See the story of how co-founders Mary Campos and Wayne Ford came together over 30 years ago to start the Brown And Black Forum.
Ford’s rise from inner city Washington, D.C., to the Iowa Capitol has been chronicled by numerous media outlets. In 2001, award-winning journalist Dan Rather selected Ford’s unique life story for his best-selling book, The American Dream. Ford founded and served for 32 years as executive director of Urban Dreams, a nonprofit organization that advocates for improving life in poor and minority neighborhoods. When he was elected Iowa State Representative in 1996, he became only the tenth African-American in the state’s history to hold such a position and was the state’s longest serving black state legislator when he retired 14 years later.
Because of Iowa’s disproportionately high rate of black male incarceration, Ford authored landmark legislation in 2008, which made Iowa the first state in the nation to require a minority impact statement with respect to both new criminal laws and state contracts. This landmark legislation was profiled by The Sentencing Project of Washington, D.C., and The National Law Journal.
Ford has been inducted into numerous Halls of Fame including Rochester Community College’s Alumni Hall of Fame in 1994, Drake University’s Double-D award for athletics and civic involvement in 1995, Des Moines B’nai Brith Sports Hall of Fame in 2002, and the Iowa State African-American Hall of Fame in 2004. He has received Drake University’s Double-D award for athletics and civic involvement, and the Shining Star Award from the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, an affiliate of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL). He received the NBCSL Eagle Award for outstanding service to the organization in 2011 and he was appointed to Iowa’s Juvenile Justice Advisory Council and chair of its Disproportionate Minority Contact Committee in 2012. In 2017, he co-founded the Unemployment and Outreach Subcommittee for the State of Iowa Workforce Development Department. He also received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Drake University in 2018.
Currently, Ford serves as an Advisory Board Member for the Urban Institute’s Prison Research and Innovation Initiative and the Community Consultant for Broadlawns Medical Center.
Paula A. Martinez
Paula A. Martinez was born in Des Moines, IA. Martinez graduated from Lincoln High School in Des Moines, and received an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration from Black Hawk Community College from Moline, IL, an Associate Degree as a Paralegal from DMACC in Ankeny, IA, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from William Penn in Oskaloosa, IA. Martinez worked as a Judicial Assistant with the 5th Judicial District for the State of Iowa for 23 years.
She currently serve as 3rd District Vice Chair and serves on the Iowa Democratic State Central Committee. While living in Des Moines, IA, she served as Vice Chair for Polk County, Precinct Captain, Young Democrats, and Poll Worker. She also served Warren County as Co-Chair for the County, Affirmative Action Chair, Precinct Captain, County Convention Delegate, Caucus Chair and served on County Convention Committees. On the state-level, she’s served as the Latino Caucus Chair, Affirmative Action Chair, State Convention Delegate, and served on State Convention Committees.
In the community, she’s a proud member of the Brown and Black Forum, Board Member of the Asian-Latino Coalition, the League of United Latin American Council (LULAC), past member, the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI), officer of Iowa’s DAWN List, Board Member of Emerge Iowa, member and officer of AFSCME Iowa Council 61 and Local 3013, as well as a member of SCIFL, AFL-CIO. She proudly serve on the Central Iowa Workforce Development Board Region 11, and was a past member and chair of the State Latino Commission of Iowa.