Valencia Gunder

SpecialitySocial Impact Leader, Climate Change Advocate
BiographyValencia Gunder or as most recognize her, “Vee”, is a very reputable, enthusiastic, self-motivated, driven and extremely inspiring leader in our community who is turning ripples into waves, who has also officially been branded as; "The modern Day Fannie Lou Hamer." Community Advocate and Organizer. Valencia comes from a long line of leaders and pioneers in Miami. As a Miami Native; Valencia also gained all of her education here in Miami and graduated from Miami Central Senior High. She then decided to further her education where she attended Florida A & M University, where she studied International Agricultural Business. Valencia grasped and truly understood the meaning of redemption and change at a very early age. Which led to her volunteering starting her journey at the tender age of seven with the Camillus House and Toys for Tots. Growing extremely fond of this newly discovered passion, Valencia has accepted and allowed it to over-take her lifestyle as she matures into womanhood. Valencia is the Founder of the organization, The Smile Trust in 2014; after a short experience of homelessness, she knew that it was important to give back. With a group of phenomenal community leaders such as herself, set out Monthly to: Feed, Provide resources and guidance to transition to the Homeless and the Working Poor Class Citizens a better way of life. Make The Smile has successfully assisted over 350K individuals. Valencia also is Co-Founder and executive Director of The Black Collective which Is a movement committed to promoting a shared agenda to elevate political consciousness and amplify the economic power of Black communities. Vee has been known to lead local, National and International movements, in 2015 in the wake of Flint water crisis, she challenged Miami to assist the people of Flint. In 2017 She is the founder of the Community Emergency Outreach Center that assisted over 23,000 residents after Hurricane Irma. After Hurricane Dorian, Valencia and the Smile Team expanded their emergency response outreach to the global south with their "One Bahamas" programs, providing over 3 tons of supplies to the islands of Bahamas in less than a week, building coalition with local Bahamian Orgs and assisting Bahamians that were seeking refuge in South Florida. And now has scaled to 4 countries and 8 U.S. States. Through this work we have been able to partner with over 250 community and grassroots organizations, trained 500 community organizers in disaster response and have served over 1 million households. In 2020 she created the Black Hive at The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL’s Climate Justice Collective), creating the largest and only all black climate justice project in the U.S. including 200 climate leaders across the US. Valencia also helps with assisting many Community-Based Organizations with a variety of events around South Florida and Partners with many Grassroots organizations to assure that there is REAL change being executed. For example, she was awarded the Soros Justice Fellowship in 2017 for her project a Rapid Response toolkit "LIFT" to help decrease Police and inter community violence in Miami. Though she is not an environmentalist, Valencia has led conversations around climate awareness in many communities on topics including sea level rise, emergency preparedness, and climate gentrification, food safety and housing and has spoken around the country on her work around Climate Gentrification. Also a part of the 2017 Miami Delegation of the Young American Leadership Program at Harvard Business School. Growing up in Liberty City, Miami, she was always reminded of the problems we face with law enforcement in low-income communities: police brutality, lack of presence in high crime areas and no political urgency in the face of rampant gun violence. Summer 2016, she led the community mobilizations on behalf of Mr. Charles Kinsey, the therapist who was shot by a North Miami police officer while he was trying to protect his autistic patient. She fought on multiple fronts, within the community asking our neighbors to stop profiling our young men of color, confronting the police department, police union and states attorney to demand justice in the wake of this atrocity. Through this organized outrage we demanded accountability – that the officer who shot Mr. Kinsey be fired from the force, and that the department tighten up on policies, especially ones that treat officers involved shooting innocent black men with impunity. Undoubtedly, the de-escalation of police tactics is necessary for any kind of progress. Climate Change and Resilience is the thing she is most passionate about from neighborhood climate advocacy to Research and Speaking on Climate Gentrification and Disaster Response she has become highly recognized for her work Nationally. Publishing her very first Disaster Recovery report Arctic Blast Storm Recovery Impact Report. Valencia’s work has been recognized on national platforms, such as The National Geographic, The Root, The New York Times, BET. Inaugural Advocate in Residence at Florida Memorial University, Curriculum creation and facilitation for the Portal Project at University of Illinois Chicago

All session
by Valencia Gunder

The Summit is put on by the Black Professionals Netwok (BPN) a 501C3 social learning organization focused on furthering the goals of our professionals. Our mission is simple – reduce the career achievemnet gap for professionals of color by providing them access to resources and opportunities for their overall success.