Valerie Holland, senior manager of Community Relations and Corporate Communications for the Houston Dynamo professional soccer club, loves the work that she does. During a phone call with Holland, the excitement in her voice was audible as she described some of her new charitable initiatives. She’s clearly exactly where she needs to be.
Holland went to school to become a teacher. It was during an internship she held with the NBA’s Denver Nuggets that she discovered she could combine her two passions: working with and inspiring children and a fierce love of sports. Working with a community relations department of a professional sports team was the best of both worlds.
Prior to working with the Houston Dynamo organization, Holland was with Kroenke Sports in Colorado. Although she enjoyed assisting the company’s four professional sports teams, she’s happy to be able to focus on one team now that she’s with the Dynamo.
When Holland started with the Dynamo, its charitable outreach program, Dynamo Charities, had been dormant for about a year. Rather than look at it as a challenge, she saw it as an opportunity to rebuild the program from the ground up. Dynamo Charities now has a brand new board, and it's rolling out several exciting programs.
When asked about the challenges she faces, Holland again described them as opportunities. “Houston is a challenging market. There are three other professional sports teams here. Soccer is the least well known," she said. "That actually works to our advantage, though. We know we have to be more innovative in order to make an impact. Our players understand that, too, and they jump at the opportunity to get out into the community and get involved.”
Holland is particularly excited about a few of the Dynamo charitable initiatives, such as Kicks for Kids, where she works with businesses that buy and donate tickets to Dynamo soccer games so disadvantaged children can attend and even meet the players.
She also discussed the Dynamo Charities In School program, where Dynamo players visit local schools and encourage children to stay active, stay in school and make healthy food choices. Holland described why the program was so meaningful to her, saying, “It’s the only opportunity many of these children will ever have to meet a professional athlete. It means something to them. I can see it on their faces. This is why I wake up every morning excited about going to work.”