Deb Del Valle just doesn’t like to sit still. And she’s naturally curious. So, while the media relations specialist spends weekdays and some weekends writing University press releases and pitching stories to local media outlets, she may also spend evenings and other free time planning production projects for S.P.C.A., Cincinnati, buying and selling antiques at local markets or on eBay, and driving nails or writing press material for Habitat for Humanity. In her spare time, she reads, travels and spoils her two cats, Lois and Clark.
Del Valle came to Xavier as a contract worker in November 2002. By then, she’d already built a solid résumé in radio and television news, as well as the world of corporate video/presentation production. The Detroit native arrived in Cincinnati in 1991 to work at WKRC-TV.
“In the television business, you move around a lot,” Del Valle says. “I came here thinking, ‘I’ll work for a couple years and move on. But I just fell in love with Cincinnati.”
So much so, that when she began to look around for other opportunities, she decided to freelance and base her operations in the Queen City. Freelancing eventually led Del Valle to Xavier, as a temporary replacement for a staffer on maternity leave. Ultimately, the new mom chose not to return, and the job finally became a full-time commitment.
But that doesn’t mean she stopped moving. The network of freelance connections she made over the years keeps calling with requests. For the past eight years, one of Del Valle’s pet projects is producing the S.P.C.A.’s annual Adopt-a-Pet Fund telethon. She also helps coordinate media relations for the organization’s annual Doggie Dash and Fur Ball Gala, and this year, she helped draw media attention to the first–ever IAMs Friends-for-Life Dog Day at Great American Ballpark.
“I got really involved with them, because animal causes are one of my things,” she says.
So much so that two years ago, Del Valle celebrated a landmark birthday by renting the Playhouse in the Park and asking partygoers to make contributions to the S.P.C.A. in lieu of a gift. The event raised $700.
Del Valle’s S.P.C.A. connections also brought he in touch with iconic artist Peter Max, famed for his colorful, 1960s-1970s poster art. In 2004, a cow escaped from one off the local slaughterhouses and took refuge in Mount Storm Park, where for several days it seem to outwit local law enforcement officials sent to capture it. The event drew national news coverage, culminating the cow’s capture. Max ultimately bought the cow to save it from an unpleasant end, and Del Valle coordinated media coverage of his subsequent visit. As a result, Max contacted her to help out with subsequent visits to the Queen City, at one point paying her with two paintings.
And she continues to take other projects as well, as her schedule allows. One of the highlights is her production work for the annual Palm Beach International Film Festival in Palm Beach, Fla. For most of the past five years, Del Valle has been part of a team charged with creating career-defining film montages for a laundry list of A-list actor honorees, including Dennis Hopper and Peter Boyle.
“In journalism, you have to have a curiosity about so many different things,” she says.
This same curiosity is probably responsible for Del Valle’s antique habit. It began innocently enough: She realized most of the popular collectible pottery was made in Ohio and wanted to collect a piece from each maker. Eventually, she accumulated more than she wanted, and decided to start selling it. “I’ve always loved to collect things,” she says. “It’s all about the hunt. When you get the big find, you just want another.”
Between all these activites, Del Valle has found herself increasingly involved in a steady stream of volunteer activities as well. She currently volunteers for the Dinsmore Homestead, an historic site in Boone, County, Ky.; and writes press materials for the Millcreek Habitat for Humanity.
“Service is something that came from growing up,” she says. “Even in Girl Scouts, because we were so city based, we weren’t out camping all the time, we did service projects all the time. And that’s one of the things I really like about Xavier—the service.”
That, of course, and the fact that there’s always something new to discover, which makes it perfectly suited for someone who like to keep moving. “I signed up for the alternative break,” she says. “Hopefully, they’ll accept me and let me go on a trip next spring.”