Valerie began her professional career as a college/university professor and spent 23 years teaching literature and creative writing. She finished her career as Director of Interdisciplinary Studies at the College of Santa Fe in 2009. She taught at the University of Arizona, Ursinus College, New Mexico Highlands University, University of New Mexico, College of Santa Fe, University of Miami, and the Institute for American Indian Arts (IAIA).
Valerie entered the field of community arts in 2007. She became a core artist and Executive Director with Littleglobe (Santa Fe) and subsequently founded Artful Life (Albuquerque) which is dedicated to transforming communities through collaborative, community art. She has extensive experience large-scale arts and community engagement projects, working with artist teams (both adult and youth), community members, and partner organizations in the creation of neighborhood-based works of art.
Artful Life developed a model of arts-based community development that has been featured widely at conferences, trainings, and panel presentations for its innovation in the field of arts-based development particularly in communities of color. For this work she was nominated by President Barack Obama for the National Council on the Arts just before the 2016 presidential election.
Valerie is also an accomplished poet with five books of poetry, a book of translations (Uruguay's Delmira Agustini), and publication in dozens of literary journals and magazines. A forthcoming book-length poem, Count, will be published by the University of Arizona Press in 2021. Valerie's previous book-length poem, Each and Her (winner of the 2011 Arizona Book Award), was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, the William Carlos William Award, the National Book Critics Circle award, the PEN Open Book Award, the Ron Ridenhour Prize and was an honorable mention in the 2011 International Latino Book Awards. She was the Poet Laureate for the City of Santa Fe from 2008-2010.
Among other creative collaborations, Valerie is the founder of the EKCO Poets, co-coordinates Women & Creativity, co-founded the Albuquerque Poet Laureate Program, and serves on the Bernalillo County Arts Board. She has presented extensively at arts and literary conferences nationwide.
Valerie was the Director of History and Literary Arts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center from February, 2018, to July, 2021. There, she coordinated 2-4 history and/or literary exhibits per year, archives and special collections, a library and genealogy center, and over 20 history and literary arts programs.
Valerie Martinez has a B.A. from Vassar College and an M.F.A. from the University of Arizona. See her full curriculum vitae here.