Featured Member September, 2019 - Valrie Simpson


Each month we feature a member of the Jamaican Women of Florida as a way for us to learn more about each other and share the stories of the powerful women who make up this wonderful organization. September’s featured member is Ms. Valrie Simpson, who is one of our Founding Members. We’re proud to have her as one of our members.

Ms. Valrie Simpson Regional Manager  Broward County Library Association

Ms. Valrie Simpson Regional Manager Broward County Library Association

Valrie Simpson is the Regional Manager, Broward County Libraries, Central Region. A true cultural ambassador Valerie knows the importance of passing on the Caribbean culture to the next generation. In 2012 she was selected by Riddims' Marketing online Caribbean magazine as the CHANGE maker for her dedication towards the preservation and exhibition of Caribbean arts throughout South Florida and Internationally. She was named as a luminary on Jamaica's Consul's General list of Jamaica 50 Diaspora honorees for Florida and the South U.S.A.

Valerie is the second child for Bertha and Cleveland Simpson, sister to Carrol, Consuala Grace and Faith (June), mother to Nailah and Zahra-Joye and grandmother to Emery, Hollis, and Cleo. Valerie is also a Founding member for Jamaican Women of Florida.

Describe yourself using 3/5 words

I consider myself caring, creative, curious, meticulous and mindful.

What motivates you?

Information Sharing. learning something new and sharing with others. I thought I was a Librarian by chance of my impatience to stand in the long 1977 UWI [Mona], Social Sciences registration line in pursuit of my desire to be an Urban Planner and the sight of a short line with two or three students registering for Library Studies! Now I know it was my deep seated desire to learn the best ways to share information.

Name something you are passionate about and why?

Genealogy; family histories. I’m fascinated by the six degrees of separation.  I had a coworker whom my 5 year old first daughter insisted on calling Aunty Carrol… I saw a vague resemblance between my sister and my co-worker, not enough for me to query her, now I am sorry I did not… fast forward thirty years, in one of my genealogy searches I found my maternal Great Grand Mother, Rebecca Lawrence and she is probably a relative of my coworker – who has since passed on, because her maiden name was Lawrence.  Things that make you go hmm, hmm, hmm.

Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?

I’m amazed and impressed by persons who are able to overcome or persevere through adversity to victory.  JWOF’s Women’s Empowerment Conference has been and continues to be a wellspring of Jamaicans who are pushing through barriers and leaving their “Brand Jamaica” imprint on the world.

What age do you wish you could permanently be? And why?

On my 52nd Birthday, I wrote on a bookmark that I made – “At the age of Fifty-Two… in my dreams I remain somewhere between twenty-five and twenty-two”.  I love the time between 22 and 52 best, I was blooming!

What’s something you like to do the old-fashioned way?

Shop – I want to investigate and experience the “thing” that is going to belong to me with at least two of my senses and pay for my purchase by writing a cheque!  I miss going to Papine Market with its mingled odors of fresh fruits, vegetables and the shwah shwah sound of walking on the banana leaf carpet.  I still sniff for the sugar in pineapples before buying it, in Costco!

What was the best book or series that you’ve ever read?

I love Caribbean and Historical novels, children’s books, The Holy Bible and Our Daily Bread – I love reading to my grand-daughters. I have a list of authors that I will listen for the announcement of new books, and check the library shelves for titles I may have missed. Recent books I’ve read include a re-listen of The Bluest Eye/ Toni Morrison, Educated/ Tara Westover, The Library Book/ Susan Orlean [don’t judge this book by the title – it is a fascinating record of the Los Angeles Library fire combined with the science of fires, a history of libraries and the author’s memoir], The Dressmaker’s War/ Mary Chamberlain, ‘Til the Well Runs Dry: A Novel/ Lauren Francis Sharma – this one’s a Trinidadian immigrant story that starts there in 1943, infused with the sights, sounds and racial mingling in T’n’T and Marcia Garcia’s experiences in America! Loved Lorna Goodison’s From Harvey River, and seek out the latest writings of Edwidge Danticat, Toni Morrison, Jhumpa Lahiri, Ken Follet…


‘cause it’s the right place for a well-thinking Jamaican Woman in Florida to be! Check out the website at www.jamaicanwomenofflorida.com and you will see /read for yourself, this is where you should be… man or woman, senior or teen, trust me!

MembersDorothene Kelly-Hoilett