Valerie Sakimura is the executive director of Deans for Impact. Earlier in her career, Valerie worked for a national education nonprofit, at a private equity firm and for a management consulting firm. She also has experience working on education policy for a state government and at an education-focused philanthropic foundation. Valerie received her bachelor’s degree in social studies from Harvard University, her MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business, and her MPA from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

When/why did you start working in education?

I trained as a dancer my entire childhood, and started teaching ballet to younger kids while in high school. I absolutely loved seeing kids learn and loved seeing their confidence blossom. In college, in addition to tutoring and mentoring students, I spent a lot of time interviewing teachers and principals for my senior thesis. I came to appreciate both the magnitude of talent and abundance of heart that reside in schools alongside profound structural barriers.

Why were you excited to join Deans for Impact?

I believe that improving how we prepare teachers will have a butterfly effect in education, not only improving the experiences of students but also increasing the capacity of educators to make the changes they hope to see. I am inspired by the passion, courage, and conviction that our people and partners bring to this work and I am honored to be working with them.

Why do Deans for Impact’s guiding principles ring true for you?

Commitment to the use of data and demonstrable outcomes allows people to come together with intentionality around a common vision. Focusing on transparency enables a spirit of humble collaboration. I believe this combination of humility and intentionality can drive continuous learning and improvement in programs.

Who was your favorite teacher and why?

Mr. Teter was my sophomore- and senior-year English teacher as well as my speech and debate coach. He inspired a love of reading and writing in his students and found ways to raise up each of us in different ways. He cared deeply about not only our academic development but also our personal development as we began to articulate visions for the adult versions of ourselves.

What’s your favorite food truck and why?

My long-time favorite is Giovanni’s Aloha Shrimp Truck on the North Shore of Oahu, which is where I grew up.

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