National Wildlife Refuge System

Cynthia Martinez: Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System

Jessica Larson
Cynthia Martinez served as manager of Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex, NV, before coming to Washington, D.C. in 2010.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe announced the selection of Cynthia Martinez as the agency’s Chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Martinez, a 21-year veteran of the agency, has served as the Service’s deputy chief for the Refuge System since 2012.

As Chief, Martinez will lead the management of the world’s premier system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants. The Refuge System comprises more than 150 million acres and 563 units.  There is a national wildlife refuge in every state and U.S. territory.

“Cynthia is a great fit for this position,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “She posses a diversity of experience working within the Service and National Wildlife Refuge System. Cynthia also demonstrates the strong leadership and innovation the Service needs as we continue to introduce new generations of Americans to conservation.”

Martinez previously managed the Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Nevada – one of the largest wildlife refuge complexes in the contiguous United States. She has also served as an Assistant Field Supervisor working on endangered species issues and as a fish biologist. Within headquarters, Cynthia oversaw the development of the Conserving the Future initiative, the Service’s renewed vision for the growth and management of the Refuge System, and currently leads efforts on the Service’s Urban Wildlife Initiative.

Martinez began her career as a student trainee in the Service’s Arizona State Office in Phoenix, Arizona. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from New Mexico State University and a Masters of Science degree from the University of Arizona. Cynthia and her husband Kenny have a thirteen-year-old daughter named Keisha, and a ten-year-old son named Marcus.


Interview with Cynthia Martinez in Refuge Update January February 2012


Last updated: March 6, 2015