Valerie believes that public service is a calling and that government at all levels plays an important role in the lives of everyday people. Her work as a legislator focused on connecting education, government, business and the social safety net to serve the needs of all the residents of her community.
Valerie championed the issues that people care about ranging from local investment in attracting and retaining good paying jobs for residents, fighting for more public transportation options, addressing food insecurity issues, closing the Achievement Gap and many other local neighborhood and civic issues that people in her community are passionate about.
Prior to serving as an elected school board member and County Council member, Valerie was a long -time parent activist and a founding member of both the Montgomery County Education Forum and Blacks United for Excellence in Education. These organizations focused on equity and excellence for all students and were the spark that ignited Valerie’s advocacy and path to elected office.
Valerie made local history by becoming the first African American woman to serve on the County Council. She made her mark as a problem-solver. She is known for pushing the envelope. She found inventive strategies and solutions for addressing institutional and structural barriers which tended to stifle the ability to move innovation forward. Valerie also served as Council President during the height of the recession. Trying times revealed her true mettle; a strong and independent voice who collaborated with her colleagues and partnered with the most challenged segments of the community to develop a plan of action. She shepherded the Council through tough times, and together passed a budget and fiscal plan that put people first and placed the County on the road to recovery.
Most recently, Valerie was the Executive Director of the Center for Working Families, and then it’s regional director and Senior Adviser. She left the organization in 2018 to join Kevin Kamenetz on his ticket for Lt. Governor. After Kevin’s untimely passing, she went on to run for Governor of Maryland on a strong education platform to lead the state in its return to the #1 school system in the nation. Today, Valerie works at the Prince Georges County Public Schools as a Special Assistant in the Office of the Chief of Staff. She has come back home to her roots in public school policy and advocacy. In her role at the Prince Georges County Public School system, she works both internally and externally with labor organizations, local government officials and community stakeholders to build and maintain relationships to further the school system’s objectives.
Valerie has received numerous awards and recognition for her public service including: Commencement Speaker, Montgomery College graduation, 2014; Associate of Arts in Public Service Honorary Degree, Montgomery College, 2014; Inducted into the Women’s History Archives, Montgomery County Commission for Women, 2013; Appointed by Governor Martin O’Malley, Chesapeake Bay Trust Board of Directors, 2008-2012; Washingtonian Magazine’s Most Powerful Women Award, 2011; Maryland’s Top 100 Women, 2008 and 2012.
Valerie holds a degree in Labor Studies and an M.P.A. from the University of Baltimore. Valerie resides in Silver Spring, Maryland. She has two sons and four grandchildren.