The Early Years
A Childhood Saved by Community
Vallie grew up in poverty and lost her parents early. Her father passed away when she was one year old. 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.
Her grandmother passed away when she was 12 years old. 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 and communications 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 taught art at the Hunters Point Boys & Girls Club. Her classes were so successful she was recruited to bring art and dance programs to schools in Hunters Point and Visitacion Valley. She saw kids and parents getting sick and 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 26 years and 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, 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 2004, Vallie founded the Lower Haight Neighborhood Association and worked with neighbors to form the Lower Haight Merchants & Neighbors 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.