Valerie has worked in advocacy, international development, gender, and human rights for more than 35 years. She has collaborated with grassroots organizations, social movements, NGOs, and international agencies as an organizer, advocate, popular educator, evaluator, and researcher. As a founder and champion of the organization since JASS’ first days, Valerie continues to guide and inspire the ever-expanding JASS community.
From coordinating a national human rights coalition dedicated to ending US military support to Central America in the mid-1980s, Valerie went on to help organize and direct a US campaign on behalf of children’s rights in the 1990s. A leader of US Congressional and media delegations to key foreign policy regions, she has served as an advisor to House members, their staffs as well as journalists and documentary producers. Over the past 20 years, she has been policy advocacy director at Oxfam America, director of policy and exchange programs at the Institute for Development Research, and advisor and associate of a wide variety of organizations including the Global Women in Politics Program, Women, Law and Development International, ActionAid International, the Highlander Center, and the Participation, Power and Social Change Group at the Institute of Development Studies. She has also served as a board member of numerous NGOs supporting women’s economic and political empowerment and the advancement of social movements around the world. She has facilitated strategic planning, participatory research, evaluation, and curriculum development processes with a range of organizations, and teaches an online course on human rights advocacy.
Drawing on her vast professional background and a doctorate in adult education, Valerie has published numerous articles and books on advocacy, development, women’s rights strategies, education, evaluation, and politics. Her rich experiences, particularly in Latin America, along with her analytic and facilitation skills, boundless and sunny energy, and big heart, have woven a strong and indelible thread through JASS.
Articles and Publications
Nicaragua 1980: The Battle of the ABCs (with Fernando Cardenal), Harvard Educational Review – 2010
Rights-Based Development: The Challenge of Change and Power for Development NGOs, ESRC Global Poverty Research Group – 2009
A New Weave of People, Power and Politics (with Lisa VeneKlasen), Practical Action Publishing – 2002, 2007
Rights-based approaches and beyond: challenges of linking rights and participation, IDS Working Paper 235, IDS – December 2004
Critical Webs of Power and Change, ActionAid International – 2005
NGO and Grassroots Policy Influence: What is Success, IDR Working Papers – 1994
Between Struggle and Hope: The Nicaraguan Literacy Crusade, Westview Press – 1985
Recent Blog Posts
The Long Haul
Tripping Over Inequality
A Walk Down Vilakazi Street
Fanning the Flames of Feminist Activism in Zambia
What’s in a Partnership?