Blake Valentine

Blake Valentine

United Way of Greater Knoxville


Hometown: Memphis, TN

What is your vision for Knoxville 10 years from now?

My vision for Knoxville 2034 is that of a community where everyone thrives. Community collaboration will continue to lead to public and private partnerships that support driving more equitable outcomes for all. I’m especially excited to see new jobs with living wages; a dramatic increase in quality, affordable housing; expansion of equitable healthcare; and thriving neighborhoods centered around thriving schools.

What is Knoxville’s Best Kept Secret?

I know I am biased, but I’d have to say Knoxville’s nonprofit community. While there are some familiar brand names, most people (and I was one of them) have no idea of the expansive scope of services provided by many of these well-known community organizations. And then there are hundreds of hyper-focused, hyper-local community organizations supporting families in thoughtful and respectful ways in every corner of our community.

What would you do to strengthen Knoxville?

“The foundation of every state is the education of its youth.” Diogenes. We must continue to invest into better support from cradle to career starting with more programs for mothers of infants/toddlers, quality affordable childcare, and early education programming. More targeted intervention to support mothers, infants, toddlers, and pre-k children will strengthen Knoxville in the present and for years to come. The youth are our future. We must strengthen them from the start.

What is your favorite Knoxville memory?

My fondest memories surround my experiences at and with the University of Tennessee. Whether walking Cumberland Avenue before a football game as a child, attending classes as an undergraduate, or participating in new executive education or non-credit courses to continue my learning journey, I’m grateful for the impact that the university has had on me and on our community.

What is your favorite book or what book is currently on your nightstand?

Traction by Gino Wickman

What is the best advice you have received from a mentor, and who was that mentor?

This “mentor” was not alive in my lifetime. But I love this quote attributed to John Wesley. “Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.”

What advice would you give to your 16 year old self?

“Know thyself.” Always be keenly self-aware. Identify and appreciate your strengths and then lean into those in all that you do.

Blake Valentine