Leyla Martinez

President/Founder of the Beyond the Box Initiative

Leyla Martinez is a first-generation student at Columbia’s School of General Studies, where she is a senior majoring in Human Rights. She is also the President/Founder of the Beyond the Box Initiative at Columbia University (BTB), which is a student organization for current and prospective students who have been directly or indirectly impacted by mass incarceration.

Ms. Martinez is also a criminal justice reform advocate and a founding member of the National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls (National Council). As a member of the National Council, Leyla has traveled to several different states to speak to Law School students about the effects of incarceration on women, children and communities. She has also been invited to speak on panel discussions at The White House, Google, UCLA, Columbia University and more.

Leyla is a member of the first Justice in Education (JIE) cohort and the first JIE Scholar to be accepted into Columbia University. She is a Program for Academic Leadership and Service Scholar, Gilman Scholar, Joey O’Loughlin Scholar, Mother’s Day Scholar, Women’s Forum Education Fund Fellow, Beyond the Bars Fellow, Earth Institute Center for Environmental Sustainability Fellow and Women’s Independence Scholar.

Leyla is a 2018 Soros Justice Fellow working to create a coalition of Latinas that can help shape public attitudes toward their experiences with the criminal justice system.