Valerie Faden is a Pennsylvania attorney who’s used to talking through big problems. She’s made a career from mediation, and she’s bringing that know-how to her first term on the Millville Town Council.
Faden joined the council after an unopposed March election for two seats — one left vacant when former mayor Gerald “Gerry” Hocker Jr. resigned after moving out of town and the other retained unopposed by incumbent Steve Maneri.
“I think I have really strong analytic skills. I’m good at analyzing a problem and brainstorming with folks to find a collaborative solution,” said Faden, who has her own solo law practice. “I always want to look outside the box and find a way to make it work.”
Her early career was in human services and social work.
“I always felt it was important to give back to the community,” said Faden, formerly a candy-striper and community development block grant (CDBG) volunteer.
Before Delaware, she lived in small-town Pennsylvania, since about 1978. Like many people, Faden first experienced coastal Delaware during beach vacations. Eventually, her annual visits became longer, until she found the perfect property to buy, in Millville in the winter of 2014-2015.
“We like the small-town feel of Bethany,” Faden said. “It’s nice to be close enough to have the metropolitan kind of things that you would want, like Ocean City and Rehoboth, but still the small-town feel of Bethany.”
She joined Millville Board of Adjustment in July of 2015, bringing zoning board experience from a Pennsylvania township.
Faden is used to talking though a problem, with her background in mediation. Faden said she considers herself “seasoned” in the area of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). That’s a way for people or companies to solve disputes without completely turning to a judge and jury.
She’s served on professional and volunteer mediation boards and centers in Pennsylvania, including leadership groups, such as the board of Pennsylvania Council of Mediators and a Pennsylvania Joint-State Government Commission Task Force on ADR.
She’s also practiced collaborative law, much like mediation, in which attorneys work together to handle issues such as divorce or custody.
She also earned a project-management certification though Project Management Institute (PMI). As in Lewisburg, a medical center did a lot of projects for process improvement. That involves a study, planning and then action.
For example, she studied medical care, such as chronic disease management, which might involve reaching out to patients to remind them of follow-up appointments or making sure staff applied correct services to the patient at the appropriate time.
“When I left, we were just looking at ways to transition from hospital to nursing home, to improve quality of care and speed up recovery time,” Faden explained.
“I’ve volunteered through my lifetime in different communities,” she noted.
In volunteering locally with the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, Faden helped with the “amazing” process of students creating a mural, in between her own hurriedly washing paintbrushes and replenishing the paints.
And when she’s not working, she loves cooking.
“Cooking is my passion,” said the woman who owns more than 250 cookbooks. “My friends like to challenge me by taking me to a restaurant and asking me to re-create a meal at home.”
She’s won taste tests and enjoys any type of cuisine.
“I love to entertain and feed people, and see happy faces at the table,” Faden said.
Environmental issues, including recycling, are close to Faden’s heart, and she knows Town Manager Debbie Botchie is working to bring a Delaware State Police outpost to Millville. Otherwise, she said she doesn’t have a particular agenda on her plate.
“We’re new — myself and [Councilman] Steve Small — so we’re just really learning what the issues are for the Town and how we can be of service,” Faden said.
Citizens can contact any council member through Millville Town Hall at www.millville.delaware.gov or (302) 539-0449.
“I am going to try to do the best I can for the Town, to keep it a beautiful place to live,” Faden said. “I definitely welcome and comments, concerns, suggestions about Millville from the folks who live here.”