Valerie Hickey to receive 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award

Author: Anna Romandash

Valerie Hickey '00 M.A. received the Kroc Instituted's 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award on November 1.Valerie Hickey '00 M.A. received the Kroc Instituted's 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award on November 1.

Valerie Hickey, a 2000 graduate of the International Peace Studies Master’s program at the University of Notre Dame, has been selected to receive the Kroc Institute’s 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award. Hickey serves as a Global Director for Environment, Natural Resources and the Blue Economy at the World Bank. Throughout her career, she has been focusing on sustainable ways to reduce poverty across the globe by using natural capital.

Hickey will receive the award and deliver a lecture titled “The Multiplier Effects of the Triple Environment Crises on International Peace and Development” on Tuesday, November 1, 2022, at 4:00 p.m. The lecture will take place in the auditorium at the Hesburgh Center for International Studies, and it will also be livestreamed

The Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 2004 to honor a graduate of the Kroc Institute whose career and life exemplifies the ideals of international peacebuilding.

Through her work, Hickey bridges peacebuilding with development, climate and nature, and caters to those affected both by poverty and conflict. She credits her experience of growing up in Ireland in the 80’s and 90’s as a major motivation for working toward peace and choosing to pursue a degree at Notre Dame.

“The Kroc Institute gave me a gift that keeps on giving: the gift of a graduate education that was robust, science-based and with the idea of public service at its center; and the gift of a community that has continued to inspire and uplift me, and provide me with concrete ideas for action over the years,” said Hickey. “I am a better person, a better thinker and someone much more aware of her responsibility to work tirelessly on behalf of people in trouble and in poverty because of my time at Notre Dame.”

After her studies at the Kroc, Hickey joined the World Wildlife Fund, where she worked on transforming environmental conflicts. She later moved to another international NGO, the Wildlife Conservation Society, where she continued working on environmental and peace issues.

Her next career step was joining the World Bank as a specialist in East Asia and the Pacific. This work inspired her to pursue further studies to gain a deeper understanding of the environment and natural sciences. Hickey earned a Ph.D in Environmental Science and Policy from Duke University in 2009, after which she returned to the World Bank.

With the World Bank, Hickey worked as the Practice Manager for Environment, Natural Resources and Blue Economy in Latin America and the Caribbean, where she oversaw around $2 billion of investment across the region. In her role in LAC as well as playing the same role in Europe and Central Asia, the alumna supported local communities affected by climate change, the loss of natural capital and pollution, helping countries reform policies and invest in projects focusing on environmental health and sustainability, social inclusion, and resilient growth.

In 2022, Hickey was promoted to a Global Director for Environment, Natural Resources and the Blue Economy at the World Bank, where she continues to invest in solutions to local problems by tapping global expertise and experiences around the world, whether that expertise is rooted in modern sciences or traditional, indigenous practice. 

During her upcoming visit to Notre Dame, Hickey will talk about her work as well as share insights into the triple environmental crises of climate change, nature loss, and pollution. The alumna will highlight how these issues threaten fragile peace and slow down development across the globe, especially in the world that is still recovering from the aftermath of the Covid pandemic.

You can watch Hickey’s Distinguished Alumni Award lecture here.

Originally published by Anna Romandash at on October 25, 2022.