» » Spotlight on Staff Member Valerie Sagan Overlan

Spotlight on Staff Member Valerie Sagan Overlan

photo of Valerie Sagan OverlanQ: How long have you been at the College of Education? What is your position here?

A: I am the Director of Development and Advancement, and I have been here since September 2009. I grew up here. My dad was dean of the College of Education here three times! I had also previously worked in development/fundraising for Rochester’s public broadcasting TV station and for the University of Rochester. I feel very comfortable here, especially working with some of the faculty whom I have known for many, many years.

Q: What else did you do while in Rochester?

A: I lived in Rochester, N.Y., with my husband, John, my two sons, Kyle (19) and Erik (16), and my rescue Huskey mix, Dasha. I worked for the 10 years prior to relocating here as a teaching assistant in the Brighton Central School District with children with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. For three of those years, I worked in the middle school library. I also coached the middle school cross country team, painted summer theater sets, created a small business providing pen and ink drawings of homes for Rochester realtors, and for 12 years, wrote a national TV show for PBS.

Q: What national TV show did you write? Did you always plan to work in public broadcasting?

A: I wrote Assignment: The World, a world news/current events program used in 4th through 8th grade classrooms in 47 states (Kentucky was not one of them because KET produced its own similar program). I wrote the script for 12 years, which included world news stories, quizzes, issue questions and a weekly feature story. We taped the show weekly in the WXXI-TV studios in Rochester, N.Y., with local class field trips as our studio audience. It took me about four hours each Monday evening to write the 30-minute program, in addition to my research. I used to receive UPI and AP news feeds, read about five newspapers each day and watch world news programs all week. I started at PBS in Rochester as a membership data entry clerk right out of college. I moved on to other positions in the membership department there, and into management after a year as the Director of Membership for WXXI-TV. I have always credited getting that first job in PBS with my internship at KET as a communications student at UK.

Q: What is the Primate Rescue Center and how did you get involved with it?

A: I started working at the Primate Rescue Center in Nicholasville, Ky., in March 2010. I work every Saturday, from 9 a.m., until we finish for the day, usually after 5 p.m. The center was founded by a Nicholasville couple back in 1987 as a rescue site for primates who were living in research and entertainment conditions, or for families who purchased the animals when they were young and quickly discovered they were not appropriate as pets. Today, the center is home to over 40 monkeys, 11 chimpanzees, a baboon and a Siamang Gibbon, plus a pygmy goat, a burrow, many peacocks, and Tigger, the dog. As a volunteer, I am not permitted to have any physical contact with the animals, but I am able to enjoy interacting with them from a safe distance. My tasks when there include chopping fruits and vegetables for the primates, making their daily meal, cleaning animal enclosures, seasonal gardening and grounds work, and sorting donated produce from local grocery stores. The PRC employs four full-time caretakers who work directly with the primates. The PRC is not open to the public in order to maintain the sanctuary for the residents. The monkeys are adorable, and fun to watch, but my favorites are the 11 adult chimps, with whom I play hide and seek, run “races” along the outdoor enclosure fencing, and just enjoy watching play together in their beautiful, peaceful Kentucky home. To learn more about the Primate Rescue Center, and to donate, please visit their website at www.primaterescue.org.

drawing Hunt Hollow VillageQ: How did you get started in pen and ink drawing?

A: I started a pen and ink business as a way to earn some extra money working from home in the evenings and weekends. Word of mouth quickly spread, and I was filling orders for friends and teachers I worked with at the middle school in Rochester, N.Y. I approached a few realtors and ended up partnering with two providing them with matted pen and ink renderings of homes as thank you gifts for their clients. I also made sets of note cards of the homes for the homeowners. I never had any professional art instruction, but have always appreciated the architecture of buildings and homes, and love drawing them on quality paper. The venture was so successful that I was about to launch a website for my business when I took the job here in the College of Education.