American Conference on Diversity celebrates Hispanic Heritage month with the announcement of Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes as keynote speaker at the 12th Annual Statewide Conference on Diversity Issues in Higher Education.

Titled “Who Has the Access C.O.D.E.? Positioning a Generation for Better Careers, Opportunities & Diversity Through Education,” this year’s signature event will be held on November 16 (9 3 p.m.) at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, N.J., and will feature workshops, panel discussions, and a dynamic keynote presentation from Prosecutor Valdes. As the first Latina county prosecutor in the state and the first woman prosecutor in Passaic County, Valdes is a shining example of career success through education. Valdes is currently the youngest sitting county prosecutor in New Jersey.

“If you believe, like I do, that your background contributes to how you see the world, then the benefit of having a diverse workforce or educational institution—is obvious,” says Valdes, who was raised in Newark where she attended the public school system. She earned her undergraduate degree from Seton Hall University, her law degree from Rutgers Law School-Newark, and her LL.M. in Trial Advocacy from Temple University.

“As a whole, a diverse group of people can offer greater perspectives and experiences than a group of individuals that are all alike,” she adds. “From the classroom to the workplace, diversity benefits the community.”

For the past three years as prosecutor, Valdes has been responsible for the management of approximately 200 office employees, a $17.5 million office budget, and the oversight of 16 municipal police departments, the police departments of William Paterson and Montclair State Universities and the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department. Valdes has dedicated her professional career to government service and public safety. She served as Municipal Prosecutor in the City of Newark, a Deputy Attorney General in the New Jersey Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor, and as an Assistant United States Attorney in the federal District of New Jersey. Prior to joining the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, Valdes served as an Assistant Counsel to Governor Christine Todd Whitman and Acting Governor Donald T. DiFrancesco. During that time, she handled all aspects of criminal legislation and initiatives. While at the Governor’s Office, two of her proudest accomplishments included working on the legislation that created the New Jersey Drug Courts and the New Jersey Sex Offender Internet Registry.

Valdes was the 25th President of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey and a former board of trustee member of the New Jersey State Bar Association. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. As the proud mother of two beautiful autistic girls, Valdes also helps raise awareness about autism and special needs education.

“The American Conference on Diversity is thrilled to have such a distinguished speaker at this year’s Statewide Conference on Diversity Issues in Higher Education,” says Elizabeth Williams-Riley, President and CEO. “Ms. Valdes’ thought-provoking keynote presentation, along with our discussions and workshops, will open our minds and spur meaningful conversation regarding providing the best opportunities for all through education.”

Who should attend: Business and corporate representatives, higher education administrators, faculty, staff, as well as students with diversity and inclusion interest.

Conference partners: Bergen Community College; Bloomfield College; Brookdale Community College; College of St. Elizabeth; Drew University; Georgian Court University; Kean University; Monmouth University; Montclair State University; New Jersey City University; Rider University; Rowan University; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; Saint Peter’s University; Seton Hall University; UMDNJ; William Paterson University and Community Partner PSEG.

Registration fee: $65/professionals, $35/students

To register or for sponsorship opportunities: Email or call 732-745-9330.