Valerie is a professional poet, educator, arts administrator and collaborative artist who descends from Pueblo, Dinè and Hispanic ancestors in the Southwest US. For the past fifteen years, she has worked with children, young adults, adults, teachers, and elders in a wide range of community engagement programs.
Her work is dedicated to transformational change in communities through collaboration, cooperation, and art.
During her 8 year tenure with Littleglobe (2006-2015)and now as Founding Director of Artful Life (2015-present), Valerie has been a Project Director and/or Collaborative Artist for a wide range of arts and social change projects: Stories of Route 66: The International District; TIASO Artist Co-Op; Women & Creativity; EKCO; Common Ground TOC, Littleglobe 3CE; Artist to Artist/Open Books; Lines & Circles; Lifesongs, Memorylines: Voces de Nuestras Jornadas, MICA Community Arts and Convening Project, Salve: Women on War & Warriorship, Santa Fe Bus Opera, and Sharing the Same Space.
Valerie is also the Director of History and Literary Arts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center where she directs a wide range of community programs for children, youth, adults and elders, including families.
President Barack Obama nominated Valerie for the National Council on the Arts in July 2016. Her nomination and many others were not taken up by the Senate in the months before the 2016 election. She received a 2014 Creative Bravos Award for "outstanding achievements in and exceptional contributions to Albuquerque's creative economy" and a 2009 Albuquerque Journal/Sage Magazine Award, "Twenty Women Who Have Made a Difference." She was a member of New Mexico’s Strategic Leadership Institute (SLI), a cohort of progressive leaders in civic policy, media, voter registration, community organizing, literacy, education, health and other fields.
Valerie is also an accomplished poet. Her work, "A Hundred Little Mouths" premiered as part of Susan Silton's "Whistling Project" at SITE Santa Fe on November 7, 2015. Her book-length poem, Each and Her (winner of the 2011 Arizona Book Award and Honorable Mention in the International Latino Book Awards) was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, the William Carlos William Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN Open Book Award, the Ron Ridenhour Prize and other awards. It is widely taught in college/university courses. Her first book of poetry, Absence, Luminescent (Four Way Books 1999 & 2010), won the Larry Levis Prize and a Greenwall Grant from the Academy of American Poets. Valerie was the Poet Laureate for the city of Santa Fe from 2008-2010. Learn more about Valerie's poetry, publishing and teaching career at www.valeriemartinez.net.
Valerie has a B.A. from Vassar College and an M.F.A. from The University of Arizona. She spent 22 years as a university/college professor while coordinating a wide range of community outreach programs. She finished her academic career at the College of Santa Fe as the Director of Interdisciplinary Studies and Associate Professor (tenured) of English. Valerie taught at the University of Arizona, Ursinus College, New Mexico Highlands University, University of New Mexico, College of Santa Fe, the Institute for American Indian Arts (IAIA) and in the rural schools of Swaziland. From August 2012 to May 2013 Valerie was a Visiting Associate Professor of English at the University of Miami teaching several courses, including "Poetry as a Form of Community."
Valerie was born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has lived in Albuquerque since 2005. In between she traveled widely (both nationally and internationally), lived and taught in Swaziland from 1993-1995, and resided in five U.S. states. Her work is guided by the tremendous wisdom and guidance of people and communities who she has known along the way.