Val worked for many years as a school social worker and therapist in the inner city schools of Chicago.  She worked primarily with students in crisis, providing counseling services to those living in poverty and exposed to violence, hunger, and those suffering from mental illness.

Val founded Ryan Banks Academy, which will be Chicago’s first boarding school for inner city students.  Named after one of her former students who was shot and killed, RBA will open its doors in Fall 2018 and seeks to impact the lives of at-risk students through a rigorous college and career preparatory education, a supportive 24/7 boarding program, and a focus on personal development in a positive environment.