Passaic County Prosecutor announced as 2012 Women’s Conference speaker

The first Latina prosecutor in New Jersey will be the keynote speaker at the 2012 Women’s Conference.

Passaic County Prosecutor, the first lead prosecutor of Dominican ancestry in the United States, and Seton Hall alumnae Camelia M. Valdes will be the speaker for the conference event on March 30 at 10 am.

Valdes said she is excited to be the speaker.

“There is nothing like coming home,” Valdes said. “I am excited to share the lessons I learned at the Hall. As a Latina prosecutor in this very visible role, I know there are young women that will look to what I do with this amazing opportunity.”

Valdes said she is hoping to advise female attendees by speaking about how to love your career and not look at it as work, but as a passion.

“My personal advice to women at the conference is to reflect on your individual passion and then seek work experiences that reflect that passion,” Valdes said. “Work then will not be work but instead will become your life mission.”

According to Valdes, her background has helped mold her attention to criminal justice.

“I was drawn to criminal justice at an early age,” Valdes said. “Born in Bronx, New York to immigrant Dominican parents, raised in Newark, New Jersey and having experienced the ravages of crime in those communities, a career in public safety was the perfect fit for me.”

Valdes said that while her ethnicity and upbringing have much to do with her role as New Jersey’s first Latina county prosecutor, there is also much more.

“While my life experiences certainly shape my view of the world, as the chief law enforcement officer in Passaic County, I am concerned with three main things: facts, evidence and the law,” Valdes said.

Valdes said one of her greatest challenges is not fighting crime, it is raising her two autistic daughters, Isabela and Elsa, who she said have provided her with the hope that she uses to care for them, as well as fulfill her job duties.

“Until recently, autism was a little understood neurological disorder that affects a national average of one out of 150 children. In New Jersey the average is one in 94,” Valdes said. “Because of my strong belief in our Lord’s mercy and the love and support of my family, friends and colleagues, I have the strength to face each day with the hope of serving others.”

According to Valdes, friend and former boss at the United States Attorney’s Office, Gov. Chris Christie, gave her a piece of advice that Valdes carries with her.

“Governor Christie once told me that I would honor where I came from, and who I came from, by doing the best I could do in my work,” Valdes said. “After all, when the celebrations of this accomplishment fade, the work will remain and it is by the work and the choices I make, and not my age, gender, or ethnicity, that I will be judged.”

Kimberly Bolognini can be reached at kimberly.bolognini@student.shu.edu.

Author: Staff Writer

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