For Victoria’s family, Cincinnati was a city of opportunity. Her parents – the grandchildren of slaves and children of sharecroppers – moved to Cincinnati in the 1930’s during The Great Migration. They moved to “the city on a hill” in pursuit of opportunity, affordable housing, education for their children, and equality. It was not easy, but they persisted. They instilled in Victoria and her seven siblings the ideals that opportunity can be available for those who are willing to work hard and that your success and the success of your community are one in the same. These lessons of self-sacrifice, universal love, and community care sparked a desire for public service in Victoria.
Directly out of high school, Victoria began her public service career by enlisting in the U.S. Air Force. She rose to the rank of E-4 and was awarded the Air Force Longevity Service Award and Air Force Good Conduct Medal.
After returning to Cincinnati and working in the corporate world for 30 years at United Parcel Service, Mitsubishi Electric Manufacturing and Cognis Corporation, Victoria knew the desire for public service still burned deeply within her, so she became Steve Driehaus’s community outreach representative.
From there, Victoria served as the Development Director at Women’s Crisis Center where she led award winning community outreach and fundraising campaigns to support its domestic violence and sexual assault shelters and programs in 13 counties of Northern KY. Afterwards, she became Major Gifts Officer at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center where she collaborated with stakeholders and wrote grants to support its world class exhibits and programs. Victoria thought she would spend the rest of her career at the sacred grounds of the Freedom Center, but it was at this point that she met the legendary Todd Portune.
Todd Portune was a giant in Cincinnati politics, and took notice of Victoria years before as she advocated for the county to hire local union workers during construction on The Banks while a board member of The AMOS Project. After developing a close friendship, Todd asked Victoria to be his Chief of Staff, which she immediately accepted. As Chief of Staff she worked closely with Portune day-in and day-out as he fulfilled his responsibilities as County Commissioner. Together, they created the Oral Health Coalition, reformed the foster care system, and relentlessly advocated for union workers and families. She represented the Commissioner on several Boards, including Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana Regional Transportation Agency, Transportation Improvement District, SORTA and The Port Authority which is why, when Todd tragically decided he must step down as his health deteriorated, the long-standing public servant felt comfortable leaving the balance of his term in Ms. Parks’ hands. She was appointed by the Hamilton County Central Committee in January of 2020.
Her objective as Commissioner was to complete Todd Portune’s policy agenda and to represent Hamilton County constituents with the passion and desire for fairness and equity that the late commissioner saw in her. Victoria was a dependable and knowledgeable teammate as the commissioners navigated the challenges presented by COVID-19, ensuring a fair distribution of CARES Act funding to jumpstart the county’s economy. Commissioner Parks spearheaded the effort to integrate equity and inclusion into all county operations when she authored the Board’s Declaration that Racism is a Public Health Crisis, directing the Board and Administration to work to eliminate racism in all forms in Hamilton County. With this effort, Commissioner Parks also wrote the resolution to make Juneteenth a paid holiday for Hamilton County employees in celebration of the end of chattel slavery in the United States months before President Biden made it a National Holiday. Under Victoria’s leadership, the County created the Office of Family Voices to assist parents with children in the foster care system to promote family reunification. Additionally, she worked with the city to complete The Andrew J Brady ICON Music Center on time.
After her term as Commissioner ended, Victoria set her sights on City Hall, which was engulfed in a cloud of scandal and corruption. Victoria wanted to create a safe and equitable city for all residents, and in 2021, she was elected to the City Council. As President of the City Council, Victoria prioritized fully funding our public services, keeping guns out of the hands of children, and strengthening the Citizens’ Complaint Authority. Just as she did at the County, Victoria recognized Juneteenth as a paid holiday for all city workers. She has also fought to increase the amount of affordable housing and protect residents from displacement.
Victoria has also hosted Cincinnati’s Girls in Government Day, a program aimed to inspire young women to pursue a career in public service. She led 40 girls in a series of activities and lectures to teach them the role of government and their opportunities for the future.
But the work is not over. The city’s next two years are critical for the future of the city. To ensure that Cincinnati is able to grow without displacement, all development has to be done with a goal of equity. Councilmember Parks has pushed for equity all her life, and will continue to do so to make Cincinnati better for us all, not just the ones at the top.