Overcoming obstacles as not only an African-American, but as an African-American woman was no stranger to Valerie McDonald Roberts. She managed to turn what some might say can be trials, into triumphs. Roberts was not only the first African-American woman to be elected to the Pittsburgh City Council, but more recently, she was the first African-American woman to be elected president of the Pennsylvania Recorder of Deeds Association.

The former Allegheny County manager of real estate and former county recorder of deeds, began her political career in 1989 when she ran and won a seat on the Pittsburgh Public School District Board of Directors, where she was eventually elected president.


Roberts said that her time on the board was a learning experience. It helped her to learn the life of politics and the importance of being “real” with constituents, which she agrees is lacking in today’s politics.

After sitting on the board for four years, she decided to run for Pittsburgh City Council, District 9 in 1991 against Rev. Duane Darkins, but lost.

Reverend Darkins died while in office and a special election was held, which Roberts won.

In 2001 she decided to run for county office, and in 2002 was sworn in as the Allegheny County Recorder of Deeds.

But her campaign trail did not end there. In 2006, she ran for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, but was unsuccessful. She came in second behind Catherine Baker Knoll. From 2008-09 she was the elected president of the Pennsylvania Recorder of Deeds Association, where she was the first African-American to hold that position.

Her elected office became an appointed one and she became the Manager of the County Department of Real Estate.

Roberts ran for County Controller in 2011, but lost to Chelsea Wagner.

She said her advice to women is not to compromise and say what you cannot do because of something. A woman can be accomplished and still take care of her family.

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