An educator and attorney for 30 years, Valerie J. Gross holds a Master of Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, a Master of Library Science from San Jose State University, and a law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law. She is a member of the ALA, PLA, MLA, and the California Bar Association. Developing a new vision for libraries, Gross worked with the Howard County Library System Board and staff members, local government, and the community to implement the “Libraries = Education" approach. She led the transformation of HCLS to its current prominence as a renowned educational institution, alongside the region’s schools, colleges, and universities. Gross has delivered 80+ keynotes, workshops, seminars, and webinars on "Libraries = Education," drawing the participation and input of thousands of library professionals from 46 states and more than a dozen countries around the world. Combining these experiences, she authored Transforming Our Image, Building Our Brand: The Education Advantage (ABC-CLIO, 2013). For living this game-changing vision, HCLS received Library Journal's prestigious Library of the Year award from among North America's 21,000 public and academic libraries. The publication hailed the “Libraries = Education” equation “a 21st-century model worthy of study and consideration by every library in America, if not the world.” (Library Journal, June 2013) In addition to leading HCLS to Library of the Year, Gross was honored by the Daily Record as a 2015 Innovator or the Year, and by the Baltimore Sun as one of “50 Women to Watch: The most intriguing, powerful, and memorable personalities making an impact on the Baltimore region.” She received the Public Libraries Best Feature Article Award in 2012 and 2010, and was honored as a Library Journal Mover and Shaker in 2004.