Born in a two-room, wooden framed home in Jacksonville, Val Demings was the youngest of seven children. Her parents, Elouise, a maid, and James, a janitor, did all they could to support their seven children and instill in them the meaning of hard work.
Val took these lessons seriously, getting her first job at age 14, and became the first in her family to graduate from college. With her parents proudly at her side, she received a B.S. in Criminology from Florida State University.
Val Demings rose from these humble beginnings to live the American dream. She’s running for Congress to make sure people in Florida’s 10th District have the same opportunity.
Val began her career in Jacksonville as a social worker, working with foster children. Despite seeing few women in the ranks of law enforcement in the early 1980’s, Val was inspired to move to Orlando to join the police force. She graduated from the police academy as class president, receiving the Board of Trustees’ Award for Overall Excellence, and quickly earned the reputation of a tenacious, no-nonsense cop.
It was that reputation that helped her work her way up the ranks while raising a family. During her 27-year career she served in virtually every department, including serving as Commander of the Special Operations, where she was responsible for some of Orlando’s highest profile tasks, including special events and dignitary protection.
In 2007, Val Demings made history when she was appointed to serve as Orlando’s first female Chief of Police.
As Orlando’s Chief of Police, Val was widely praised for her dynamic leadership and a significant drop in crime. Val shepherded the department through the financial crisis and despite budgetary constraints kept the same number of officers on the streets. Remarkably, the Orlando Police Department reduced violent crime by more than 40 percent while she was Chief.
Chief Demings founded innovative programs like Operation Positive Direction, a mentoring program that empowers at-risk students through tutoring, community service, and positive incentives. She also launched Operation Free Palms, a project focusing on rejuvenating Orlando's most crime-ridden housing complex, the Palms Apartments. Collaborating with city officials and faith leaders, this initiative included increasing access to childcare, building playgrounds, a GED program, and job skills training to improve the quality of life in Orlando’s most distressed community.
In 2012, Val went up against the Tea Party and narrowly lost to incumbent Congressman Daniel Webster by only three and a half percent in a gerrymandered district. In the newly redistricted CD 10, Chief Demings is the clear front runner to take this seat from red-to-blue.
Val is eager to continue her record of public service as the next Member of Congress representing the people of the 10th District of Florida.
Val is an active member of her church, volunteering regularly in the community. She resides in Orlando with her husband, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, and enjoys spending time with her three sons and grandchildren. On a gorgeous Florida day you might be able to catch her riding her Harley around District 10.