Valarie Kaur

Position / Title: 
Non-Residential Fellow

Valarie Kaur is a Non-Residential Fellow at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. She is a lawyer, documentary filmmaker, and interfaith organizer who helps communities tell their stories and organize for social change. She has made award-winning films and led multimedia campaigns on civil rights issues: hate crimes, racial profiling, gun violence, marriage equality, immigration detention, and solitary confinement. Speaking on law, religion and politics, Valarie is a regular television commentator on MSNBC and opinion contributor to CNN, NPR, PBS, the Washington Post, and the Huffington Post. She founded Groundswell Movement of 100,000+ members, the nation’s largest multifaith online organizing community known for “dynamically strengthening faith-based organizing in the 21st century.” She also founded the Yale Visual Law Project at Yale Law School, where she has trained future lawyers to use film and media to create policy change. Now a Senior Fellow at Auburn Seminary, Valarie serves as a national Sikh voice and teaches on movement-building for students, organizers, and faith groups. She works with the U.S. State Department to bring these tools to activists around the world, most recently traveling and teaching throughout Myanmar.

Valarie has been named “a standout figure in the world of interfaith organizing and activism” and one of eight Asian American “Women of Influence.” The Center for American Progress has named her among 13 national faith leaders to watch. A prolific public speaker on university and college campuses, she is the youngest to deliver the Baccalaureate commencement address at Stanford University. Valarie recently received the alumni award from Stanford University’s Asian American Center. Now returning to Stanford, she will focus on building the movement for net neutrality, mobilizing the public to keep the Internet free, open, and democratic.

Valarie received her Bachelor’s Degrees in Religious Studies and International Relations at Stanford University, a Master’s Degree in Theological Studies at Harvard Divinity School, and J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was a Knight Law and Media Scholar and then Visiting Fellow at the Information Society Project. While at Yale, she clerked on the Senate Judiciary Committee, traveled to Guantanamo to report on the military commissions, and filed a landmark immigration lawsuit with her clinic team. Her films include Divided We Fall (2008), Alienation (2011), Stigma (2011), The Worst of the Worst: Portrait of a Supermax (2012), and Oak Creek: In Memorium (2013).

Valarie lives and works with her filmmaking partner and husband Sharat in Los Angeles, where she enjoys dancing, chocolate, and walking along the sea with their dog Shadi. She believes that "the way we make change is just as important as the change we make."