Ms. Valerie D. Bell

Attorney and Civic Volunteer

Valerie D. Bell is an attorney and civic volunteer specializing in the not-for-profit administration and management of national, regional and community organizations and initiatives dedicated to ensuring equity in educational opportunity; improving race relations, diversity and inclusion; and fostering economic parity.  She has chosen to devote the entirety of her professional career, on a completely pro bono basis, to these and other public policy issues. 

Ms. Bell, is the Immediate Past Chair of the Board and CEO of the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation.  She currently serves on the boards of the National Network of Schools in Partnership, the National Council of the Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement of Washington University, the national boards of the Princeton Prize in Race Relations and The Steve Fund, and the St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council.  She is an appointed member of the Missouri History Museum Subdistrict Commission, having also served as the Commission’s Vice-Chair.  She is an elected member of the St. Louis Black Leadership Roundtable and the International Women’s Forum (Missouri).

Throughout her tenure in St. Louis, Ms. Bell has served the community in various capacities.  She was legal counsel and advisor to Washington University Chancellor Emeritus William Danforth in his role as Settlement Coordinator for the historic St. Louis school desegregation case, and remains on the task force overseeing implementation of the settlement agreement.  Ms. Bell is Past President of the boards of trustees of John Burroughs School and FOCUS St. Louis, and Past Secretary of the board of Parents as Teachers international organization.  She has also been a trustee or board member of Fontbonne University, the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, the Independent Schools Association of the Central States, the St. Louis Science Center, the Deaconess Foundation, the YWCA of Metropolitan St. Louis, Christian Brothers College High School, Grace Hill Settlement House, St. Louis Community College Foundation, and the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ-STL), among others. 

Ms. Bell is a recipient of a number of awards for her community efforts, including the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award from NCCJ; the 2019 Stellar Performer in Education Award from the St. Louis American Foundation; the R. Jerome Williams, Sr. Award for Leadership and Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion; the Levy Human Relations Award from AJC; the Woman of Achievement award for her work in building diversity in the St. Louis region; the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Foundation of Greater St. Louis; the Racial Justice Leader Award from the YWCA of Metropolitan St. Louis; the Woman of Distinction Award from the Professional Organization of Women; the Brotherhood-Sisterhood Award from NCCJ; the African American Citizen of the Year Award from the St. Louis Gateway Classic Foundation; the Most Valuable Volunteer Award from the St. Louis Business Journal and MasterCard International; and the Distinguished Community Service Award from the Princeton Club of St. Louis.

Ms. Bell is a graduate of Princeton University, where she majored in the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs (formerly the Woodrow Wilson School), and where she was named a David Lawrence Scholar by U.S. News & World Report Magazine.  She was the first female and the first person of color in the University’s 230-year history to be elected President of the Senior Class, and to lead the graduating class at Commencement.  At graduation, she was awarded the W. Sanderson Detwiler 1903 Prize and the Frederick Douglass Service Award. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Harvard Law School and her Master in Public Administration degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. She was formerly an attorney in the New York office of Chadbourne & Parke, and Senior Counsel at the New York State Urban Development Corporation.