Valérie Assoi

Valérie Assoi

Community Pillars

Through exceptionally positive and inspiring leadership, Valérie Assoi builds bridges between heterogeneous groups which, in her perspective, do not often intermingle. Her deep desire along with her immense ability to forge links makes her an ambassador of best practices in terms of diversity, inclusion, and equity. She brings with her a wind of change and experience in mobilizing the community on countless levels to make Ottawa an ever more open and welcoming city for every citizen.

Originally from the Ivory Coast, Valérie Assoi was a career economist before emigrating from her country in the midst of war in 2006 to settle in Canada. Although an expert in her field, she was concerned about the conflicts she had witnessed, whether in her home continent, in her professional life, or even in her personal life. She was curious about the source of these conflicts and methods to help resolve them. She, therefore, enrolled in a Master’s Degree in Conflict Studies at Saint Paul University in Ottawa which she attained in 2010.

At the same time, it was important for her to contribute to her new community and to support her neighbors in order to build a stronger and more inclusive world. She immediately volunteered at the local community center, then gradually in more than 10 community organizations, including the African-Canadian Association of Ottawa, Le Hub Noir 613-819, the Coalition of Francophone Blacks, and the Network for the Advancement of Black Communities.

In light of her experience, reputation, and strength of leadership, she joined the City for All Women Initiative (CAWI) in 2009. For several years, she has been a Board Member of this important group and Coordinator of Community Engagement and Training Development Officer. In her capacity, she plays a key role in forming groups of women from great cultural diversity and from less privileged social backgrounds in order to equip them to participate in municipal life. She has also shared her vision in a publication she co-authored titled, Weaving Inclusion Fibers: A Community-Based Facilitation Guide.

Through CAWI, Ms. Assoi has participated within the past few years in organizing forums on anti-black racism at Ottawa City Hall with over 300 participants. More recently, with the Covid-19 pandemic impacting women more severely – especially those from diverse backgrounds – she has greatly contributed to making recommendations to the city of Ottawa and in requesting answers as a means to account for the Covid-19 gender disparities. By targeting with great precision and foresight the needs of the most vulnerable members of the community, Valérie Assoi always engages in creating conditions favorable to their inclusion and, more broadly, in innovations for establishing a more equitable and wealthy society in all its diversity.

In 2017, Valérie Assoi became the first black woman to sit at the political table of the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Center-Est (CECCE) as a School Board Trustee. Since then, she has been deeply involved in a mandate of service to her school community and is particularly passionate about the issues of equity and educational well-being.

Ms.  Assoi can always be counted on to rise up as an ardent defender of the Francophonie in all its implications. She sat on the board of directors of the Movement of Francophone Involvement in Orléans (MIFO) and is currently a member of the Assembly of the Francophonie in Ontario. Her contributions help change the landscape of the community by making it an increasingly inclusive environment and ensuring the promotion of Franco-diversity.

On a professional level, all of Valérie Assoi’s energy and skills converge in the same direction. From 2013 to 2019, she served as the Community Development Officer at the South East Ottawa Community Health Center, quickly rising through the ranks and giving the best of herself to this community. Then in 2019, she dedicated herself to PARO Center for Women’s Enterprise as its Business Development Coordinator where she helped design and deliver, with intersectional equity and inclusion lens, business development training and services for women to increase economic productivity, innovation, and profitability. She helped support female entrepreneurs to kick off their businesses from the ideation to the commercialization with tools and networks to assist in scaling up their businesses. In 2020, she launched her own business in conflict resolution with a focus on diversity, inclusion, and equity named Assoival Consulting and Acacia Médiation.

Over the years, Valérie Assoi has become a model of involvement and an essential reference in the Ottawa community, especially for women of diverse backgrounds. Not only has she built her sense of belonging by volunteering and by being professionally involved in many projects, she has also given faith, courage, and resources to countless people, especially the poorest. Her contributions continue to inspire women and young people from diverse backgrounds to discover their own voices, establish their place, and develop their full potential.

Valérie Assoi’s remarkable leadership and her positive impact in the community have earned her two prestigious awards, the Prix Femmes et Filles Leaders d’Orléans (2019) and the Prix du Regroupement Affaires Femmes (RAF) in the Community Engagement Category (2020).