Sarah Martin

Executive director, Delray Beach Marketing Cooperative

Background: Martin’s not a real Florida girl, but you’d never guess that from her proud sentiments about Delray Beach. A native of Jonesboro, Ark., Martin, 32, left after high school to earn a fine arts degree from Florida Atlantic University. Her first job was with the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency, working on public art. She left town for a while, branching off on her own in Miami, but she returned to public work in Delray in 2006. Since taking the lead of the marketing cooperative two years ago, Martin has done nothing but put Delray on the map.

How she is making a difference: For starters, Martin’s ideas are just plain fun, and she can draw a crowd for everything from a concert to a cocktail party. Wanna spruce up the annual Christmas tree lighting? Then bring in Santa via helicopter. Wanna spiff up a beach party? Shoot off some fireworks. So when Delray found itself in the finals for the title of “Most Fun Small Town in America” (Spoiler alert: They won!), Martin and her team dreamed up some truly fantastical fun times to woo the judges.

First snorkeling and sailing, followed by a Jet Ski ride. Then a massage and back to their rooms at the historic Seagate Hotel. But the real feather in the cap was a road rally, concocted by Martin and her team, that took judges all over town—to parks and beaches and a few hidden spots—with townsfolk standing along the way, cheering, yelling great things about Delray Beach. Hmmm. Wasn’t that a bit like bribery? Martin laughs at the notion. “We were just showing off how fabulous our community was,” she says.

What the future holds: Martin wants to offer more pop with their smaller events and embrace the notion that not every successful city party has to create a traffic jam. “We don’t always necessarily have to draw 12,000 people,” she says, “but we want to draw notoriety.” So far, with her at the helm, that hasn’t been a problem.