Valerie Nicholson-Watson is the President and CEO of Harvesters—The Community Food Network, the regional Feeding America food bank serving 26 counties in northwestern Missouri and northeastern Kansas. Valerie joined Harvesters in this capacity in 2013, but had previously worked as Harvesters’ director of community services, responsible for the food bank’s advocacy, communications, nutrition services and volunteer program from 1999-2004. She served on the Harvesters’ board of directors from 2007 to 2013.
Prior to joining Harvesters, Valerie was a leader in the local nonprofit community as the president and chief executive officer of the Niles Home for Children. The Niles Home provides residential and day services for children ages 6-17, who have been traumatized by abuse, neglect or abandonment. The agency in 2008 was one of two agencies nationwide awarded the “Innovative Practices” Award from the Council on Accreditation (COA) for its Hip Health initiative.
She also has held communications positions at Gateway, Inc., and the Kansas City, Mo., School District and worked as a journalist for the Kansas City Globe and The Kansas City Call.
Valerie currently serves as treasurer of the board for Nonprofit Connect. She is a board member and past chairperson for Kansas City Metro CARES Mentoring Movement, part of a national effort to increase the number of African-American mentors. She is also a member of the US Bank Advisory Board. Previously, she served as treasurer of the Missouri Coalition of Children’s Agencies (MCCA), served on the board of the Guadalupe Centers, Inc., and has been active with the Heart of America United Way Campaign. In 2015, she was recognized as a “Black Woman of Distinction” from Friends of Yates, Inc. She received the Nefertiti Award from the Societas Docta, Incorporated in 2014. Valerie was recognized for her volunteer service with a 2013 President’s Volunteer Service Award, and by the 100 Black Men of Kansas City with their 2012 Health and Wellness Award. She was named by the Kansas City Globe as one of the 100 Most Influential African-Americans in Greater Kansas City.
Nicholson-Watson has a Bachelor of Journalism degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and an MBA from Webster University. She lives in Lee’s Summit, Mo., with her husband, Mark Watson. They have two sons and are the proud grandparents of three grandsons.