AARP WI: Former United Way VP is new AARP Wisconsin state director

MADISON, WI – Martha Cranley of Madison has been hired to serve as the new State Director of AARP Wisconsin and begins serving in her new position this week, according to AARP’s Central Region Vice President Sam Wilson.

“A mission-driven leader, Martha has spent her career focused on removing barriers to success for Wisconsinites of all ages and abilities,” Wilson said. “She brings with her a creative, strategic, analytical, and solutions-oriented mindset coupled with years of experience in not-for-profit management, philanthropy, and government service.”

Cranley comes to AARP Wisconsin – a national organization that has over 807,000 members in Wisconsin alone – after serving as the Vice President of Community Impact for the United Way of Dane County. In that role she led the strategic investment of $22 million in financial resources to achieve community level change in the areas of education, income, and health with a goal of improving family well-being throughout the county.

“I’m excited to be joining a state and national leader in civic engagement in a time when common ground is sorely needed,” she said. “AARP members come from all backgrounds and points of view to a shared vision of communities where we all can thrive. What goal could be better!”

One of the reasons Cranley said she is excited to join AARP is that the organization advocates on issues that help people age with dignity and purpose. “AARP’s laser focus on lowering prescription drug costs, support for family caregivers, strengthening Social Security and Medicare, and engaging voters to get more involved in elections, make our communities better for all of us.”

During her tenure at United Way, Cranley also led the agency’s work in ending family homelessness. In this capacity, she has chaired the Dane County Continuum of Care Board of Directors as well as the strategic planning for a new community plan to end homelessness. She was instrumental in the founding of two investment funds designed to increase the creation of affordable housing in Dane County.

Cranley is also the former Director of the nationally recognized Kids Count project with Kids Forward, where she chaired the Annie E. Casey Kids Count Network Advisory Board, as well drew attention to the overall racial disparities in outcomes for people of color in Wisconsin and advocated for policy change.

In addition, she was the founding Executive Director of the Wisconsin Coalition of Independent Living Centers where she was instrumental in the creation of the independent living center’s nationally-recognized peer review model.

She has been a Legislative Policy Advisor in both the State Senate and Assembly and has written and presented on the state budget process, public policy advocacy, and issues affecting low-income communities.

Cranley and her husband, Larry Martin, who is CEO of the State Bar of Wisconsin, have three children. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History from St. Norbert College in DePere.