The UCF community is remembering Valarie King, a leader of diversity and inclusivity initiatives, who passed away Feb. 26. She had a 24-year career at UCF.

King, who designed the faculty and staff Leadership Empowerment Program and was the Office of Diversity Initiatives director until retiring in 2013, passed away after fighting cancer. She was 70.

The community is invited to celebrate her life at a March 12 funeral service at 3 p.m. at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Oviedo. In lieu of flowers, the family asks instead for donations to the Dr. Valarie Greene King Memorial Fund that’s been established through the UCF Foundation. The fund will help support the Leadership Empowerment Program that’s sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

King began working at UCF in 1989. She was a counseling psychologist at Counseling and Psychological Services and the interim director of Multicultural Student Services before becoming director of the Office of Diversity Initiatives. She created the UCF Community Veterans History Project through a partnership between UCF and the Library of Congress, and was recognized by the UCF Center for Success of Women Faculty for her contributions in making UCF a more inclusive campus, among many other recognitions.

“Valarie was nationally recognized as a leader in designing innovative programs to further inclusivity in higher education,” said Rick Schell, vice president and chief of staff at UCF. “The Leadership Empowerment Program she began at UCF has been emulated at other schools.”

Outside of work, King enjoyed traveling and learning about different cultures. She visited Africa in the 1970s to explore her African roots, and enjoyed collecting African American-inspired art, said Michael McLaughlin, King’s nephew and associate director of advancement in the UCF College of Engineering & Computer Science. King also traveled to Europe where, with family, she enjoyed a cuisine-centric tour through France, Italy and Germany, McLaughlin said.

King was born in Hawthorne, Fla., and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Spelman College, a Master of Education in counselor education from North Carolina Central University, and a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from American University.

“My aunt Valarie was a trailblazer and fighter who was passionate about equality for all of us,” McLaughlin said. “She loved her family and also did anything she could to help others in their time of need. My family and I have appreciated the memories and kind words shared with us about her.”