Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), hosted by the United Nations Foundation, announced today the sad news of the loss of its founding executive director, Valerie DeFillipo, who died in Washington, D.C. on April 16.
FP2020 and the United Nations Foundation jointly extend their heartfelt condolences to Valerie’s family, friends and colleagues across the reproductive health community.
Valerie’s impressive career spanned many decades, and her accomplishments speak for themselves: In her nearly two years at the helm of FP2020, she rallied the community and sowed the seeds of innovation and entrepreneurship that have enabled the initiative to flourish into a strong and dynamic global movement.
Her vision and leadership have left an indelible imprint on the lives of women and girls around the world. Unafraid to speak out when others couldn’t, Valerie never wavered in her passion and determination to ensure that every woman and girl have the same access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, no matter where they live. She brought this vision to FP2020, where she was a tireless advocate to achieve the ambitious goal set forth at the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning.
“Valerie was a respected champion in the international family planning community whose enthusiasm and leadership helped build FP2020 into the strong movement it is today,” said United Nations Foundation President and CEO Kathy Calvin. “We will be forever grateful for the transformational advocacy and programmatic leadership to ensure all women have choices, and their rights are respected and upheld.”
Yet Valerie is remembered not just for her professional legacy. She was also widely regarding as a mentor and a friend whose empathy and warmth touched not only the women whose lives she endeavored to support, but also her colleagues. Many of the people she worked with over the years became dear friends throughout her career.
“Valerie was truly an inspiration to each and every one of us and we will miss her greatly,” said FP2020’s interim executive director Beth Schlachter. “As we mourn the untimely loss of a much-loved colleague and friend, it will serve as a daily reminder to work even harder to ensure her legacy is upheld and that family planning remains a permanent fixture on the global health agenda.”
Beth Schlachter took over as interim executive director when Valerie stepped down in February 2015, and continues to lead the FP2020 movement.
News of Valerie’s passing comes as FP2020 prepares to convene its Reference Group for a two-day meeting in New Delhi, India. Her legacy will serve as inspiration for the FP2020 movement moving forward.
Messages of condolences will be shared with her family and can be sent to RememberingValerie@familyplanning2020.org.