Staff Spotlight: Lisa Martin

UCLA Administration is pleased to announce the appointment of Lisa Martin as executive director of UCLA’s Office of Emergency Management (OEM), a unit of Environment, Health & Safety.

Lisa has long been part of the UC family. She is a first-generation graduate from UC Riverside, having earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and a masters in organizational management. Lisa has more than 20 years of experience working in emergency management, most recently as the director of the Office of Emergency Management at UC Riverside, where she was the only certified planner in the UC system at the time she was hired. Additionally, Lisa has served as the Chair of the UC Emergency Management Council and is often called upon to share her expertise and collaborate in university-wide planning initiatives.

Ironically, Lisa fell into emergency management by accident. Years ago, she was working for a congressman in Washington, D.C. when a train derailment with toxic fumes presented an unanticipated opportunity for Lisa to flex her management skills. She rose to the challenge. At the time, emergency management was a fledgling industry, and the experience helped to shift Lisa’s moral compass in a new direction. Lisa went on to graduate from the FEMA emergency program and has since worked in emergency management and continuity planning for several companies, including Capital Group Co., Downey Savings & Loan, U.S. Bank & UC Riverside.

Lisa Martin with her husband.
Lisa with her husband.

Lisa loves what she does and has a real passion for emergency management and for the University of California system. She says that the emergency management community is small and close-knit; nothing is proprietary as everyone shares common goals to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergency incidents, and aspires to see UC as the leader in emergency management for institutions of higher education.

Lisa manages emergencies with grace and maintains a positive attitude, no matter how difficult the challenge-qualities that were hard won through difficult circumstances. Lisa’s eldest son had serious health issues when he was young and Lisa credits those challenges and struggles with teaching her that “Even the bad days aren’t the worst day.” Lisa relies upon her very strong faith in an emergency and humbly recognizes that “I can only do what I’m able to do. Impact people on their worst day–bring a little hope, a little guidance.” Lisa’s advice in an emergency is to keep your cool and be flexible.  "Times are hard. No matter what we’re going through, there are those worse off and we’ll get through this together."

Lisa and her husband, a teacher, share three children: her eldest son is a senior in college, the younger son a senior in high school, and her daughter is a freshman in high school. In her spare time, Lisa has coached sports and tutored athletes on her husband’s teams.

Lisa Martin with her eldest son.


Lisa Martin with her second son.


Lisa Martin with her daughter.
Lisa Martin, Executive Director of Emergency Management
Lisa Martin
Executive Director, Office of Emergency Management
Environment, Health & Safety


What made you interested in working at UCLA?

UCLA has such a rich tradition and positive hope for the future, to build something better, discover something new, create what has never been thought of before. It’s a foundational pillar of not only academic excellence in Southern California but the UC system as well and I really wanted to be part of preserving and protecting those treasures and traditions during an emergency.  

Did anything surprise you when you first became a UCLA employee?

Yes. The formality of everyone and their introductions in the beginning until they realize I’ve been with the UC system for over 11 years. Then it’s like I’m part of the family because we may know some of the same people, issues or opportunities. It makes me smile and feel so welcomed, I truly appreciate it.

What is your vision for the UCLA Office of Emergency Management?

Often when Emergency Management is involved, someone’s not having a good day. We take what is for some the worst day ever and try to help get things back on track. In serving our diverse campus community we want to make things easier and get you back to what you need to do, focused on learning, teaching, research, and community service, focus on what’s essential. My hope is for OEM to help minimize those impacts and emergencies so we can recover quickly and our Bruin community can continue pursuing our core mission and our institutional excellence.