Ozzie Martinez, ’00, B.S. in Psychology – Crean College of Health Sciences
Ozzie Martinez, who graduated from Crean College with a degree in Psychology in 2000, has focused much of his career on serving as an advocate for cultural diversity and inclusion work and innovation in transformational care. Ozzie brings over 20 years of healthcare experience to his position as Chief Administrative Officer for Kaiser Permanente. Committed to continuous learning and application of diverse solutions which improve the health of Kaiser Permanente’s members and communities, Ozzie also invests in others by mentoring and developing future leaders. Since joining Kaiser, he has developed and implemented a Proactive Office Encounter program that has become foundational in both clinical operations and building excellence in preventative care across the nation. Ozzie continued his educational studies, obtaining a Master of Public Health degree from UCLA and completing the Executive Leadership Program at Harvard University. He is involved in several community-based organizations and was recently inducted into the Upsilon Phi Delta National Health Administration Honor Society with the mission of recognizing, rewarding and encouraging academic excellence in healthcare management and policy.
Q&A with Ozzie Martinez
We asked this year’s winners about their experiences at Chapman and what advice they have for current students.
Who was the most influential person for you at Chapman? Why?
Dr. Steven Schandler, professor of psychology and my mentor, was easily the most influential person during my college career. I worked with Dr. Schandler on behavioral health and addiction research at the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System during my last two years of college and after graduation.
I had always intended to work in health care and had planned to go to medical school after graduation — but that all changed thanks to my experience with Dr. Schandler. I found the health care delivery system fascinating. My perspective around public health shifted to thinking about how I could make a positive impact by working at the systems level to address barriers to care and the needs of the underserved.
Even more importantly, Dr. Schandler demonstrated so much confidence in me and my abilities. It helped me to believe in myself, and to push myself outside of my comfort zone.
If you could go back and experience one moment from your time at Chapman, what would it be? Is there anything that you would do differently?
I clearly recall graduation day with a tremendous sense of pride. Much of my family was there — and there would have been even more of us if we had more tickets!
As the son of Mexican immigrants and the first in my family to go to high school or college, that moment was a huge accomplishment for all of us. My grandfather, who was never one to show emotion, sat with tears in his eyes as I walked across the stage. While he doesn’t know how to read or write, his hard work, and the hard work of my parents, allowed me the opportunity to go to Chapman University. As a father now myself, I have an even greater appreciation of the sacrifices they made for my happiness and success.
What were the most challenging social issues in our country/world that you faced as a young college student? What was your perspective or how did you get involved? Have your opinions on these issues changed or stayed the same? Give an example…
I grew up without health insurance, and even as a student at Chapman my only coverage was through the university. As a child we never had a primary care doctor, so we utilized urgent care and the emergency department often. I saw firsthand how the fragmentation of our healthcare delivery system impacted my mother while I was growing up, and how a lack of adequate care impacted her health.
That experience drove my passion for health equity from an early age, leading me to volunteer at free clinics, Children’s Hospital Orange County, and to become certified to sign families up for health insurance. While we’ve come a long way, there’s still work to do to reduce health disparities, expand coverage and reduce costs. I’m proud of the way that we take care of the whole person at Kaiser Permanente — mind, body and spirit — and work to provide every patient with the care they need to stay healthy.
What do you wish you knew at the time of your graduation (about life, careers, family, best place for tacos, etc.) that you know now? What advice can you give to the students and/or recent graduates of today?
As the first in my family to go to college, I didn’t understand the power of an alumni network and I certainly didn’t take advantage of Chapman’s many accomplished alumni while I was a student. It’s only now, in hindsight, that I appreciate how valuable those connections are when you start your career. People are incredibly generous with their time—willing to meet for an informational interview, or to share their own educational and career journeys. I’d encourage current students and recent graduates to be bold and reach out. Those conversations can shape your career path in ways you may never imagine!
And if you’re looking for great tacos, Tacos Jalisco is the place to go.