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Issue date: October 13, 2000

Martha Maris

HP's Martha Maris named Athena recipient HP's Martha Maris named Athena recipient (October 13, 2000)

By Kate Wakerly

As a child growing up in Mississippi, Martha Maris knew she wanted to write and to work with communities.

"Looking back, after 19 years with Hewlett-Packard, I realize I have gotten to fulfill those dreams," she said.

Mountain View has been a beneficiary of Maris' dreams in a big way. A large contingent of her fellow HP representatives joined local school officials, business and civic leaders and friends on Tuesday as Maris was honored as the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce's 10th annual Athena Award recipient.

The award is presented each year to an outstanding woman for professional excellence in business and the community, and it celebrates the achievements of women in business and the professions.

Currently manager of HP's community action plan in Mountain View and Palo Alto, Maris also serves as the liaison to city officials and other agencies.

For 12 years, Maris managed employee communications for HP's international customer support business and its customer support Web site. Along with that role, she still found time for major community involvement.

"She combines a passion for her work with compassion for others, and has a genuine desire to make the world a better place," says her supervisor at HP, Carol Surrell, who nominated Maris for the honor with fellow HP employee John Hernandez.

Talking about her company's support for community service, Maris noted that "HP has been in business since 1939, and has been unwavering in its commitment to the community." The company employs 2,700 people in Mountain View, and it offers employees an hour a week of release time for community service.

"In the last 10 years, we moved toward a more formal community action plan," Maris said, a project that had her working with the Mountain View city manager's office and Mountain View School District Superintendent Trish Bubenik.

Maris said she and her colleagues got inspired about developing community volunteer opportunities after talking to Bubenik. That enthusiasm led to the creation of HP's ASSIST School Volunteer Program at Castro Elementary and to other programs, which include Project CAUSE. In 1993, HP created the Hands On Science Program, and it awarded a $90,000 grant to the Mountain View School District to enhance the science curriculum, Maris said.

Receiving her honors, Maris said, "This is a group award. I think of myself as an enabler, bringing about opportunities for us to participate in the community. And I accept the award on behalf of the many HP employees for their work in the community."

Among officials offering commendations to Maris, Mountain View Mayor Rosemary Stasek said, "People will often say, 'The things she does are priceless.' Well, I think we can put a price tag (on one of Maris' achievements), and that price tag is $1 million. Her tireless advocacy resulted in HP's contributing $1 million to the Silicon Valley Manufacturing Group's Housing Trust Fund," Stasek said.

The funds will be used for teachers who are first-time home buyers.

Maris was also cited for her years of service to the business community. She recently concluded a six-year term on the Chamber's board of directors, and she has been actively involved in the Chamber's Women in Business program and its Business-Education committee.

Also through Maris' efforts, HP is providing a scholarship each year to Leadership Mountain View to promote diversity in the classroom.


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