Congratulations to Valerie Nicholson-Watson, CEO, Harvesters Community Food Network (GMLC Class of 2004) named to the @KCBizJournal’s “Women Who Mean Business”. Valerie is among 25 outstanding leaders who demonstrate just how resilient, strong and professional the women in the Kansas City community are. This year’s class was recognized at an event held on Friday, August 20th at the Overland Park Convention Center.

The attendees for Session III to be held in Kansas City September 15-17 will have a chance to meet Valerie as she shares her leadership journey. Following Valerie’s keynote, the cohort will hear from Joanna Sebelian, Harvester’s Chief Resource Officer (GMLC Class of 2009), Paula Pratt, Harvester’s Director of Community Engagement, (GMLC Class of 2010) and Jessica Kejr, Harvester’s Director of Programs (GMLC Class of 2018).     

The following was included in an August 20th Kansas City Business Journal article written by Traci Badalucco:

When Valerie Nicholson-Watson left home for the University of Missouri, she received a gift that would inspire her for life.  

Nicholson-Watson’s brother was driving her to college from their house in St. Louis. As they were getting ready to leave, she heard someone calling her name from down the street. It was an elderly woman, who had moved in a few years prior.  

When Nicholson-Watson ran down to greet the woman, she handed her $5 and wished her luck. The experience has stuck with Nicholson-Watson ever since. 

“That just spoke volumes to me because I felt like she knew that I was headed out for college, and she just wanted to make sure that I was inspired and to know she was rooting for me and to make some sort of contribution into a life-changing experience.”

The act of kindness sparked something in Nicholson-Watson to lead by example. 

“I thought that that was so symbolic for me. When people pour into you because they want to see you succeed, I think you are obligated to do the same thing.”

Nicholson-Watson has spent years pouring into others with her work at Harvesters and outside her job in the community and within her family. She lives by the motto of giving back and providing to others in need, a philosophy that has served her well.

“I have always believed that when you share your blessings, those blessings grow, and that is how I have tried to live my life and particularly how it relates to my relationship to others.”­

Valerie Nicholson-Watson

CEO, Harvesters

Inspiration: Her grandchildren. “It’s one thing seeing your own children grow, and you love them to death, but when your grandchildren are born, they open up a part of your heart you didn’t know you had.” 

Little-known fact: Her father nicknamed her “Mama” when she was a little girl due to her bossy nature, a trait she says came from trying to make her voice heard as the middle child.