CEO of Awana, Author, and Speaker @ AWANA
As CEO, Valerie Bell will steward the high-level direction of the ministry while meeting with ministry advocates, church leaders, donors and ministry partners. Additionally, she will champion the ministry of Awana for the children of the world through her writing and speaking. Valerie brings to Awana an extensive background in leadership. For years she was on the leadership team and producer of The Chapel of the Air radio ministry and the 50 Day Spiritual Adventure. She served on the MOPS International board for seven years, including several years as chairperson. She is a lifelong advocate for children and families and has authored books on those topics including Nobody’s Children: Getting Out of Your Kids’ Faces and Into Their Hearts and Faith Shaped Kids.
Valerie Bell is an award-winning author and sought-after speaker who shares her spiritual journey with refreshing honesty, gentle humor, and a hunger for God. She has written many magazine articles and published numerous books—including A Well-Tended Soul; Real Survivors: Finding Hope and Courage in Times of Crisis; Made to Be Loved: Enjoying Spiritual Intimacy with God and Your Spouse; Faith-Shaped Kids: Helping Your Child Grow Spiritually; Nobody’s Children; Getting Out of Your Kids’ Faces and into Their Hearts—and her most recent publication, An African Awakening: My Journey into AIDS Activism, a collaborative project with World Vision. For 10 years she was heard regularly on The Chapel of the Air, a nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast featured on more than 500 outlets across North America.
Raised in a Christian home, Valerie came to faith as a child. However, after a cancer diagnosis as a young mother, she struggled with physical and spiritual fragility. Desperate to restore a sense of well-being, Valerie pursued God through a new-to-her set of spiritual practices. These healing practices focused special attention to the care of the soul. She came to realize that even a person suffering from cancer is still someone who is incredibly blessed by God. During that extended period of fear and anxiety, Valerie learned the “big lesson”—i.e. well-being flows from relationship with God instead of all-is-well circumstances. Those “fragile” years formed her spiritually, both deepening and authenticating her ministry voice.
Frequently invited to speak at churches, conferences, denominational meetings and retreats, Valerie also makes appearances on radio and television. Her writing and speaking ministries have led to ongoing partnerships with World Vision, Hungry Souls, MOPS International, Awana Clubs International, Global Bag Project, Compassion International, and Willow Creek Association. “I consider myself beyond fortunate for the richness of friendships and strategic partnerships for which I’m incredibly grateful to God.” Valerie’s passion for parenting and family concerns called her to serve for seven years on the Board of Directors of MOPS International, including three years as board chair through the end of her term in 2011. She also served on the Awana board for four years prior to assuming the role of Awana CEO. Valerie is also a global activist and represents the Global Bag Project as Director of Strategic Alliances.
Valerie is a member of Willow Creek Community Church and is married to Steve Bell, an executive vice president of Willow Creek Association. The Bells live in Kildeer, Illinois and are the parents of two grown sons—Brendan and Justin—and the adoring grandparents of Rowan, Rhys, and Merrick Bell.