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Joe with a group of local Atlanta Students.
Joe and his family

Joe and his wife Larrie Del, with their children Marie and Daniel.

Joe and his brothers

Joe and his five brothers - clockwise from top left, Joe, Jim, Jack, Julian, Jeffrey, and Jere.

Joe receiving the Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam

Joe received the Bronze Star Medal for his service in Vietnam.

Joe as President of the Atlanta school board

Joe provided strong leadership on his local school board for twenty years.

Joe on the campaign trail

For decades, Joe has been widely recognized as one of Georgia's leading advocates for public education.

Joe and his grandson Gabriel

Joe and his grandson, Gabriel, enjoy their first fishing trip together.

Meet Joe

Joe Martin has dedicated his life to improving Georgia's schools.

A Georgia native, Joe is a business and civic leader, a decorated veteran, a trustee in his church, and a proud father and grandfather. He is best known, however, as a champion for our children and a staunch advocate for public education.

Joe grew up in Decatur and Atlanta as the oldest of six sons - Joe, Jim, Jack, Jere, Julian, and Jeffrey. Their parents instilled in Joe and his brothers a spirit of public service. Joe attended the City Schools of Decatur and graduated from the Atlanta Public Schools. He excelled in school, and he learned the value of humility as a reserve guard on the football team.

Joe won a merit scholarship to attend Vanderbilt University and graduated with honors. As a student leader, he gained valuable experience in getting others to work together for a common goal.

After college, Joe was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army and assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division. He was deployed to the Dominican Republic as part of the expeditionary force that brought peace to warring factions in that country.

He then served in Vietnam, where he worked for the central intelligence command. He was promoted to the rank of Captain and received the Bronze Star Medal for his service. As an intelligence officer, Joe saw first-hand the vital importance of accurate and timely information in making sound decisions.

After returning home, Joe met his future wife, Larrie Del, who was a teacher in the DeKalb County School System. They married in 1969 and moved to Boston. With the aid of the G.I. Bill, Joe attended the Harvard Business School, where he earned an M.B.A. in finance.

Joe then returned to Georgia and launched a successful business career that has centered on the development of major public-private real estate projects. He worked to promote economic development as President of the Atlanta Economic Development Corporation and later as President of Central Atlanta Progress. He then coordinated community improvements related to the 1996 Olympic Games.

Joe has been inducted into the Georgia State University Business Hall of Fame.

Through his experience in business, Joe learned how to plan complex projects, set and manage budgets wisely, and reduce costs while improving quality. He also came to understand the interaction between our schools and the larger community.

As a young parent and a leader in a neighborhood effort to improve the local schools, Joe ran for the Atlanta Board of Education in 1977. He was elected and went on to serve for twenty years, including a stint as President.

Joe provided the strong leadership that was crucial in guiding the system through a very difficult period. In the process, he gained deep insights into the challenges affecting schools in urban areas. He has been recognized by the National School Boards Association for distinguished service to public education.

Because of his commitment to education, Joe was appointed to three major state commissions seeking to improve education in Georgia and made significant contributions to the work of these groups.

Joe played a key role in writing the Quality Basic Education Act - often referred to as "QBE" - the landmark state law that establishes the framework for what the state should spend to provide a sound education to every student. In recent years, state leaders have played politics with the QBE criteria, doing grave damage to our schools in the process. Georgia needs a State School Superintendent who understands what has gone wrong with QBE and how to fix it.

Joe led the efforts to create what is now known as the Early Intervention Program for students who need extra help to progress on grade level, to expand the availability of English for Speakers of Other Languages, and to make other improvements in the support of local schools.

In 1998, Joe won the Democratic nomination for State School Superintendent and came close to unseating the incumbent.

Most recently, he has been the Executive Director of the Georgia School Funding Association, which works to improve the educational opportunities for all of Georgia's students. In this capacity, he has developed a deep knowledge about the varying needs of the schools in every part of Georgia.

Joe is a recognized authority on education in Georgia. In addition to speaking at state and national conferences on various subjects, he is frequent contributor to local publications and authored a comprehensive study in 2009 on the State's responsibility in education, entitled the “The Unfulfilled Promise to Georgia's Children.

Active in many community and charitable organizations, Joe is a long-time trustee of Trinity United Methodist Church in Atlanta and former President of the National Alumni Association of Vanderbilt University.

Joe and Larrie Del, who is President of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, have two children, Marie and Daniel, who are both graduates of the Atlanta Public Schools. Marie works for the Institute of Global Health at Vanderbilt and was recently selected as a Fulbright Scholar. Daniel is close to completing the doctoral program in economics at New York University.

Joe and Larrie Del's pride and joy is their grandson, Gabriel.

Recognized champion for our schools: Joe provided strong leadership on his local school board for twenty years. For decades, he has been one of Georgia's foremost advocates for public education.

Successful business and civic leader: Joe earned an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School as a student on the G.I. Bill and has been inducted into the Georgia State University Business Hall of Fame.

Decorated Vietnam veteran: Joe served in the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army and was awarded the Bronze Star Medal in Vietnam.

Proud father and grandfather: Joe and his wife Larrie Del, who have been married for 40 years, have two children and one grandchild.