Valencia Martin Wallace

Deputy Commissioner for Patent Quality

"...my parents instilled in me a sense of duty to make this a better world for myself and everyone around me. I could not have picked a more fulfilling way than to help people see their inventions come to life and to use those inventions to help others..."

Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana along with my sister, who also has a career in a technical field. My mother was an elementary school educator. My sister and I were taught, from the very beginning, that an education was the key to finding the life and career that we would like to have. We were encouraged to explore and enjoy math and the sciences and were taught to use our talents to help create a better world for ourselves and everyone around us.

My educational background includes a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Howard University and a J.D. from The George Washington University School of Law.

I graduated from engineering school, worked as an engineer, then decided to explore intellectual property law as a career. The practical and methodical approach to solving problems I learned in engineering school applied directly to studying law.

What do you enjoy most about working at the USPTO?

There are two things that I enjoy the most about the USPTO. The first is that there’s a real sense of community among employees of the agency. I have made life-long friends at the USPTO who have supported me during my successes and my challenges. Employees here at the USPTO care about each other and about excelling in their careers. Quality is always job number 1! There’s no mistake that we are a top rated place to work in the federal government.

The second thing I enjoy most about the USPTO is working as a federal servant. As I mentioned earlier, my parents instilled in me a sense of duty to make this a better world for myself and everyone around me. I could not have picked a more fulfilling way than to help people see their inventions come to life and to use those inventions to help others including through innovative medical treatments and medical devices, advanced electronics, video games, virtual educational facilities, state-of-the-art telecommunications, and more.

What is your view on the importance of women entering STEM fields?

I can’t imagine a world that does not include women scientists, engineers and mathematicians. Diversity of opinion, critical thinking, problem solving and creativity are the hallmarks of technology. Women are intelligent, creative, dynamic and amazing! Without our unique manner of identifying, approaching and solving problems we would not have the inventions that seem common place to us now, but were virtually unthinkable when created, such as windshield wipers invented by Mary Anderson, or a combustion engine by Margaret Knight, or the computer and a computer language (COBOL) by Grace Murray Hopper.

The USPTO has a higher rate of women in tech than Silicon Valley.  Why do you think this is the case?

The USPTO workplace provides an environment that allows our employees to take great pride in doing a high quality, effective and efficient job at helping people make their inventive dreams a reality. This is something respected by all who work here and who manage others here. I believe it also makes a great place to nurture the career advancement of women and men without gender bias.