She is the First African American woman to hold the position of Vice President of Montgomery County Council, she has made history, she is a great role model for women in the United States today. The Pageant Management is very happy to announce the 2010 Chair Lady of Miss Africa USA Scholarship Pageant. It is our hope that her achievements and life experience will inspire all young women to have high aspirations and shoot for the best in life. We are very honored to have as our Chair Lady for the pageant this year Council Woman Valerie Ervin, Vice President of Montgomery County Council.

Montgomery County Council member Valerie Ervin represents District 5, which includes Kensington, Silver Spring, Takoma Park and Wheaton. Ervin is chairperson of the Council’s Education Committee, which reviews more than half of Montgomery County’s operating budget. In addition, she serves on the Management and Fiscal Policy Committee, which conducts budget reviews and program oversight for various county departments and offices.

As an advocate for the interests of working families and improving the lives of children, Ervin has pushed Montgomery County to the forefront of the universal preschool movement. As a result of her work, the Council created the Universal Preschool Implementation Work Group to determine how the county will implement the state’s recommendation that universal preschool should be provided to all 4-year-old children by 2014. In addition, Ervin has advanced additional funding for preschool programs to increase the number of children served in community-based programs.

An Advocate for Children & Families

Councilmember Ervin is committed to making sure that children have proper nutrition by promoting the summer food program and expanding access to universal breakfast. Her leadership on this issue resulted in a 30 percent increase in the number of needy children eating lunch during the summer months. Councilmember Ervin has spearheaded cross-cutting efforts to close the achievement gap by working with the county executive, president of the school board and the superintendent of schools to create the Kennedy Cluster Project. The goal of this project is to identify and address the underlying causes of the achievement gap and to get government departments and schools to work collaboratively to provide a safety net for children.

Elected in 2006, Councilmember Ervin is the first African American woman to serve on the Council. Ervin did not take a traditional path to public service. She grew up in a military family and lived on several military bases throughout the world, but eventually made Montgomery County her home. Ervin got her start in grass roots activism as a union organizer. In this capacity, she fought to ensure that working parents knew about their rights in the workplace and that they received appropriate benefits.

A Background in Education

Councilmember Ervin’s roots in education policy first took hold as a parent volunteer and member of the Piney Branch Elementary and Montgomery Blair High School Parent Teacher Student Associations. The catalyst for her initial involvement in public service was to make sure that her two sons succeed in school. Ervin decided to join the parent teacher student associations, not only to advocate on behalf of her own children, but to be a voice for other children whose parents may not have the time, access or experience to ensure that their children were taking advantage of robust educational opportunities.

Elected to the Montgomery County Board of Education in 2004, Ervin served as chairperson of the Research and Evaluation Committee. While on the Board of Education, Ervin developed solutions to a variety of issues that impacted the lives of students and their families. Ervin also served as NAACP Parents’ Council representative and was a founding member of Blacks United for Excellence in Education.

As a Councilmember, Ervin’s legislative agenda includes making changes that promote the interests of working families. She was the lead sponsor of the County’s Prevailing Wage Law. This law requires contractors and subcontractors to pay prevailing wages to workers on county construction projects. Ervin believes that government has a responsibility to ensure that working families are paid a fair wage to ensure self-sufficiency; otherwise, county government pays in the long run with higher costs for social services and housing assistance.

Councilmember Ervin has worked to dismantle barriers to high-quality child care by promoting better access to child care subsidies for families. She has pushed county officials to eliminate obstacles and streamline the process for accessing child care subsidies. Without these subsidies, families must often choose substandard and unlicensed childcare for their children. Ervin believes that policymakers must create a system that encourages participation, so that families can easily access services.

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