Valerie van Heest is an underwater explorer, award-winning author, and a partner in the museum exhibit design firm Lafferty van Heest & Associates in Holland, Michigan. She also serves as the president of the Michigan Shipwreck Research Association, where she has spearheaded the discovery of 20 shipwrecks off West Michigan and has directed the archeological investigations of over 50 shipwrecks, producing site drawings, articles, documentary films, and museum exhibits, as well as writing six books, many of which won literary awards. Her work earned her a spot in the Women Divers Hall of Fame, and led to her appearances on episodes of National Geographic, Science, Travel, and History Channels’ television series and coverage in countless print, television, and radio news stories. She is a regular guest speaker sharing the stories of her adventures and discoveries in ways that educate, entertain, and inspire.

The Historical Society of Michigan honored Valerie with a State History Award in 2007 for her efforts in preserving and promoting Michigan’s maritime history, and in 2017 she received the Joyce C. Hayward Award for Historical Interpretation from the Association for Great Lakes Maritime History recognizing her significant contributions to the interpretation of Great Lakes maritime history.

Exploring Great Lakes Shipwrecks

Interpreting the past for the present


Writing Books and Articles

Read Valerie’s award-winning books

HomeBookFatalCrossing HomeBookUnsolved HomeBookLostFound HomeBookBuckets
HomeBookLadyElgin HomeBookIcebound

Sharing Her Adventures

Home-Speaking-FullLength Schedule a Program
at your conference of your museum, library, senior center, church or club.

Designing Museum Exhibits

Whether a maritime or other topics, Valerie’s firms provides full service curatorial, design, fabrication, and installation services.