Valerie’s Areas of Expertise

Valerie Holton is the executive editor of the Metropolitan Universities journal, published by the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities. Valerie was the inaugural Director for Community-Engaged Research at Virginia Commonwealth University, one of the nation’s largest public, urban research institutions. She has worked extensively on the intersection of housing, homelessness, poverty, mental health and gender. Valerie serves as a board member for, worked within and provided technical assistance to human service and state organizations in the areas of strategic planning and non-profit board development, as well as program planning, development and evaluation.

Valerie’s experience with universities, non-profit organizations, and state agencies enables her to provide expert guidance in:

Engaged and Anchor Missions

Colleges and universities are integrally connected to their communities. Increasingly, they seek to leverage their economic, cultural, human and social capital to positively impact individuals, families and organizations within those communities. This intentional alignment of their mission and resources to build community wealth is critical to success. Engaged and anchor missions help the institution to:

  • Align institutional resources with community-identified needs and opportunities
  • Develop engaged citizens
  • Build community wealth
  • Prepare the workforce
  • Build and maintain rapport with community members and organizations
  • Improve learning experiences and outcomes
  • Enhance research and creative activity
  • Attract and retain high quality faculty, staff and students

Valerie has led and contributed to institutional strategic planning, initiatives and infrastructure design that deepen and demonstrate higher education’s public mission.

Community-Engaged Research

Community-engaged research (CEnR) fosters the involvement of community partners in research design, conduct and dissemination. CEnR can enhance the quality of research and translation of findings into practice. It helps institutions and organizations to:

  • Respond to community needs
  • Enhance mutual capacity through stronger partnerships
  • Attract and blend resources from diverse stakeholders
  • Increase opportunities to translate research into action

Valerie has worked with and in higher education and community-based organizations to develop strategies for promoting community-engaged research.

Data Infrastructure

Enterprise data help to demonstrate the scope and impact of engagement and anchor efforts. This helps the institutions to:

  • Understand and tell their story
  • Assess efforts to advance their engaged and anchor missions
  • Improve the quality of their partnerships
  • Develop policies and practices that enhance partnerships (e.g., risk management, resource allocation)
  • Create and manage data repositories to encourage networking and collaboration
  • Apply for national awards and recognitions (e.g., Carnegie Foundation’s Community Engagement Elective Classification)

Valerie has experience in developing collaborations and leveraging internal data to track and assess universities’ engagement with and impact on communities.

Learn more about the solutions that Valerie can provide for your organization.