For more than 40 years, Sister Valerie Heinonen’s name has been synonymous with shareholder advocacy and corporate engagement. Through her work with the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) and religious communities including the Sisters of Mercy, Sister Valerie has been a driving force for change in corporations – whether working with private prison companies on human rights issues, advocating gun manufacturers and retailers to end their role in the gun violence epidemic, or pushing weapons contractors to move toward peace.
After many years of service to the faith-based investing community, to the Sisters of Mercy, and to our global community, Sister Valerie will step down from her role as director of shareholder advocacy for Mercy Investment Services at the end of 2019. There are not enough words to adequately thank Sister Valerie for her tireless work and dedication to the many issues close to the Sisters of Mercy. She has been a model of Mercy, representing us through the Sisters of Mercy – Regional Community of Detroit, Mercy Investment Program and Mercy Investment Services, and embodying Catherine’s legacy of serving those most in need.
“Sister Valerie was there when I was first introduced to ICCR in the 70s. She was there to transition me to the executive director role many years later. In between, we lived together for a time and took on the housing gentrification on the Lower East Side. She is remarkable in her steadfastness. Mercy Investment Services rightfully will miss her and her extraordinary contribution,” Pat Wolf, RSM, says.
Cathy Rowan, chairperson of Mercy Investment Services’ Board of Directors, says,"Sister Valerie is a promoter and defender of human rights – such as the right to housing, the rights of indigenous peoples, and the right to live in a clean and safe environment – in the hundreds of meetings with corporations that she has had over the decades. She is a mentor and friend whose integrity is deeply respected by shareholder advocates and corporate leaders."
“Sister Valerie brought thoughtful analysis and an abiding commitment to respond to issues negatively impacting people and communities. Importantly, she brought great skills of persuasion to companies to address these issues and, when necessary, the diligent patience to carry on with long-term engagements with them to achieve needed outcomes and improvements. She has been a thought leader in this work, and she laid the groundwork for our shareholder advocacy program,” Susan Makos, Mercy Investment Services’ vice president of social responsibility, says.
Please join us in thanking Sister Valerie for her work over the years and wishing her well.