About

Valerie Vande Panne is an award-winning independent journalist and founder of Blackbird Literacy, an organization distributing books to Detroit residents and literacy programs.

Her work has been featured in the Boston Phoenix, Columbia Journalism ReviewHarvard Gazette, Harvard Law TodayPoliticoReuters, and Salon, among many other publications. She has also contributed to The New York Times. And she’s been published en español e portugues.

Ms. Vande Panne is a former Editor in Chief of Detroit’s alt-weekly, the Metro Times, where she oversaw the merger of the publication with its primary competitor; explosive growth in online presence; and brought regional issues to light, including coverage of the Flint water crisis beginning in early spring 2014, along with other water and environmental crises plaguing the region. She cultivated unparalleled coverage of race, diversity, culture, and development in Detroit.

She is also a former news editor of High Times magazine, where she broke stories years before the mainstream media.

Ms. Vande Panne spent many years working on drug policy reform. She coordinated VIP fundraisers for the Marijuana Policy Project. She was a founding board member of Flex Your Rights, an organization devoted to educating Americans on how to exercise their 4th Amendment rights. She is also a former non-student board member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the world’s largest student organization devoted to ending drug prohibition.

Ms. Vande Panne facilitated the first-ever global summit on ending the drug war, “Saliendo de las Sombras,” held in Mérida, Mexico in 2003. She’s coordinated dozens of other events, forums, and conferences, including “Is our drug policy effective?” with the New York Academy of Medicine, the New York Academy of Sciences, and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

She has served as a non-attorney member of the Drugs and the Law committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. She also managed the campaign office of Robert Morgenthau’s successful, final run for re-election as New York County (Manhattan) District Attorney.

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