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.

Vallie (center) in SF in 1988.

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.

“I’ve been that kid in a struggling single parent family who can’t afford rent, that teen with what seems like nobody left, that struggling artist. I’ve also seen what a community can do when we pull together.”

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, and 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.

In 2008, Vallie worked with the City to bring employment opportunities to low-income residents in the Lower Haight during the economic downturn.

Throughout her 20 years of neighborhood activism and leadership, our community’s progressive values have driven Vallie’s mission to serve those who need a voice.

“I believe in vibrant neighborhoods that nurture diversity and community for all. I’ve fought for this my whole life.”

Public Service

Advocating for Neighborhoods in City Hall

In 2007, because of Vallie’s effective advocacy in the community, the District 5 Supervisor recruited Vallie to work in his Supervisorial office. There, Vallie took a creative, problem-solving approach to solve challenges, like passing the nation’s first plastic bag ban, creating CleanPowerSF to give local residents access to renewable energy, and creating the first parklet and the first neighborhood farmers’ markets in the City.

In 2013, the next District 5 Supervisor, London Breed, asked Vallie to become her Legislative Aide. Here, Vallie helped write and pass landmark neighborhood preference legislation to secure affordable housing for local residents. And her personal experience of seeing friends and neighbors priced out of San Francisco led Vallie to pursue further efforts to build affordable housing through the Office of Workforce and Economic Development.

Throughout her 12 years as a City Hall aide and project manager, Vallie never lost the passion or mindset of a grassroots activist. When people tell her something can’t be done, she gets even more determined to find a creative solution to make it reality.

Vallie’s inauguration in 2018 with Mayor London Breed.

Our Supervisor

Vallie Brown

Vallie never thought she would serve in public office. In 2018, when London Breed became Mayor, she asked Vallie to serve as our District 5 Supervisor. Vallie knew that in this role she could do the most good for the most people, so she eagerly accepted and is honored to serve. She also believed by bringing a neighborhood activist outlook to City Hall, she could provide a unique and important perspective.

In the year since, Vallie has developed a reputation as one of our most accessible, creative, hardest working Supervisors.

Vallie is already finding creative, collaborative, progressive solutions for our neighborhoods on issues like homelessness, economic justice, affordable housing, sustainability, and neighborhood quality of life issues. And the work is personal. The past struggles of Vallie’s own friends and family are never far from her mind.

“Today, with major challenges around housing and homelessness impacting our city, leaders in government need to take an on the ground activist approach to make progress block by block. That’s exactly what I’m doing as your Supervisor.”