Valerie Simmons-Walston is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. She attended Kent State University where she earned a B.A. in Sociology, then went on to Hampton University where she received a M.A. in Counseling. She is currently working on an Ed.D in higher Education at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.


Walston has served in a myriad of Leadership roles over the past fourteen years within the Public School System, and in the arena of Higher Education. Formerly a School Counselor/Director, she is currently the Dean of Retention and Student Success at Brenau University. In this role, she oversees Residence Life Staff, provides student support, serves as a Judicial Officer, and reports retention data. Walston thrives on implementing practical retention techniques. She hopes to encourage other Student Affairs Practitioners to apply her C.R.I.S.P. approach to retention and leadership initiatives worldwide. She is a passionate student advocate and received the Haggerman-Thompson Excellence in Service Award in 2012 for her work with students, staff and faculty. This is the highest honor a staff member can receive at Brenau University.


Community Service is significant in the fabric of Walston’s life. In her spare time, she serves as Vice President for Gainesville, Georgia Toastmasters, and a mentor for the Lambda Iota Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Emerging Young Leaders Program. She is also actively involved in her church and serves on the Board of Directors for WomenSource, a local service organization created to empower women.  She has a great sense of humor, contagious personality, and a zest for life.

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