Martin “Marty” Rendon lives in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. After decades working in Washington, DC as a Congressional aide and later directing Congressional relations for UNICEF, Marty built a house in Rehoboth Beach in 2005 and became a permanent resident in 2018.

But Marty’s ties to the area go back to the late 1970s, when he became a regular visitor to the beach. He has owned property in Dewey Beach and Rehoboth Beach since 1985. As the saying goes, “He made a living in Washington and a life in Delaware.”

Growing up in Springfield, Ohio, Marty was attracted to live by the ocean and enjoy the natural beauty of Rehoboth and Dewey. That beauty was enhanced by the warmth and kindness of the people he met there. He discovered a place that celebrated diversity and emphasized friendly interactions among local citizens and visitors.

The year-round populations in Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach include many retirees like Marty who have found their true homes there. They are active, engaged, and deeply committed to make the area welcoming, hospitable, and equitable for everyone. They strive to maintain the natural beauty around them and retain the historic local charm and spirit that first attracted them.

Advancing Human and Civil Rights in Delaware

To do his part to give back to his community, Marty searched for activities to which he could apply his decades of experience. He was honored to be appointed by Governor John Carney in 2019 to be a Commissioner on the Delaware Human and Civil Rights Commission. With his extensive background in legislation, Marty was named Chair of the Commission’s Legislative Committee.

As Chair of the Legislative Committee, Marty has lent the Commission’s support to a variety of human and civil rights issues, and has worked on initiatives to fulfill the Commission’s mandate to “promote amicable relations” among the residents of Delaware. He has led the Commission’s support for Delaware legislation relating to issues such as the right-to-counsel for tenants, no-excuse absentee voting, Constitutional protection for the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities, prohibiting discrimination based on sources of income, a bill to protect the rights of those experiencing homelessness, reform of the State’s expungement law, alignment of the Delaware Equal Accommodations Law with Federal protections, legislation to address hate crimes, law enforcement disciplinary record transparency, and clarification of the State law banning discrimination based on religion in public accommodations.

He worked successfully with the Delaware Senate and House to pass a bipartisan bill to rename the State Human Relations Commission as the Delaware Human and Civil Rights Commission and the Division of Human Relations as the Division of Human and Civil Rights. The bill passed both chambers unanimously and was signed into law by Governor Carney on June 14, 2022.

Drawn to Public Service

Marty’s work in Delaware springs from his lifelong commitment to public service and to the advancement of human rights and the fulfillment of human needs.

He grew up in Springfield, Ohio, the grandson of immigrants from Mexico who settled in Texas. His grandfather, Alfredo Rendon, became an American citizen in 1934. Five of his children, including Marty’s father, Leandro Rendon, served in the United States Armed Forces.

Marty attended Springfield Catholic Central High School, where he was Valedictorian of his class. During those years, he was attracted to the call of public service and the need to address the challenges of the times in matters such as civil rights, securing peace, protecting the environment, and advancing justice for all citizens. This led him to the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. He spent his Junior Year at the University of Madrid and went on to get a Juris Doctor from the Georgetown Law Center.

A Career on Capitol Hill

Starting his Freshman Year at Georgetown, Marty began working part-time on Capitol Hill, securing his first job as a paid intern with Senator George McGovern (D-SD). After law school, he worked full-time as a Congressional aide over the course of two decades. Through those years, he served as Legislative Director to four Members of Congress and worked for eight years on the Associate Staff of the House Rules Committee. From the vantage of the Rules Committee, Marty was involved in the major legislation to be considered by the full House of Representatives and spent time as a staffer on the House Floor.

He capped his career on Capitol Hill as Staff Director of the House Select Committee on Hunger. He oversaw the drafting of the “Freedom from Want Act,” a blueprint to fight hunger in the United States and around the world. As Staff Director, he traveled with the legislators to work to address human needs in places ranging from the Mississippi Delta and Appalachia to refugee camps in Sudan and Ethiopia. While he was Staff Director, the Select Committee on Hunger received the 1992 Silver World Food Day Medal from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Throughout his years as a Congressional aide, Marty focused on humanitarian and human rights initiatives. He served as the principal House staff contact for Congressional Friends of Human Rights Monitors. He was called “the Congressional leader of East Timor efforts in the United States during the ‘long decade’ from 1979 to 1991.” Because of that work, he was invited to the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo in 1996 when two Timorese were honored.

Working to Save and Protect Children Around the World

After his years on Capitol Hill, Marty spent the next 25 years as Vice President for Public Policy and Advocacy for UNICEF USA. In running Congressional relations for UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), he succeeded in getting Congress to approve the funding requested by UNICEF every year. Under his leadership, UNICEF received over $2.9 billion in regular resource contributions from the U.S. Government for its programs to save and improve the lives of the world’s children.

He also advanced a wide range of policy initiatives on global issues affecting the survival and well-being of vulnerable children, including child and maternal health, clean water and sanitation, basic education, securing access to education for girls around the world, children caught in emergencies, child soldiers, child trafficking, child labor, violence against women and children, and rights for all children. Marty led UNICEF USA’s efforts in Washington to secure U.S. Government support for the UNICEF partnership with Rotary International to eradicate polio and the UNICEF partnership with Kiwanis International to eliminate iodine deficiency disorders and maternal and neonatal tetanus.

At the same time, he led UNICEF USA’s efforts to build a network of advocates across the country to fight to make children a U.S. foreign policy priority. A special focus of his work was to encourage young people to get involved in advocating for issues of concern to them. For his work to support and encourage civic engagement and advocacy among Key Club members across the country, Marty was given Honorary Membership in Key Club International at a ceremony during their International Convention.

“Room Enough For All”

Marty and his partner John Cianciosi have found the Rehoboth Beach area to be a place of welcome that encourages and promotes diversity. They have learned that “Rehoboth” truly means “room enough for all.”

To help preserve that spirit of welcome and acceptance for all, Marty has supported the work of Delaware Stonewall PAC throughout the years. He served on its Board from 2020 to 2022.

As a Commissioner on the Delaware Human and Civil Rights Commission, Marty has fought to make sure that the LGBTQ community is protected and that its rights are secured.

Service Rooted in Faith

A lifelong Roman Catholic, Marty is a parishioner at St. Edmond’s Catholic Church in Rehoboth Beach. He draws special inspiration from the life of St. Francis of Assisi.

The Franciscan approach to Christianity emphasizes peace, acceptance, dialogue, humility, and interacting with all in a spirit of love and understanding. Working to address the needs of others and valuing all of God’s creation are hallmarks of the Franciscans. Franciscans endeavor to promote justice in society and respect for the environment as God’s gift.

Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received – only what you have given: a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.

– St. Francis of Assisi