Rockford Native, Citizen Servant and Community Activist
Valeri DeCastris is a Rockford native who returned to her hometown in 1995 to help with rebuilding it, particularly the south and west sides. Appalled at the sad degradation of her once-vibrant South Rockford neighborhood—where she and five generations of her family have lived on Cunningham Street—she went right to work at changing things.
Valeri has been a community volunteer activist throughout Illinois for decades and brought many years of career experience in southern Illinois and Springfield back home to Rockford—and she has made a difference.
Val learned the Illinois legislative process and how to make good public policy as a research associate for the Illinois General Assembly in Springfield. She spent nearly a decade there gaining experience with State of Illinois agencies. Valeri knows how Springfield works—and doesn’t work—and wants to make a difference there for the citizens of Rockford as a two-year seat member with the Rock Valley College Board of Trustees.
Rockford’s revitalization can be credited to many people like Valeri who have come together to rebuild and restore the city’s historic, cultured neighborhoods. Val founded the city’s Ethnic Village Neighborhood Association, and has become an active leader within many organizations and nonprofit boards. She has spearheaded several successful community projects ranging from Neighborhood Beautification to Business Development, Civic Planning and Cultural Preservation. She has been the recipient of many activism awards, including: Crusader Clinic’s Spirit of Caring Award, and a National Make a Difference Day Award.
Valeri has been married to David Beccue for 20 years, and they live in her ancestral home (which they renovated) on Cunningham Street. She is a retired State of Illinois and private sector environmental scientist. and a small business owner. Higher education achievements includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences, and a Master’s Degree in Geography and Environmental Resources from Southern Illinois University, where she was a President’s Scholar.
Val has a passion for social justice and has committed her life to improving the quality of people’s lives through action. She empowers other people to become involved in civic affairs and the political process at every level.