Valarie Handy is an Innovation Center Analyst for USDA Rural Development in Washington DC. She has held a number of different positions throughout her nearly 15 year tenure with the agency that have included initiating, reviewing and processing funding applications associated with Single Family Housing, Multi-Family Housing, Business & Industry and Community Programs. Her most recent past position as the Statewide Community Development Specialist and Broadband Coordinator allowed her to focus on community engagement, facilitation and development plan implementation. She also served as the interim Statewide Public Affairs Director during the 2016 administration change. In her current role within the agency she is working with the Innovation Center’s Data Analytics Team to measure the value of existing partnerships and network building in rural communities. She is also providing her expertise as a translator (of sorts) between the professional researchers on the team and the general population of the agency staff and the communities they serve.
Valarie has a background in journalism and media relations and holds a Business Administration Bachelor’s Degree specializing in marketing, advertising and promotions from Davenport University. She has also obtained a certification in Sustainable Community Development from Duke University and is currently enrolled in courses to become a Certified Economic Developer (CEcD) and a Development Finance Certified Professional (DFCP). Valarie is well known for being a “chronic volunteer” and holds multiple roles with numerous organizations in the local Traverse City area including Chair of the Garfield Township Parks & Recreation Commission and Old Town Playhouse Venue Manager during the Traverse City Film Festival. She is an avid traveler and is truly dedicated to the future of rural communities.