Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

Love and Law Enforcement

Love and Law Enforcement

More From Val

In this video

Orlando's first female Chief of Police, Val Demings, recounts the story of how she and her husband Jerry Demings met over Val's admonishment of Jerry's efforts when they crossed paths in law enforcement.

Val 's Biography

Diplomatic or Direct: Both.
American Dream:"I really love telling my story because I really do believe it is an American Dream story."
Youngest of Seven:Older siblings were very protective and made sure that Val "knew what they knew."
Val's Parents:"The woman who cleaned houses five days a week and the janitor who worked seven days a week was able to see their youngest child dream realized."

Val Demings’ parents—her mother a maid and her father a janitor—never graduated from high school, but they instilled in their daughter the message that Demings could “Do more, be more and have more.” After 24 years in law enforcement, Demings was appointed to Chief of Police, becoming Orlando’s first female Police Chief and proving to young girls and women everywhere that they too could do more, be more and have more.
 
Attending a segregated school until sixth grade, Demings overcame tremendous hardship and discrimination. Growing up black, poor and female, Demings heard her fair share of “no’s.” But for Demings, the “no’s” motivated her all the more: “The more people told me I could not do something, it just made me more and more determined to do just that.”
 
At the police academy, despite her small stature—5’4 tall and weighing 120lbs—and the fact that she was one of very few women, Demings was still elected class president by her peers. Unstoppable, she graduated at the top of her class and received the Board of Trustees Award for Overall Excellence. Her determination paid off as she rose up the ranks to become Chief of Police. Male officers, unfamiliar with reporting to a female boss, often challenged her authority. Over time, however, she established herself as a force to be reckoned with and received the respect she deserved. “Brains are much more important than brawn in police work.”
 
In addition to making a name for herself as Chief of Police, Demings also met her husband and “biggest cheerleader” Jerry Demings while in the force. Like Val, Jerry also had a historic career with the Orlando police force, serving as its first African American Police Chief. The two met when they were assigned to the same case, and they have continued to work together, supporting each other’s careers ever since.
 
Val Demings is now running for Mayor of Orange County, Florida. (We wish her the best of luck!) For more information about her campaign, visit: http://www.valdemings.com

Related Videos

Joan Ganz Cooney
Joan Ganz Cooney
Co-Founder, Sesame Workshop

A founder of the Sesame Workshop and co-creator of Sesame Street, Joan Ganz Cooney knew that educational television was her calling the moment she walked into Channel 13. Born and ...

Julie Payette
Julie Payette
Astronaut, VP Canada Lands Company, COO Montreal Science Centre

Julie Payette was born in Montreal, Quebec, on October 20, 1963. She graduated cum laude from McGill University with a Bachelor of Engineering in 1986, and received her Masters in ...

Guo Jianmei
Guo Jianmei
China's First Public Interest Lawyer

Guo Jianmei is a human rights activist, lawyer and founder of the Women’s Legal Research and Services Center. Born into a family of peasants in 1960, Jianmei witnessed severe...

Nevine Michaan
Nevine Michaan
Teaching Yoga to Women

Nevine Michaan was born in Egypt in 1954 and moved to New Rochelle, New York at the age of three. She began studying meditation and yoga after college, and soon began training in N...