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Laura LaValley: Cultivating Community and Embracing Legacy in the Peace Region

Laura LaValley: Cultivating Community and Embracing Legacy in the Peace Region

Laura LaValley's journey in the Peace Country is deeply woven into the fabric of its history and community. Born in Grande Prairie and raised on a grain farm in DeBolt, Laura's upbringing reflects the resilience and pioneering spirit synonymous with the region.

Reflecting on her family's legacy, Laura speaks proudly of her family's contributions to the Peace Country's development. Her paternal grandmother, Winnie Moore (nee DeBolt), was a trailblazer who journeyed across the Edson Trail in 1920, settling in what would become the hamlet named after her family, DeBolt. On her maternal side, Laura's great-grandfather, JB Oliver, was one of the first settlers, playing a pivotal role in establishing Grande Prairie through ventures like Oliver's Furniture and Oliver's Funeral Home, which still serves the community today.

From an early age, Laura found herself naturally drawn to community involvement and service. She witnessed roles ranging from answering calls on the fire phone in her parents home to organizing fundraisers and community events. Inspired by the camaraderie, respect, and shared purpose of these experiences, Laura learned that meaningful change begins with individuals willing to roll up their sleeves and contribute. "If you want to see good things happen," she reflects, "you must be willing to do your part."

Reflecting on her journey, Laura draws inspiration from her grandmother, Joan Little. Despite facing immense physical pain, Joan possessed an extraordinary gift for making everyone feel valued and loved. Her ability to cultivate hope through acts of kindness serves as a guiding light for Laura, fueling further passion for community engagement and service.

Laura has actively engaged in a diverse range of volunteer and leadership endeavors throughout the region, each fueled by her passion for creating tangible and meaningful change. Here are some of her notable contributions:

  • Bezanson Recreational Society: Instrumental in founding the organization (previously Bezanson Volunteer Fire Department Society), Laura has been a driving force behind providing recreational facilities and programming for the community since 2003.
  • Medical Co-Response Program: Serving as the Medical Co-Response Unit Chief/Lieutenant from 2009 to 2018, Laura pioneered the creation of a medical co-response program for the Bezanson community. Her leadership significantly reduced emergency response times, providing crucial pre-hospital care for the injured and sick.
  • Support for 4H Programs: Since 2009, Laura has actively supported local 4H programs through public speaking, judging, and hosting club activities, recognizing the importance of nurturing youth in agriculture.
  • Regional EMS Foundation: As Executive Director from 2010 to 2015, Laura led initiatives to install AEDs in schools and workplaces and conducted a successful capital campaign for a mobile human patient simulator, enhancing practitioner training across the North Zone.
  • QEII Hospital Foundation: Serving as Senior Development Manager from 2015 to 2016, Laura contributed to the early stages of the Key to Care capital campaign, supporting the construction of a new hospital in the region.
  • Capital Campaign Manager, Bezanson Ag. Society: From 2016 to 2018, Laura managed a $4.6 million capital campaign for the Bezanson Ag. Society, resulting in the construction of a 16,000 square foot expansion on a regional recreation center, fostering community engagement and vitality.
  • Community Skating Rink: In 2018, Laura fundraised for the implementation of a 3-phase construction project for an outdoor skating rink, providing a cherished recreational space for youth and families in the community.
  • Grande Prairie Public School Division Education Foundation: As Executive Director from 2016 to 2020, Laura collaborated with the community to address gaps in education across 18 public schools, ensuring all students had access to necessary resources and opportunities for success.
  • 2024 Alberta Winter Games Society: Serving as Director of Protocol/Executive Committee from 2021 to 2024, Laura played a key role in organizing and managing various aspects of the Games, showcasing the region's hospitality and organizational prowess.
  • Northwestern Alberta Foundation: Since 2020, Laura has served as CEO, leading efforts to connect donors with impactful causes, manage community grants, and foster social innovation across the vast region, supporting community organizations through board development.
  • Grande Prairie and District Chamber of Commerce: Currently serving as Director, Laura represents the business community and leverages her non-profit leadership experience to strengthen the local economy through collaboration and collective effort.

Laura reflects on several memorable and rewarding experiences stemming from her community involvement. "I was incredibly honored to work on the Bezanson Community Centre expansion," she shares. "It was rewarding to see my kids and their teammates play in that center, and the community enjoyed so many great functions there. It truly is the hub of Bezanson and is what will keep our small community thriving."

Transitioning to her role as CEO at the Northwestern Alberta Foundation (NAF) in April 2020 presented unique challenges, particularly amidst the onset of the pandemic. Laura recalls, "I couldn’t receive much training or even be in the same room as my new team." Despite facing unprecedented circumstances and the constraints of remote work, Laura and her team swiftly mobilized to distribute over a million dollars in federal support to vulnerable populations across the region. "We had to get committed and establish our new teamwork so quickly, as the needs were substantial," she explains. "This was one of the hardest times in my life, but I am so proud of being able to lean on my experience, trusted teammates, and good instincts to do this important work." Despite the daunting nature of the task, Laura's experience, alongside her team's dedication and instincts, guided them through the process. This period, while undoubtedly challenging, stands as a testament to the resilience and efficacy of NAF's efforts. Laura finds immense satisfaction in knowing that their work made a true difference in communities' lives, a sentiment echoed in the countless success stories that emerged.

In recognizing the challenges that come with these types of endeavours, Laura remarks, “I keep in mind what a difference a day can make. The problem I had yesterday can be gone the next day!” she continues, “And ultimately, our community is full of amazing people. Generosity is alive and well! I try to let that motivate and ground me.”

Currently, Laura is deeply involved in several impactful initiatives, many of which are yet to be unveiled to the public. At Northwestern Alberta Foundation (NAF), she spearheads various exciting projects, with upcoming partnership announcements on the horizon. One such initiative is the Rooted in Community Regional Tour, made possible through a collaboration with ONSITE3D. This tour takes them through diverse communities across northwestern Alberta, providing unrestricted funding to address local needs. Laura emphasizes the importance of direct community engagement, stating, "It is important to NAF to be responsive to communities, and I believe the only way we can do that is to actually show up in these awesome communities, learn about their challenges and victories, and make the valuable connections that create trust." In 2023, they visited 10 communities, with plans to expand to 20 in 2024. Moreover, Laura played a pivotal role in supporting communities affected by the May 2023 wildfires. Collaborating with GPREP, NAF initiated the Northwestern Alberta Emergency Fund, raising $365,000 through widespread social media outreach and community connections. These funds have been allocated to aid five municipalities and four Indigenous communities in their recovery efforts and to enhance resilience for any future emergencies. Furthermore, demonstrating their commitment to solidarity, NAF extended support to the Yellowknife Community Foundation to assist communities affected by wildfires in the Northwest Territories. Through her leadership and dedication, Laura continues to make a profound impact on the region, fostering resilience and community well-being.

Laura's journey is not only defined by her remarkable community contributions but also by her roles as a devoted mother, wife, and member of a close-knit family. She speaks fondly of her proudest accomplishments, raising her three children, Mason, Carter, and Sierra. Reflecting on motherhood, Laura acknowledges it as the most significant human experiment, highlighting the personal growth it has brought her. Alongside her husband Tyler, Laura operates a bison ranch, underscoring her deep-rooted connection to agriculture and family. She credits her parents as her biggest cheerleaders, instilling in her the confidence to pursue her passions. Beyond her professional endeavors, Laura finds solace in outdoor activities like backpacking, camping, and fishing, cherishing moments spent exploring nature and engaging in meaningful conversations. As she continues to make a difference in her community and beyond, Laura LaValley's multifaceted journey serves as an inspiration to all who encounter her story.

Reflecting on her own journey, Laura emphasizes the significance of trust, stating, "Trust is earned in drops and lost in buckets." She underscores the importance of integrity, honesty, and accountability, noting that trust forms the foundation for successful teamwork and community involvement.

Offering advice to aspiring changemakers, Laura advocates for faith over fear, asserting, "Believe in what you are trying to accomplish, and most of all the why behind what you are doing." She stresses the value of collaboration and diversity of perspectives, remarking, "We have the most impact when we are open to collective success." Laura also highlights the importance of adaptability and listening to community feedback, stating, "Listen to your community, your team, and your gut."

In her continuation of creating changes for the region, Laura describes herself as a perpetual learner, stating, "I try to be open-minded and glean something from every learning experience." She emphasizes the importance of personal growth and collaboration, noting, "During difficult times in my life, getting outside myself and working on something that is bigger than me has helped me stay grounded."

Addressing future generations of women, Laura encourages them to embrace possibilities, prioritize self-love, and cultivate environments of trust. She remarks, “Don’t be afraid to see a need and create a solution!  Love yourself so you have the capacity to love others. Be intent about learning, however you do that best. Create an environment of trust in all that you do.” Through her advocacy and actions, Laura continues to inspire others and leave a lasting legacy of positive change.


Northwestern Alberta Foundation

Grande Prairie and District Chamber of Commerce



To learn more about 30 Women for 30 Years or to nominate a woman who you think has made an impact in the Peace Region, click here.