Valerie B. “Val” Ackerman (College ’81) grew up in New Jersey and attended the University of Virginia, where she was a starter on the women’s basketball team for four years and twice named an Academic All-American. After graduating in 1981 with a bachelor’s degree in political and social thought, she played professional basketball in France for a year before earning a law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in 1985. She worked as an associate with the New York law firm of Simpson Thacher & Bartlett before joining the National Basketball Association as a staff attorney. She served as the first president of the Women’s National Basketball Association (1996-05) and is past president of USA Basketball (2005-08).
In 1997, she was honored with U.Va.’s Distinguished Alumna Award and currently serves on the University’s Campaign Executive Committee. She has been leading the University’s Women in Leadership and Philanthropy effort for several years.
Her board and philanthropic activities have included leadership roles with the March of Dimes, Girls Incorporated, the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, the International Basketball Federation, and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame. She currently serves as a sports consultant, a columnist for espnw.com and an adjunct professor in the graduate sports management program at Columbia University.