Valerie is a “new kind of Republican” – a Hispanic-American, first-generation college student, married to a first generation immigrant, and raised in a single parent home where she and her family lived paycheck to paycheck her entire childhood. Her views have been shaped by her diverse and humble upbringing, which was transformed through education and hard work.
Valerie initially attended her local community college and later transferred to the University of California Berkeley (BA). She holds graduate degrees from Columbia University (MPA) and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (MBA). Valerie started her career working for Congressman Bill Baker (R), CA-10. She then spent 15+ years working for some of the most prestigious firms in the country, including Silicon Valley startups, Goldman Sachs, UBS, Wells Fargo, IBM and Bloomberg before launching her own family office.
Valerie was born in Daly City, CA, on June 14, 1973 (Flag day) to a Slovenian mother and Mexican father. She moved when she was 1 to San Pablo, CA - a predominantly blue-collar, lower middle class, racially diverse town, 20 miles east of San Francisco where she lived for the next 16 years. Her parents divorced just after her first birthday as her mother escaped domestic violence from her husband Gus (Sr). Her mother was left to raise her young children by herself, with no financial or emotional support from their father. Valerie has one older brother, Gus, who is 18 months older and remains her best friend. Her family lived paycheck to paycheck her entire childhood, and no one in her family had ever attended college.
She would go on to become a first-generation college student, first-generation graduate student, build a successful career in Politics, Technology, Finance and Real Estate. She is married to a first generation immigrant and has lived in six states in the US and has traveled extensively across the US, Europe, and Asia.
Her mother joined the Social Security Administration right out of high school in San Francisco, CA as a GS 2. She spent her entire career in the federal government and retired after 25 years as a GS 12 in Richmond, CA.
Her mother did her best to shield Valerie and her brother, Gus, from the crime in the area and provide as normal a childhood as possible. They were latchkey kids who were responsible for getting themselves to and from school, and feeding themselves as their mother left the house typically at 5 am and returned at 7 pm.
Growing up, Valerie often worried she would be "stolen" from her home. Their house was burglarized when she was a child. Given there was nothing of value to steal in their house, the criminals instead took the two family dogs – both boxers – Bo and Tanya.
Valerie never took the SAT and didn’t really plan on going to college. It was her older brother, Gus, that served as a role model that set the stage for Valerie’s future academic success.
She went on to attend her local community college, then transferred to UC Berkeley and has two Masters degrees from Ivy League schools. She self-funded her entire education at UC Berkeley, working 30 hours a week at Wells Fargo Bank while maintaining top grades and graduated with no undergrad debt.
She then attended Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs where she received several academic scholarships and awards and was appointed a Teaching Assistant (Statistics). Following Columbia, she attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania where she earned her MBA in Finance.
She and her brother are both undergraduates of UC Berkeley and graduates of Wharton.
Valerie saw her mother work 14-hour days, almost every day to provide for the family. As a role model, she instilled in her children the power of hard work, financial responsibility and living within one's means - to and adapt and thrive, no matter what challenges one faces. She made her children promise that they would create a better life for themselves and taught them the abundant opportunities available to anyone willing to work hard. Given their circumstances, the children had to earn their allowances and work harder, smarter, get up and dust themselves if they fell down and keep trying. These were the guiding principles that allowed Valerie and her Gus to change their lives through education.
She met her husband, while working in the technology industry in San Francisco, CA. Valerie has been married to her husband, S. Brian Mukherjee for over 16 years and has two children. She has experienced first-hand the agony of a miscarriage, a life-threatening ectopic pregnancy as well as the joy of two live, healthy births.
Brian is a first-generation immigrant from India and a technology executive turned investor. He served as the CEO or division head of several US and International public and private companies, where he helped build, transform and exit several companies in the internet, mobile and software sectors. He subsequently helped launch a private equity fund. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering and an MBA from Chicago Booth.
Brian was raised in a military family in India. Both his parents were born in Bangladesh and came to India as refugees around the partition of India in 1947. Through sheer grit and determination, his father self-funded his way through one of the most prestigious medical schools in India by tutoring kids in exchange for room and board, before joining and subsequently retiring as a (Brigadier) General in the Indian Army. His mother put herself through graduate school and subsequently became a college professor. His brother joined the merchant marine right out of high school and became one of the youngest captains of trans-continental oil and gas tankers in the company’s fleet.
Over the last 15 years, Valerie and her family have lived in CA, WA, CT, NY and IL relocating often for either her or her husband’s job. She has traveled extensively across the US and internationally, in Europe, Latin America and Asia.