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Donna Valter doesn’t just consider herself a retiree. She considers herself a “lifelong learner”. After retiring from a successful career of 31 years with Pfizer, she now enjoys having more time to discover, learn and try new things.
“I feel very fortunate to have had a long career with a company like Pfizer,” says Donna. “I grew up with the company, starting my career in 1982, and growing from there.” She never expected to stay over 30 years with the same company, but opportunities for growth, strong mentors and great colleagues held her loyalty. She retired as Senior Director, Operations & Strategy in Vaccines Research.
Three Decades of Dedication
Over the course of her career, she worked in financial reporting, clinical grant administration, system development, process improvement, document management and strategic planning. Donna was an integral part of Vaccine Research integration team during the Wyeth/Pfizer acquisition, with a focus on financial planning and budgetary controls, resource and capacity analysis, document management and organizational integration. She had cross-site leadership responsibilities and travelled between sites regularly.
Donna was especially proud to be a part of the team that worked on Prevnar 13, the company’s pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine. In her role, she established a best practice records management process ensuring that all research documents and records were managed in a compliant way and in accordance with Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) requirements. “My team did any exceptional job and made a significant contribution to the licensing of a vaccine that has made a major contribution to world health.”
Working in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, gave her the chance to work with a diverse group of colleagues. “I enjoyed my work, but it was really the people that made all the difference,” says Donna. “The people you work alongside each day become your second family.”
She found her career very fulfilling, but is now happy to focus her time and effort on her personal life and interests, things she always wished she had more time for.
On the Go
Donna’s watercolor storyboard for her 60-day trip.
Much of her time is spent traveling and exploring with her husband. They both bought bikes and love to spend their days finding new places to picnic, hike, and enjoy the fresh air.
They enjoy every moment of the traveling they do. “We pick a place and date to start a new journey and sometimes it can last a day or maybe even months. Our time is our own!”
Donna and her husband recently did a 60-day trip for her 60th birthday, in which they traveled around the U.S. They went bar-hopping in Nashville, sightseeing in San Francisco, relaxed on beaches in Hawaii, took a river cruise in Oregon, explored the Pacific Coast, and stood among the “giants” in the Redwood Forest. During this trip of a lifetime they stepped out of their comfort zones for some adventures like zip lining, and made time to just relax and enjoy the view.
“Gullah dolls represent the strength of the women in your life, past or present, who inspire you, rejoice with you and who are willing to close ranks and lift you up when you fall. Their shadowy figure and colorful dress celebrates the unconditional love that bonds us all together and reminds us that we are never alone.” — Donna
When she’s not on an adventure, Donna never has idle hands and loves to keep her mind moving. She enrolled in several “Lifelong Learning” courses and focused on some exciting art classes. “I get to use the ‘right side’ of my brain now, which has helped me find balance to all those years of logical thinking and calculations,” says Donna. “I met some amazing people with common interests and discovered my artistic side.” She now enjoys a refreshed enthusiasm for photography, and has become very passionate for painting and doll making.
She painted a watercolor storyboard for the 60-day trip she and her husband took, creating a scene from each place they visited. Her unusual and antique doll collection, which she’s had for as long as she can remember, inspired her to take a class and try her hand at creating her own dolls. The instructor was a young woman who inspired her Gullah doll collection. “Each doll I create is made with a specific woman in mind and I incorporate personal elements like a scarf or brooch and include a personal message with it,” says Donna.
Most importantly, she’s now able to play catch up with family and friends and dedicate more time to wonderful major life events, like weddings and her first grandchild. “Someone once said to me that the best gift you can receive is the gift of time and I have found that to be an absolute truth.”