinez joins Weinberger and Jay Griffin, CEO, CMO and co-founder of the internet services company Culture Cube, to round out the current membership of the board.

Her tasks include helping guide Claremont’s local newspaper through its new path as a nonprofit enterprise.

“An important Courier mission in 2023 is to increase local news readership, and Valerie brings a wealth of marketing and communications expertise to our board,” Weinberger said. “Her business, VMA Communications, focuses on helping organizations increase community awareness. Needless to say, our goals to contribute to the community are aligned. And she has been doing that in Claremont for over 27 years. We are happy to welcome her to the Courier family.”

Her appointment began with a number of long conversations with Weinberger about the news industry and the future of local newspapers. Specifically, they discussed how important this hyper-local coverage is for cities like Claremont and its residents. Through those conversations Weinberger decided she would be a good fit for the board.

“I appreciate the opportunity to be a thought partner and figure out whatever I can to help him strengthen the business aspect of the Courier,” Martinez said. “I have been running a business doing community outreach and public affairs for 27 years and I think that is where he and I have had those interesting conversations about the business of journalism.”

Martinez brings both business and journalism knowledge to running an operation like the Courier. She graduated from the University of Southern California with dual bachelor’s degrees in journalism and political science. She started her career writing and producing editorials at KHJ-TV but quickly moved to a reporter job at the long gone Los Angeles Herald Examiner.

“Newspapers were my passion,” Martinez said.

From there she moved south to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, and by 1992 made another significant transition when she began working at the state legislature as the chief consultant to the California Latino Legislative Caucus.

In 1996 Martinez launched VMA Communications. Her first office was on her grandmother’s dining room table in Montebello. The business moved a handful of times after that, including into the Spring Street Center in Claremont, until it found its current home in a newly constructed Craftsman-style office on Oberlin Avenue in the Village.


Longtime local business owner Valerie Martinez has been appointed to the Claremont CourierÕs board of Directors. Courier photo/Steven Felschundneff


VMA Communications offers a range of communications services, including handling public affairs for school districts, cities, and water agencies. The work primarily involves “connecting communities with their government.”

The community outreach side of the business works with high-impact large infrastructure developments, ensuring clear communication with communities impacted by these projects through the environmental review processes and into the construction itself.

Her company has a contract with Delta Conveyance Design and Construction Authority, which has just completed its draft environmental impact report and public comment period. The project, when completed, will significantly increase the amount of water the state siphons off of the Sacramento River Delta into the State Water Project.

“It’s a great project,” Martinez said. “There has been a lot of great work to try [and] figure out how to create community benefits. And frankly, we need the water.”

Other clients include Metrolink, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and California High-Speed Rail.

“My other passion is high speed rail and I have been working on it since 2003,” Martinez said. “It’s a tough project. Any large construction in California is difficult because of the environmental components, because of [the California Environmental Quality Act] and because of the desire to take the time to get it right, and to address impacts to communities.”

Martinez moved to Claremont in 1996, where she raised two children, Antonio Ayala, 25, who is a software engineer in Los Angeles, and Isela Ayala, 22, a civil engineer in Boulder, Colorado. She also has four stepchildren, three of whom went through Claremont schools, and six grandchildren.

She loves hiking in the local mountains and spending time with her three dogs, a wire haired terrier/Jack Russell mix named Osito, a beagle named Bernie, and a golden retriever, Hamilton. She said Osito and Hamilton like to go on walks but Bernie prefers naps.

This summer she plans to take a hiking vacation to Glacier National Park in Montana.

She loves art and in her free time writes short stories and poetry, some of which has been published. She has written a few obituaries for friends, several of which have been published in the Courier.

“I am a true believer in equity and social justice, and I will say our community is focused on trying to get it right. And I like to think of myself as one of those people who’s trying to help our community get it right,” Martinez said.


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