Valda Boyd Ford, MPH, MS, RN
Valda Boyd Ford is the CEO of the Center for Human Diversity, a non-profit agency dedicated to improving communication between and across diverse groups. Over the past thirty years, she has worked in more than 50 countries with CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, tribal chiefs, Afghani teachers and Buddhist monks, health care professionals and law enforcers to improve health, decrease negative outcomes, enhance leadership skills, and decrease vulnerability.
From her early days in Saudi Arabia where she worked with multi-lingual and multi-national staff from 33 nations to deliver one standard of care to her appointment to the Council of Public Representatives of the National Institutes of Health Valda has been intimately involved with education and policy development. Her knowledge allows her to work with the smallest of community groups to the most complex global agencies. Over the years she has gone from a staff nurse to Assistant Director of Nursing, from an Assistant Professor to Director of Community and Multicultural Affairs and from a contractor to a CEO.
Her career has taken Valda to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Netherlands and eventually the Caribbean, where she developed her own cardiac, stroke and physical rehabilitation center. The first facility of its kind in the region, Valda realized the financial and social hardships of patients sent 1000 miles to the mainland for care and capitalized on the value of having exceptional care rooted in cultural and linguistic diversity near at hand.
Inspired by her experiences over nearly a decade in the Caribbean and the Middle East and because of a high demand for her advice and training she created the Center for Human Diversity. Because of her leadership and innovative approach to problems she has received many honors and awards for her work in leadership and diversity and inclusion – from innovative and effective workforce assessments to community based programs for vulnerable populations to HIV and STD prevention strategies for teens and adults.
How do you change hearts and minds? Valda created a program to get the most disenfranchised women together with women who were successful. The program was called the Heart and Soul Red Dress Dinner and Seminar and it brought women out for a night of learning about their health in a relaxed and culturally appropriate setting. Over four years the Heart and Soul Red Dress event went from a beginning attendance of a few hundred to over 800 women representing 38 cultures and 18 languages. Many of the successful women became mentors for those less fortunate. Some micro-loans were given and home-based businesses were formed.
From the Heart and Soul program came the Living, Laughing and Loving series. It is fine to be successful but are you successful at life AND career or just career. Valda gives workshops and keynotes specifically designed to help career-minded people learn that “without your health” you are lacking. That can be physical, emotional, financial or psychological. Valda’s decades of experience as a Registered Nurse and nurse educator allow her to make fun and factual programs that work.
Building on the Center’s mission to reduce vulnerability Valda works to reduce infant and maternal mortality and is a frequent speaker/trainer for Healthy Start agencies. Her advanced training helps her to provide sexual literacy and relationship information to all who are interested because having control of your sexual health means you have control of your life. Her hope is that knowledge gained will be passed on to future generations and help to stem the tide of unwanted or unplanned pregnancies, problems during pregnancy and decrease the number of premature and low birth weight babies. She speaks to individuals and community groups about our responsibility to shape our communities by giving what is needed at the earliest possible point.
Valda is one of the featured writers in the recently released book The Speaker Anthology: 101 Stories that have Inspired and Motivated Audiences from Coast to Coast. Additionally Valda has contributed chapters to two medical textbooks on diversity and ethics, Cultural Proficiency in Eliminating Health Disparities and Health Care Services, Racial and Ethnic Minorities and Underserved Populations: Patient and Provider Perspectives and she is the author of Don’t Touch the Monk: and Other Stories of Global Faux Pas due to be released December 2021. She has written many articles, stories, and columns for local and national media outlets.
Valda engaged the audience in innovative ways that captivated everyone’s attention and made the time fly by. She was humorous, informative, inquisitive and heartfelt!
Director of Community Health Services
Annual Training, Appalachian District Health Department
Ms. Ford had the entire group mesmerized in short order with her commanding presence, her authoritative presentation of the substance of the issues, and her mix of styles—humor, stories, solid use of data … They loved her humour, her charisma, and the content of what she presented. Valda was a huge hit! She is outstanding!
Mary R. Hamilton, Ph.D., CAE
Director of Professional Programs
University of Nebraska at Omaha School of Public Administration