Valerie Bland, Senior Manager of Professional Programs, started her career in education as a fourth grade teacher and to her surprise; she discovered she enjoyed curriculum development and instructional design much more than actual teaching. As a result, Valerie transferred her career to adult learners in a corporate learning and development environment where she created and enhanced existing programs in addition to performing project management functions for new initiatives for a mid-size company. Valerie really enjoyed the challenge of working in a new environment on topics completely unfamiliar to her while enhancing her pedagogy for adult learners.
In 2012, Valerie moved to Chicago where she continued to work with adult learners but now they were distant learners within associations and societies. Valerie spent three years as the Manager of Education with the American Hospital Association (AHA) where she strengthened her knowledge and pedagogy relating to performance excellence, change management and strategic planning techniques. Valerie also created a variety of new learning techniques including eLearning, on-demand webinars, interactive conference sessions, videos, and knowledge centers.
Valerie began working for SWE in January 2015 as the Manager of Instructional Design. She is responsible for program developments including the Academic Leadership for Women in Engineering (ALWE), SWE’s leadership competency model and assessment, diversity and improvement initiatives, the SWE Advance app, and general administration of the Advance Learning Center. Valerie also enjoys sharing her passion for instructional design while working with the curriculum committee, the leadership coaching committee (LCC) and with the women in academia (WIA) to assist them in reaching their performance excellence goals.
Fun facts about Valerie
I spend as much time as I can with my family and friends. I also follow the Chicago Cubs, listen to music and talk radio shows, attend cultural activities, volunteer, explore the city, work jigsaw puzzles, etc. I would love to start each day by hearing If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out by Yusuf Islam, formally known as Cat Stevens because it is a simple and cheerful reminder of having the choice to either make the most, or make the worst, out of any situation.
Where do you live…did you grow up in the Chicagoland area?
I’ve lived in Chicago since 2012 and grew up in a small town near Springfield, IL.
What is the best piece of professional advice you’ve received?
Learn to embrace change because there are always areas of improvement.
Favorite band or type of music?
Favorite TV show?
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Harold and Maude
Cubs or Sox?
Go Cubs Go!
What is your favorite place to go or area in Chicago?
Printers Row because it represents the past and present and the architectural detail from the late nineteenth century is inspiring.
If you could sum up SWE in one word, what would it be?
What is your favorite thing about your job?
The feeling of having a new program implemented successfully and seeing members engaged in the learning process is one of the many reasons I love my job.