Valerie Orth

A long-time grassroots organizer, Valerie Orth led a diverse coalition to successfully pass the nation's strongest anti-sweatshop law, and sparked campaigns in numerous other cities. Valerie continues to build the movement as an economic justice workshop leader, the chair of San Francisco's Advisory Group on Sweatfree Purchasing enforcement and a touring singer-songwriter ( ). She now offers unique and interactive presentations, combining musical performance and social justice.

As the Sweatfree Campaigns Organizer at Global Exchange, Valerie led a coalition of 56 labor, faith-based, student and community groups, to unanimously pass a law prohibiting the city of San Francisco from purchasing goods made in sweatshops. Valerie previously ran Global Exchange's Fair Trade Coffee and Chocolate campaign for communities nationally to demand Fair Trade commodities from their local stores as well as from large corporations, such as Procter & Gamble and M&M/Mars.
Her unavoidable love for social justice organizing is matched only by her passion as an outspoken musician. In early 2007, she released her debut solo album, "This At Last" (available at ). She now performs regularly with a dynamic rock trio (Bob Sanders on bass, Abigail Picache on drums) as well as solo, whether in clubs or as part of presentations on sweatshops or being a feminist in the music industry.
"Valerie sings with urgency -- like she has just figured out some late-night truth about the world, and needs to tell it to everyone who will listen" - Eliza Strickland, San Francisco Weekly
"Known as much for her stage presence as for her rock-tinged folk music, San Francisco singer/songwriter/guitarist Valerie Orth captivates the crowd... [She is] soulful, genuine, and edgy." - San Francisco Bay Guardian
Before writing songs and before working at Global Exchange, Valerie represented industrial laundry workers in California with UNITE Local 75 (Union of Needletrades, Industrial, and Textile Employees). She was also a grassroots organizer with Green Corps (the field school for environmental organizing) where she worked on legislative and corporate campaigns nationwide. She is now an active board member for both Fair Workplace Council (working towards sweatfree electronics) and Youth Empowerment Action. Valerie earned her Women's Studies degree at Tufts University.
Topics covered
  • Grassroots Organizing
  • Organizing in Your Community
  • Feminism and Music
If you would like to plan a speaking event with Valerie, please email her at valerie@valerieorth [dot] com