Valerie Wilson

Executive Director, Petal Area Chamber of Commerce

What advice would you give young girls today?
Get a Job! Working is essential for developing your financial future and knowing that you can take care of yourself.  You need to learn to budget and manage your money now, rather than later. You need to learn how to be independent and self reliant.  You'll also learn what it is like to work with other people early on, and be prepared for a job after graduation.  My 2nd piece of advice is to eat right!  Stay away from junk food!  Take care of your body!

Best advice woman has ever given you?
Be Courteous Always!  Of course this came from my Mom! We should treat everyone with common courtesy and respect.  But, we should also expect the same in return.  Never let anyone treat you without courtesy.   We are worthy of that.

 What does it take to be a strong woman leader?
Optimism! Despite failures and losses, a strong woman will stay optimistic and continue following her mission.  She believes in herself, her staff, co-workers and volunteers and doesn’t let difficulties keep them from achieving their goals. 

What is one event you could point to in your life that got you to where you are today?  
There is no one single event.  I didn’t even know what a chamber of commerce was when I was younger. But, the sum of many different experiences and jobs enabled me to take a chance on a new career and know that I could learn new skills.

Who is your female role model? 
I have several. They are the women that I work with on projects, committees, events, boards and causes.  They are each uniquely talented and do their part to make a difference in our community. I don’t have to look any further than my own backyard for exceptional role models.  (They know who they are!)

You get to share a meal with a group of women (deal or alive), who would they be and why?   
I would like to have dinner with the last 5 generations of women on my mother’s side of the family.  My mother, grandmother, great grandmother, etc.  They have such a story to tell of life in Lithuania then America.  I want to hear their memories of immigration, wars, love, children, hope, the depression, survival and success.  

Who is your female superhero?  
No one.

You can swap places with any one woman for a day, who would it be? 
I would LOVE to be a dolphin trainer!

What cartoon did you watch as a child?  
I can’t believe I’m admitting this……I watched the Three Stooges.  I’ve gotten over that.

Best childhood memory? 
I spent many wonderful days on our family’s land in Louisiana, wandering through the woods and pastures for hours with my horse.

Favorite female singer? 
Eva Cassidy

Favorite movie featuring women?  
Gone with the Wind

What is your spirit animal?  

Skill most like to master?  
I would love to be able to sing.  I would never stop!

What’s the destination for the trip of your dreams?  
New Zealand.

What age do you feel right now?  

How do you relax after a hard day?  
I sit on the front porch with my husband, Vaughn and enjoy a glass of wine while watching the birds, horses and current family dog.

What do you like to do in your free time?  
I’m a lawn mowing maniac