Valerie Foushee (1956- )

Representative Valerie Foushee posing in front of American flag
Representative Valerie Foushee, January 3, 2023
Courtesy U.S. House of Representatives under public domain

Valerie Foushee is a politician, a member of the Democratic Party, serving as the US Representative for North Carolina’s 4th congressional district since January 2023. She was born Valerie Jean Paige in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on May 7, 1956. Although her parents were just teenagers when she was born, the couple had six children together. Despite the presence of the University of North Carolina in the city, Foushee grew up in a segregated world in Chapel Hill, including the churches, the school she attended until the 6th grade, and the neighborhood. she was reared in the Pine Knolls section of Chapel Hill, an all-black community, whose history goes back into the mid-18th century.

Paige attended segregated schools until sixth grade, and graduated from now-racially integrated Chapel Hill High School in 1974 as class president. She attended the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (UNC) for two years, while working multiple jobs, and regularly attended First Baptist Church. The church, founded in 1865 by formerly enslaved people, was the site of her marriage to her high school sweetheart, Stan Foushee in 1977. The couple had two sons, Stanley II and Terrence.

Valerie Foushee served as a Chapel Hill Police Officer in 1987, while her husband worked his way through the Fire Department. Foushee often worked 12-hour shifts as a desk officer in the local jail, got off work at 7:00 a.m., and then worked as a volunteer at her children’s elementary school until 9:00 a.m.

Her decade of community service in the school helped lead her into politics.  She became a member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro District School Board in 1997, a position she held until 2004. From 2001 to 2003, she was Chair of the Board. In 2004, she became the first African American woman to be elected to the Orange County Board of County Commissioners. In 2005, she returned to UNC as the Leadership Triangle Goodman Fellow. Foushee earned her BA in Political Science and African and Afro-American Studies in 2008, and retired from the police department after 21 years of service.

Foushee continued to serve on the Orange County Board until 2012, and held the position of Chair from 2008 to 2010. In 2012, she announced her candidacy for the North Carolina State House of Representatives, a seat vacated by then-Senator Eleanor Kinnard. She won the Democratic primary with 80% of the vote, and the district election with 55% of the votes. Foushee first represented the 50th district, then the 23rd district.

In 2022, Foushee announced her candidacy for the North Carolina 4th congressional district. She won the Democratic primary with 46% of the vote against her closest opponent, Nida Adam, with 36%. In the November 2022 election, Foushee won with 67% percent of the vote against Republican Courtney Geels.

Foushee now represents North Carolina’s 4th district in the 118th congress, assuming office in January 2023. During her tenure in the State House, she served on numerous committees, that include Finance, Commerce and Insurance, and State and Local Government. Her husband is now retired from the Fire Department, leaving as the Fire Marshall for the town of Carrboro. The couple have one grandson, Stanley III. They still reside in Chapel Hill.