Valentine Giraud-Robben is on the IONS Board of Directors. Her journey began in Brazil, where she was born and raised in a family of manifold ethnic roots: African, European, and Native Brazilians. She grew up in an environment that certainly influenced the paths that she has chosen to take. Here family has offered her a world of deep connection, reflection, and activism since very early in her life. She was brought up in nature, where she grew her own food, lived in community with other families, followed different spiritual practices, and learned about social and environmental activism by following her parents and grandparents’ examples. While growing up, she took part in conversations at the dinner table of her grandparents (Tamas Makray) about the state of the world, the shift in the paradigm of our times, and about our own responsibility in making a difference.
Having lived in a country were the great majority of people do not complete their primary studies, and are faced with the problems of lack of infrastructure, such as water, sanitation, and health, she always felt the moral responsibility to make choices that would benefit her people and others. She has been motivated by the idea of changing the world and decided to take a bachelor degree in International Relations. Her aim was to work with human development organizations that were part of the decision-making process. She wanted to work within systems that held the power to change the macro structures of our society.
Her professional career started in her last year of studies, when she joined the ABN Amro Banco Real Bank, in the team of education and sustainable development. After graduating, she went to live and work in India for one year as an AIESEC trainee at a grassroots NGO located in the Rajasthan, dedicated to rural development. She also joined Planet Finance, an international NGO focused on building bridges among microfinance institutions locally, regionally, and internationally. More than an amazing and very enriching professional experience, it was a life-changing experience – as her grandfather would say, “A trip to India can change your life." In India she learned about humanity, expressed in the oppressing misery in which many people lived, but which is also expressed with compassionate eyes and attitude they have towards life.
Her home base is Amsterdam, and a committed heart to marriage and to her calling to being in the world, her story of journeys, discoveries, and hosting participatory processes continue in South America, Mexico, Sweden, and most recently in the west of the United States. She is currently working on a book, which tells the story of her life as the story of her generation. Its purpose is to inspire and provide other young and adult people to live following their spirit and inner knowledge.
IONS 40th Anniversary Conversations
IONS CEO/President, Steve Villano, and his guest, IONS' youngest board member, Valentine Giraud-Robben, discuss the inter-generational and international possibilities for IONS during the next 40 years.