Former United States Representative (D-FL) - Spring '24
Val Demings is a lifelong public servant who broke numerous glass ceilings in her rise through the Orlando Police Department, her election to Congress, her appointment to prosecute the (first) impeachment of former president Donald Trump, her campaign for Senate in Florida, and her consideration as potential running mate to President Joe Biden.
She earned a B.S. in Criminology from Florida State University and a later Master’s in Public Administration. She graduated from the police academy as class president, receiving the Board of Trustees’ Award for Overall Excellence, and earning the reputation of a bold, creative cop willing to take on conventional thinking and the toughest parts of the city. Chief Demings served 27 years and at every rank level in the department. She commanded the Special Operations division and handled the department’s highest-profile tasks. She attended the 226th session of the FBI National Academy and the FBI Executive Institute. She coordinated the response of the Airport Division on 9/11. And in 2007, she made history when she was appointed to serve as the city’s first female Chief of Police.
Demings launched 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. By focusing on unorthodox strategies like financial literacy, building playgrounds, a GED program, and job skills training, she improved the quality of life in Orlando’s most distressed community.
In 2016, Chief Demings was elected by the voters of Florida’s 10th District to serve in Congress. After Donald Trump’s first impeachment in 2019, Demings was appointed impeachment manager for the Senate trial – one of the first women and first Black Americans to ever serve in that role, and the only non-lawyer on the team. Demings served on the House Committees on Judiciary, Intelligence, Homeland Security, and Oversight and Government Reform.
She chaired the House Homeland Subcommittee on Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Recovery. She was a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Women’s Caucus, and New Democratic Caucus, a member of the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery Review Board and the Elections Security Taskforce, and served as Assistant and Regional Whip for the House Democratic Caucus, Co-Chair of Candidate Recruitment for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Vice Chair of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.
In 2022, Demings ran for Senate in her home state of Florida. Wrote Vanity Fair, “she’d also been watching the manufactured culture wars and subjugating GOP-backed bills emanating from Florida: restricting mail-in voting, creating election policing, passing the anti-LGBTQ+ ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, making abortion all but illegal. Meanwhile, there were key pieces of legislation going to the Senate to die: the George Floyd Policing Act, the Violence Against Women Act, and immigration reform. Put together, these developments convinced Demings that, ‘yeah, we need to make Florida better. But in the Senate, we can make America better. And if we make America better, then Florida and 49 other states are better.”
A graduate of Florida State University and Webster University, Demings holds an honorary doctorate of laws from Bethune-Cookman University, as well as honorary doctorates from Florida Technical College and City College Fort Lauderdale.
Rep. Demings is an active member of St. Mark A.M.E. Church, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Orlando Chapter of the Links, Inc., NAACP Silver Life Member, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, National Association of Women Law Enforcement Executives, National Congress of Black Women, and numerous other affiliations. Post-Congress, Demings has also joined the Bipartisan Policy Center as an Executive Fellow, working together to get things done and improve the quality of life of the American people.
Val Demings and her husband Jerry Demings (currently serving as Mayor of Orange County) have been blessed with three children and five grandchildren. When she’s not fighting for our democracy and spending time with her family, she rides her Harley-Davidson Road King Classic.
Congresswoman Demings' discussion is titled "Leadership and Politics: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly."