Meet Valerie

Valerie Ervin has spent her life in service to others. She has been a union member since she was 16, and began her career in grassroots activism as an organizer with United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), where she fought to ensure that working people knew their rights in the workplace and received appropriate benefits.

Valerie’s two sons attended Montgomery County Public Schools and she became a parent activist because of her concern for the education of all children. An active PTSA member and a founding member of both the Montgomery County Education Forum and Blacks United for Excellence in Education, Valerie was encouraged by parents across Montgomery County to run for the Board of Education and became the second African American woman to ever serve.

While Valerie was serving on the Board of Education, Tom Perez announced his intention to leave his seat on the Montgomery County Council and encouraged Valerie to run. In 2006 she became the first African American woman to serve on the Council. For seven years, Valerie represented District 5, which includes Silver Spring, Kensington, Takoma Park and Wheaton, and was elected president of the Council in 2011.

During her time on the Council, Valerie worked to promote the interests of working families by:

  • Serving as a key advocate to raise Montgomery County’s minimum wage.
  • Leading efforts to pass prevailing wage and displaced worker legislation that provides needed financial security for workers.
  • Creating the first county-wide food recovery network in the nation to redistribute food which would otherwise be wasted to area food banks and nonprofit organizations to feed the hungry.
  • Broadening whistleblower protections to prevent retaliation against employees who report fraud, waste, and abuse to ensure taxpayer funds were spent efficiently and wisely.

As a former Montgomery County School Board member, Valerie has been a vocal advocate on youth issues by:

  • Dismantling barriers to child care subsidies to provide quality child care and to enable parents to return to work.
  • Expanding access to preschool programming across Montgomery County and advocating for universal preschool opportunities for all Montgomery County residents.
  • Proposing and implementing the Kennedy Cluster Project, a collaborative effort to find innovative solutions to close the achievement gap.
  • Initiating a county-wide Summer Food Program.

Throughout her career in public service, Valerie has encouraged environmental stewardship and been a dedicated advocate for mass transit by:

  • Ensuring smart growth policies were followed during the development of the Purple Line to protect the residential character of neighborhoods while preserving the environment.
  • Serving as the driving force behind bringing the popular bike-share program to Montgomery County.
  • Initiating countywide community gardens.

After nearly a decade of service as an elected official in Montgomery County, Valerie was named executive director of the Center for Working Families, and most recently served as senior adviser for the Working Families Party, where she helped direct the progressive coalition’s efforts to expand economic and educational opportunities for families across the country.

Ervin has received many awards for her public service including: Washingtonian Magazine’s Most Powerful Women Award in 2011; Maryland’s Top 100 Women from the Daily Record in 2008 and 2012; Phyllis Campbell Newsome Public Policy Leadership Award from the Center for Nonprofit Advancement in 2008 and 2013; and the Phenomenal Woman of the Year Award from Community Bridges in 2007.

She holds a degree in labor studies and an M.P.A. from University of Baltimore.

Valerie currently resides in Silver Spring, Maryland, where she raised her two children, Solomon and Jonathan.