Laurel City Councilwoman Valerie Nicholas made history in 2020! Ms. Nicholas is the first woman of color to serve on the City Council and on November 23, 2020, she was nominated and confirmed as the Council President—the first African American female to hold that post.
Councilwoman Nicholas was appointed by the Laurel City Council in June 2011 to complete the remaining six-month term of a retiring Council Member representing Ward One. In November 2011, she was the first African American female to be appointed and then elected to the Laurel City Council.
On November 5, 2019, Councilwoman Nicholas was re-elected to her fifth term--again winning with the most votes in the City. To date, she is still undefeated!
After volunteering for many years as a community advocate, in 2007 Councilwoman Nicholas formed Love Is Not Enough, Inc. which is a tax-exempt, nonprofit organization that addresses the issue of domestic violence. She, too, is a victim of domestic violence, child abuse, and was severely bullied while in junior high and high school.
In 1986, she moved to the DC area from Roanoke, Virginia with only $4.73 in her pocket. Since that time, she has completed 20 years of Federal service which includes her position as a White House appointee, serving two former Presidential appointees under the Clinton Administration. Prior to that, she worked in several roles on the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, where former Senator John C. Danforth was the Ranking Member.
Over the years, Councilwoman Nicholas went from one abusive relationship to the next. She grew up in an abusive household where she witnessed her mother’s death at eight years old. By the time she was 11 years old, she was the bartender at her alcoholic father’s nightly parties where she was physically and sexually abused by her father’s friends. Shortly thereafter, her father became a diabetic, blind and a double amputee. He died years later. During her early years in DC, Valerie became an expectant mother, but experienced the death of her unborn child due to repeated abuse.
Today, Councilwoman Nicholas is often referred to as the Wounded Healer because she uses her own wounds of abuse to help empower and heal the wounds of others. Currently, she works for the Adventist Healthcare System as a Patient Advocate. Formerly she worked at the University of Maryland Laurel Medical Center where she managed three departments which included Volunteer Services, Patient Relations and Pastoral Care even serving as a Chaplain.
In her community, Ms. Nicholas feeds the homeless daily and helps people in need of emergency services. In addition to working full-time she served as her late brother’s caregiver. Standing by his side until he took his last breath, she has witnessed firsthand what faith, love and true commitment is all about. Currently, she serves as a mentor to many and a motivational speaker before diverse audiences.