LACDC Ambassador Program Manager and Tourism Professional of the Year, Liz Martineau, with her New Mexico Hospitality Association TopHAT Award. Courtesy photo
LACDC Ambassador Program Manager and Tourism Professional of the Year, Liz Martineau, accepts her New Mexico Hospitality Association TopHAT Award from Acting Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Tourism Department, Lancing Adams. Courtesy photo
BY LAUREN MCDANIEL
Los Alamos Commerce & Development Corporation
Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation’s (LACDC) Los Alamos Ambassador Program Manager Liz Martineau was recently honored as “Tourism Professional of the Year” at the 2023 TopHAT Gala hosted by the New Mexico Hospitality Association and presented by New Mexico True. The TopHat (Hospitality and Tourism) Awards celebrate those who have done exceptional work to elevate the tourism and lodging industry in New Mexico.
Los Alamos was also a TopHAT award finalist in several other categories, including Best New Experience for Los Alamos Atomicon (Mesa Public Library), Best Print Campaign (Los Alamos County Visitor Materials), and Most Innovative Campaign (Project Oppenheimer).
Martineau has long been a member of the Los Alamos community, enthusiastically contributing to and improving multiple organizations throughout the years. Currently managing the Los Alamos Ambassador Program, Martineau has previously worked as a Science Education Specialist for Los Alamos National Laboratory at the Bradbury Science Museum, one of Los Alamos’ key visitor attractions, for 12 years where she provided community outreach through the Science On Wheels program. She was the Executive Director of the Los Alamos Historical Society for three years and was responsible for the Los Alamos History Museum and all of its curated exhibits, tours and more. She also spent time with the Los Alamos Creative District, working to improve and advocate for the creative and cultural attractions of Los Alamos, where she first debuted “science-busking,” an initiative that she continues as a pop-up to this day. It not only entertains locals and visitors alike, providing a short STEM-related demo in the heart of the Los Alamos MainStreet and Creative District, but gives the community’s guests a memorable experience while visiting the town “where discoveries are made.”
Wearing her culture and history hat, Martineau was also instrumental in bringing and keeping Christopher Nolan and his Oppenheimer movie in Los Alamos, which has and will continue to impact the entire state’s tourism industry. In March 2022, Martineau, along with the County’s Film Liaison, spent countless hours working with the Gadget film production, including the location scout, art department, director and other crew to help ensure the historical accuracy of the movie later to be known as Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. Martineau was not only committed to ensuring the film’s historical accuracy, but that the production felt comfortable filming in Los Alamos; she touted the assets and historical structures they could use during the film production and was a critical advocate for why it was important to film in New Mexico at some real sets. Her role in the Oppenheimer production, in instilling confidence and support to the film crew, has ultimately helped lead to much of the positive feedback the County has since received about the ease of filming in New Mexico and the follow-on publicity and tourism traffic Los Alamos and New Mexico has since achieved.
Martineau has also been an integral contributor to Team Oppie as part of Project Oppenheimer in 2022-2023, attending meetings several times a month and often presenting the group with Oppenheimer trivia to kick things off and get participants excited. She was critical to helping generate trivia questions that were ultimately included on a local website in anticipation of the Oppenheimer film, whose QR code was linked on table tents distributed around the Los Alamos business community. She also fact-checked collateral related to Oppenheimer, such as the Oppenheimer Film Tour brochure, produced and printed by Los Alamos County. She has served as a willing interviewee and tour guide for Oppenheimer press inquiries as well, despite not serving an active role with the Los Alamos Historical Society after the spring of 2022.
Additionally, Martineau published the book, Los Alamos Architecture: Spaces and Places in May 2023, which combines history, architecture, and colorful photos to explore how Los Alamos grew into the town that it is today. She also runs Mathamuseum with her husband, Gordon. The Mathamuseum, a traveling math museum, provides programs at the intersections of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM). The programs are perfect for schools, museums, libraries and other educational facilities throughout New Mexico for both residents as well as visitors. Through Martineau’s leadership, Mathamuseum reached thousands of students and their families over 2022-2023, hosting or participating in events such as Math Day at Piñon Elementary School in White Rock, New Mexico Tech Trek in Socorro, Midway Elementary School Family Math Night in Polvadera, and in Los Alamos, an event at SALA Event Center, Los Alamos ScienceFest Discovery Day and the Los Alamos STEM Adult Play Crawl. She and her husband have traveled to countless other locations around the state over the past year, attending community festivals, conferences, and school programs from Taos to Hobbs, Abiquiu to Socorro.
LACDC Executive Director Lauren McDaniel said Martineau has played a key role in helping to move Los Alamos from “the secret city” to a valued historical, cultural and recreational asset in the state.
“Liz has an unwavering focus on highlighting the history and culture of our community, and most of all, being a welcoming, engaging ambassador of Los Alamos for our visitors, whether it’s through STEM, art, culture and film, or history,” added McDaniel.
Today, you can find Martineau managing the Los Alamos Ambassador Program, which fosters a knowledgeable welcoming group of ambassadors to effectively promote Los Alamos businesses and activities to tourists, visitors, and local residents, and improve the overall visitor experience. Launched in August 2022, Martineau designed the free program to help create a community of helpers and advocates.
The program’s goal is to consistently create positive visitor experiences. Topics include: Embracing the importance of tourism and its effect on your quality of life; Providing correct information about hours, costs, travel time, etc.; Giving accurate directions consistently; Helping visitors plan what to do or see based on the visitor’s interests; Offering additional suggestions for things to do or see along the way; Being open and welcoming with all visitors; Solving visitor problems to the visitor’s satisfaction; Recognizing how your actions affect the visitor’s entire experience.
If a local business or organization would like the full 1.5 hour training, a short 20-minute community-building activity, or even an “Ambassador Minute” at a meeting, please reach out to Martineau at email@example.com or visit https://losalamosdevelopment.com/ambassador-program/.
“This award was made possible through the support of the amazing Los Alamos community,” said Martineau. “Lauren McDaniel, Melanie Peña, and the whole Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation staff are always ready to jump in and help with projects, cheer each other on, and support innovative (sometimes crazy) ideas. Georgia Strickfaden has also been a role model and mentor to me for years. The Chamber of Commerce, Historical Society, JRO Memorial Committee, Los Alamos County…I can’t even begin to name all of the people behind this award! We live in an amazing place, but it is the community of people who truly make it special. I share this award with all of you!”
Longtime Los Alamos tour guide with Atomic City Van Tour, Georgia Strickfaden, was honored with the Tourism Professional of the Year in 2015.
About Los Alamos Commerce & Development Corporation (LACDC)
Los Alamos Commerce & Development Corporation (LACDC) is a private, not-for-profit economic and community development organization that manages the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce, Los Alamos MainStreet and Creative District, projectY cowork Los Alamos, Discover Los Alamos, Los Alamos Small Business Center, Los Alamos Research Park and the Lab-Embedded Entrepreneur Program (New Mexico LEEP). For more information, visit LosAlamosDevelopment.com.
LACDC and County staff attending the TopHAT Awards Gala, from left: Discover Los Alamos Director Melanie Peña, Los Alamos County Assistant Public Information Officer Leslie Bucklin, Gordon McDonough, LACDC Executive Director Lauren McDaniel, former Los Alamos County Marketing Specialist Kelly Stewart, Oppenheimer, LACDC Ambassador Program Manager and 2023 Tourism Professional of the Year Liz Martineau, Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce Director Ryn Herrmann, Los Alamos County Senior Librarian – Community Engagement Eva Jacobson, and Los Alamos County Librarian for Youth Services, Melissa Mackey. Courtesy photo