The Early Years
A Childhood Saved by Community
Vallie grew up in poverty and lost her parents early. Her father, a member of Native American tribes in Utah, died when she was 1. Vallie was raised by her mom and grandma. Her mom worked odd jobs, they were always moving, and they often didn’t have a stable place to live.
When she was 12, Vallie lost her grandma. Then Vallie’s mom got sick. Unable to afford healthcare, she soon passed away. Vallie was just 14 years old. Luckily, Vallie’s community came together to raise her and keep her out of foster care. That’s why she feels strongly about community and helping others.
Vallie went on to study art at the University of Utah.
Art and Early Activism
A Real San Francisco Story
In 1985, when Vallie was in her 20’s, she moved to San Francisco, living in artist warehouses in SOMA, where she found a community.
She then started an art program at the Hunters Point Boys & Girls Club. She saw environmental issues were causing kids and their parents to get sick, with higher rates of asthma and breast cancer. Vallie teamed up with others to fight for change as an environmental activist, and they were able to raise awareness of those environmental hazards as they fought to protect neighbors in Hunters Point from pollution.
Vallie was here for the peak of the AIDS crisis, losing too many friends. She did everything she could to advocate for them, fighting for better public health services and passing out clean needles at needle exchanges.
During her early years here, Vallie struggled to pay rent, and was evicted more than once. Eventually, Vallie and her friends pooled money together to buy a small Victorian as a tenancy in common in the Lower Haight. Lacking a proper roof, the house was more than a little run down, but they made it work. It didn’t take long after moving to the Lower Haight for Vallie to get involved in her community. She started at the street level, cleaning up her block and helping neighbors.
Vallie’s lived in this district for the 30 years since. San Francisco’s been through a lot, and Vallie’s been right here through it all too.
District 5 Neighborhood Activist
Two Decades Fighting for Those Who Need a Voice
Vallie organized neighbors to stop the violence that was ravaging the Lower Haight, rallied parents to keep John Muir Elementary School open in the Western Addition. Later she led several nonprofits focused on education and environmental activism.
In 2002, Vallie founded the Lower Haight Neighborhood Association and worked with merchants to form the Lower Haight Merchants Association. In these roles, she fought for social justice in schools and public housing, cleaned up local business districts, planted trees, brought parklets to our neighborhoods, and helped bring more beat cops to the Lower Haight. Working with her fellow neighborhood activists, Vallie later co-founded LoHAMNA which brings together residents and merchants in the Lower Haight.