Valerie Conn

In her various roles at the Science Philanthropy Alliance (vice president, executive director, and now president), Valerie has been committed to growing the basic science philanthropy sector. As the second employee of the Alliance in 2015, Valerie helped to shape the vision and strategy of the organization which has concentrated on advising emerging philanthropists: influencing over $1 billion in new funds to basic science research in under five years. The Science Philanthropy Alliance is supported by more than 30 member foundations and organizations.

As president, Valerie continues to bring her 30 years of experience working with philanthropists and scientists to build the community of private funders to basic science research. Valerie has built a team of senior scientific advisors, philanthropy advisors, and early career PhD scientists to provide expert advice to philanthropists on how to support fundamental scientific research. Valerie is a recognized expert on science philanthropy and a frequent speaker to a variety of stakeholders, including philanthropists, university science leaders, and fundraising professionals.

During her decade as a development officer at the University of Chicago (2004-2013), Valerie led teams in the Physical Sciences Division, as well as university strategic initiatives, including developing and implementing the strategy for partnership development, resource development, marketing for the Giant Magellan Telescope, and the Computation Institute fundraising initiatives.

Prior to joining the Alliance, Valerie was vice president of strategy for the B612 Foundation from 2014-2015 where she worked with astronauts and scientists to protect Earth from asteroid impacts. Valerie began her career at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1989, after which she led a campaign for medical research at Children’s Memorial Hospital (now Lurie Children’s) in Chicago (1999 to 2003.)

Valerie serves on the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, is on the Strategic Advisory Council for India Alliance, and is a working group co-chair for the Healthy Brains Financing Initiative. She holds a bachelor of arts degree from Northwestern University, and has two adult children.