By Keri Foy

Valerie Casey hits target areas for her personal growth.

Valerie Casey is a mom to four children, the director of the Women’s Center at the University of Louisville, and a supporter of the arts. She is an avid hiker. It’s during long car rides, such as the trek across the Midwest to Colorado, that Valerie listens to books on tape. Her profession, hobbies, and responsibilities shape what media she digests.

These posters were created by women who participated in a protest. Photos by Melissa Donald 

Listening to?

  • Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson. August’s solar eclipse prompted Valerie to pick up the book on tape. “I was fascinated by the theories presented,” Valerie says. “I wanted a broad overview of the universe. [The book] went into more detail than I had background knowledge, so I may want to listen to it again.” Valerie found the theory that the universe may not be infinite intriguing.
  • A three-book crime fiction series featuring Cormoran Strike by J.K. Rowling under her pen name, Robert Galbraith. “My children grew up on Harry Potter, but this is a detective series for adults,” Valerie says. While Valerie liked the Harry Potter series, the writing style for this series, whose main character is a somewhat flawed man, is different. “It’s a great series to listen to on audio books for long travel. [Rowling/Galbraith] did a great job developing the characters, building suspense, and resolving the mystery with interesting and satisfying conclusions.”
  • Darwin’s Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution by Rebecca Stott. The catchy title of this nonfiction book is what drew in Valerie. The author discusses other researchers that Charles Darwin credits in his book, On the Origin of Species. “I really didn’t know what I was going to be reading,” Valerie says. “Once I got into it, I was surprised and really enjoyed learning about the ancient philosophers, their lives, and their theories.They set the stage for Darwin’s work.”


Valerie is in a book club that’s been meeting for over two decades. She’s relatively “new” to the group, having participated for seven to eight years. “It’s a group of wonderful women,” Valerie says. Recently the club has read:

  • The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro. This novel was made into a movie that starred Emma Thompson and Anthony Hopkins. “I enjoyed this poignant, sad story,” Valerie says. “It reflects on the nature of memory, loyalty, and the English class system. I like the book and the movie.”
  • A White Wind Blew by local author James Markert. This historical fiction novel about Waverly Hills and tuberculosis gives readers the history of Waverly Hills, Louisville, the Seelbach Hotel, and formerly held attitudes toward those with tuberculosis.
  • Mad Enchantment by Ross King is a biography of Claude Monet. “You learn about Monet and his life in France, centering on the painting of his Water Lilies series.”
  • Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People by Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greenwald. Not a part of the book club list, Valerie picked up this book after listening to a presentation by Cynthia Knapek of Leadership Louisville.
  • A couple of her all-time favorites are The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. “I cried out loud while reading Cutting for Stone,” Valerie says.

In addition to her book club reads and Blindspot, Valerie also gets feeds from the following: The Courier-Journal, New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Business First, National Women’s History Month Project,, Good Reads, Louisville Visual Art Association, and National Geographic Photographer.


  • Stranger Things. “I binge-watched it,” Valerie says. “I loved the character Eleven. She’s a young woman who’s very powerful.”
  • Modern Family. “We record it and watch when we can,” Valerie says. “I love it.”
  • Curb Your Enthusiasm. “It’s such a cringe show,” Valerie says. “But it’s hysterical and entertaining.”

This glass figure is a prototype of the Women’s Center Empowerment Award. 

Who are you following?

  • Valerie follows the Speed Art Museum, The Louisville Orchestra, and the Louisville Palace. “If I didn’t follow the arts on social media, I might miss an opportunity,” Valerie says. “It’s a way for me to keep track to see what arts, shows, and performances are coming to town. I think it is such a valuable addition to my life.”
  • Valerie developed her love of the arts at Presentation Academy where she attended high school. “We were exposed to the arts as children, and I think it should be accessible to everyone,” Valerie says. “I think arts add to the quality of people’s lives.”