Sr. Valerie Heinonen: Advocate for Corporate Social Justice

Sr. Valerie Heinonen was featured in the Washington Post on June 27, 2007 for decades of service in corporate social justice and responsibility. Through the years, she pressed financial services firms to support affordable housing and defense contractors to limit weapons sales. She called on companies to protect the environment and human rights. She targeted corporate governance and executive compensation.

Sr. Valerie started her career in shareholder activism by chance when she responded to a posting for a job at the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the then newly formed coalition for faith based investors. Throughout her career, she pursued Issues related to human trafficking of women and children, protection of the rights of indigenous persons and immigrants, fair treatment of workers, effects of weapons and militarism, environmental and human impacts of chemicals, and fair and equitable access to capital.

In a 2005 New York Times article, Sr. Valerie Heinonen said, “Part of what we are doing is planting seeds.” Valerie’s own words aptly describe her commitment to corporate social responsibility. She has “planted seeds” through countless dialogues and resolutions with companies, fearlessly encouraging them to be accountable for the impacts of their businesses.

She now serves as a corporate social responsibility consultant for her own congregation, as well as for the Dominican Sisters of Hope and the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. Speaking of Sr. Valerie in the Washington Post, a corporate representative said, “If she has a disagreement with me, she’ll put her velvet elbow in my eye, and she’ll still be a friend.”