June 16, 2022

Ofelia Valdez-Yeager was born in Mexico and moved to Montebello, California, when she was six years old. She settled in Riverside after graduating from the University of California, Riverside in 1965. She knew that education would provide her endless opportunities and decided to pursue a Spanish major at UCR with a goal of becoming a teacher. Following graduation from UCR, Valdez-Yeager began working for the Rancho Cucamonga School District's Follow Through program focusing on grades K-3.

Valdez-Yeager decided to take time off to raise her family. She later returned to the classroom as a resource teacher, a consultant for bilingual education, and a substitute teacher, often at Longfellow Elementary, where her husband taught and children attended. During this period, Valdez-Yeager was also the PTA President at Longfellow, striving to promote student success via parent and community involvement.

Her leadership experience as the PTA president paved the way for her eventual and successful run for office as the first Latina RUSD Board Trustee elected in 1992. During Valdez-Yeager’s time on the board, she noticed a need to increase RUSD's capacity to reach Spanish-speaking families. As a result, working with Superintendent Paul Houston, the District’s first ever translator/interpreter came on board, representing a monumental step towards access, equity and inclusion.

Valdez-Yeager has held several influential positions, including serving as an assistant to former Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge, Chief of Staff to former RUSD Superintendents Tony Lardieri and Susan Rainey, Chief Administrative Liaison to the Riverside County Superintendent of Schools Dave Long, and is a founding member of the Latino Network, a philanthropic organization that provides a forum to address community issues affecting and impacting the Latino community.

She continues to serve as a community volunteer in various organizations committed to improving quality of life issues through committees and boards. She served as the Chair of the Altura Credit Union Board of Directors and the RUSD Bond Measure Committee. She and husband Ley Yeager have 4 grown children and 7 grandchildren. In addition, Valdez-Yeager was recently recognized as the 2022 ATHENA Award Recipient.

Her most recent community contribution is The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture, a museum art collection in the heart of downtown Riverside. In partnership with Cheech Marin and the Riverside Art Museum, Yeager raised $3 million in the project's first year to ensure its development. "This effort is the museum world addressing and reflecting the needs of the community they serve," said Valdez-Yeager.

The Cheech will hold its grand opening on June 18, 2022, and is a testament to the importance of the Latino Community's influence on Riverside's cultural offerings and its pride in being known as the city of arts and innovation.


Nick Hamre
Community Relations Manager

About Riverside Unified School District
Riverside Unified School District is the 16th largest school district in California, serving nearly 42,000 students in 50 schools in Riverside, California. RUSD is governed by five Board of Education members and serves a large portion of the City of Riverside, as well as unincorporated areas of Highgrove and Woodcrest.
Back to Top