Five Questions with Kamaal Martin

Kamaal Martin joined Catalyst of San Diego & Imperial Counties in October of last year as the Vice President of Networks and Initiatives, where he focuses on program design and transformative partnerships across sectors. Prior to coming to Catalyst, Kamaal founded Art Power Equity, a San Diego-based social enterprise, and was recently appointed by the Mayor to the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture. He brings a deep passion for arts & culture, community development, finance, improving our local food system, and raising the quality of life throughout the San Diego/Tijuana region to Catalyst. Get to know Kamaal through his answers to the five questions below:


Fine Art and High Finance: Expert Advice on the Economics of Ownership, Edited by Clare McAndrew.

What is one surprising thing to know about you?

In college, I spent a number of Summers working as a wildland firefighter. I got to travel throughout a number of states west of the Rockies fighting forest fires, deepening my relationship with and appreciation for the natural world and spending time in parts of our wilderness very few others ever get the chance to visit.

Where is your favorite place to go in san diego or imperial counties and why?

I always take out-of-town visitors to Cabrillo Point, Mt. Soledad and Mt. Helix. Great chance to introduce the variety of terrain here in San Diego and give folks an appreciation for how large the county is. I often use all of the above as a place to decompress and refresh my thinking.

What is your favorite part about working at Catalyst?

My favorite part about working at Catalyst is the opportunity to play a role in manufacturing “space and time” for people and communities. I believe that one of the most powerful things philanthropy can accomplish is provide folks doing vital work in our communities the trust and resources to think, reflect and organize without burdensome application processes, onerous reporting requirements and assumptions about “outcomes.” The most significant innovations and interventions don’t come from government, institutions of higher learning or policy makers etc. They come from the most vulnerable and marginalized people, who are also typically the furthest away from capital and access to traditional power structures.

If you had $5 million to invest in our region, where would it go?

I’d like to see that investment made into San Diego and Imperial Counties’ creative economy. With a specific focus on BIPOC artists, creatives and cultural producers. I think there is tremendous underinvestment in the arts and its intersections and greater commitment and investment over time can have an enormous positive impact on multiple fronts.