Congrats Valerie Graczyk, 2020 Women of Achievement
Fond du Lac Area Women’s Fund has named Valerie Graczyk as the 2020 recipient of its Women of Achievement award. This award honors local women who, through visionary thinking, entrepreneurial spirit, leadership, or philanthropy, has made a significant difference in the quality of life in this community.
Valerie Thibaudeau Graczyk has committed her time, creativity and passion to the Fond du Lac community for more than 40 years. Valerie is known for her enthusiastic attitude and dedication to making lives better. As a visionary and initiator, she has led many community endeavors. Her collaborative leadership style pushes her to begin crucial conversations that lead to operational actions. Her work transcends her as a person and seeks to create a healthier community for all, which results in solutions to complex problems that no one person or entity can tackle alone.
Throughout Valerie’s 40-plus years as a professional in Fond du Lac, she has often been on the forefront of social ideas. From the core, Valerie values the lives and dignity of all people. She strives to be inclusive in her approach of welcoming people and creating lasting partnerships and friendships.
As an employee at St. Agnes Hospital for 40 years, Valerie was an “intrapreneur.” She started three different departments and laid the groundwork for others. As Director of the Health Resource Center, she emphasized women’s health issues. She also served as Volunteer Director and Executive Director of Development. Valerie chaired the St. Agnes Hospital Centennial year celebration, “100 Years of Caring.”
Valerie’s entrepreneurial spirit includes the launching of a travel company called Someday Travel. Since 2008, she and her husband Wayne have led tours to more than 30 countries. They are known as the “travel” couple making “Someday” travel dreams come true.
Valerie is also a writer who served as Communications Director for the Congregation of Sisters of St. Agnes for 18 years. In that capacity, she coauthored a book on the sisters in ministry in Nicaragua.
Valerie began the Samaritan Free Clinic House Raffle, which has generated more than $1 million for uninsured people’s healthcare needs in the last 20-plus years.
Valerie spearheaded the creation of a sexual assault center for Fond du Lac County called ASTOP. For more than 20 years, ASTOP has provided prevention, education, intervention and healing for survivors of abuse. Similarly, Valerie led the creation of St. Agnes Hospital’s domestic violence program, which recognized domestic violence as a health care issue. This spurred the creation of the Coalition Against Violence, bringing together law enforcement, nonprofits, educators and healthcare to work together to stop violence in our community.
Valerie chaired a communitywide health needs assessment for Fond du Lac County and worked with eight nonprofit agencies to create an Area Council for Healthier Communities to implement recommendations.
Valerie is one of the four founders of the Fond du Lac Area Women’s Fund and co-chaired the 10th Anniversary Celebration. She also led the creation of the HOPE Network, a Women’s Fund project serving women coming out of the shelter houses who needed mentoring. She chaired the creation of the book Women of Inspiration for the Women’s Fund celebrating the lives of local women.
Valerie was Director of Community Education and Travel Abroad at University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan, leading students, professors and community members to Europe annually. She also was Director of Community Education at UW-Fond du Lac and has taught as an ad hoc faculty member at Marian University, Fox Valley Technical College, Moraine Park Technical College and Silver Lake College.
Most recently Valerie interviewed 35 community leaders and learned about the gap for children living below the poverty level. Together with school principals, teachers, administrators, volunteers, donors and community support, she created a “Summer of Fun for All Children” in 2019. This five-week summer program provided supervised play, lunch each day, reading support, transportation to swim classes, a children’s play and a baseball game. More than 100 children participated.
Valerie is married to Wayne, her husband of 48 years. He is a retired Superintendent of Schools. Their children are: Eva Thibaudeau Graczyk, who lives in Houston, Texas, and is CEO of Temenos Community Development Corp., which serves the homeless, and Heidi Graczyk Anderson, of Eagan, Minnesota, who is a Learning & Development Senior Consultant for Wells Fargo Bank. Valerie and Wayne have eight grandchildren.
JOIN US IN CELEBRATING VALERIE
We are thrilled to present the Women of Achievement award to her at our Power of the Purse Reception on October 15, 2020 at The Hotel Retlaw.