by LINDA FRABL | photo by Spark Photography

That’s the Spirit!

Valerie Brown moved with her Air Force officer husband and three daughters to the Westwood section of 92127 12 years ago, after previously living in Florida, North Carolina, and California’s Silicon Valley. She proclaimed, “Westwood is a great place with a welcoming school within walking distance and an international flair.” Her pride in her community motivated Valerie to volunteer for numerous local organizations and activities.

Most of Valerie’s volunteering efforts are directed toward the Rancho Bernardo “Spirit of the Fourth” festivities every 4th of July. It all started back in 2008 when she temporarily took over as the parade announcer because the usual announcer was on vacation. Valerie recalled, “The energy of the group and the sheer fun of the celebration hooked me, and I have volunteered in various capacities every year since, at times wearing far too many hats but enjoying it nonetheless.”

Her biggest Spirit of the Fourth accomplishment was to successfully diversify the overall funding, along with then-president Steve DeMatteo. Valerie clarified, “The Spirit of the Fourth is very challenging to put together – the permits, police, fireworks, PA systems, insurance, and traffic services all add up very quickly. So Steve and I thought outside the box to retain this community event for future generations to enjoy. We worked with the board to add other revenue streams while developing a marketing and sponsorship package, and creating and nurturing fundraisers.”


In addition to her Spirit of the Fourth responsibilities, Valerie has also been a volunteer at her daughters’ schools, the Girl Scout service unit cookie coordinator, the director of the RB Neighborhood Watch, the secretary for the Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, the treasurer for both the Ed Brown Senior Center and 4Community Solutions, and a member of both the RB Fire Safe Council and RB United (which helped in the 2007 Wildfire Recovery efforts).

When she isn’t lending a hand wherever needed in her community, Valerie loves the beach, archery, scrapbooking, hiking, and seeing plays. She also admits to an obsession with pirates, and revealed, “We own the flags for U.S. historical pirates as well as all kinds of pirate-y odds and ends, and I’ve been building the perfect pirate costume for Comic-Con over the years.” It is obvious Valerie has a playful sense of adventure, and when she mixes that with her astute organizational skills, she inevitably serves her community well!


Name: Valerie Maria Brown
Community: Westwood, Rancho Bernardo
Occupation: Nonprofit management and grant writing
Family: Husband – Vince Jolley, Daughters – Amanda (sophomore at Carnegie Mellon University),
Jessica (senior at Classical Academy High School), and Olivia (sophomore at Classical Academy High School)
Interests: Archery, scrapbooking, spending time with the Doctor of Gallifrey (British Labrador puppy)