An entrepreneur and since he was 16 years old, Rich Valdés turned his home-based hair cutting hobby into an actual barbershop business in his senior year of high school. At 20 years old, Rich used savings and the equity earned in his barbershop for a start-up cell phone business. Pursuing his own vision, he ventured off and launched another similar start-up until getting recruited by Verizon Wireless as a corporate sales executive in early 2001. As a leader and communicator, Rich has a track record of success in management, public relations, marketing, and sales.
In 2011, Rich was appointed by Governor Chris Christie to the New Jersey Office of Family & Community Partnerships leading the growth and development for the State’s Family Success Centers in northern New Jersey. Marketing and outreach were key functions of this role. Raising the profile and importance of the Family Success Center initiative were top priorities for the Commissioner and the Governor’s office. By the end of his second year, Rich and the team successfully crafted a messaging strategy that added value for intergovernmental and community stakeholders to support the initiative resulting in millions of added budget dollars during a time of deep cuts to the State budget.
As an award-winning Director of Admissions & Marketing, Rich has coached dozens of staff counselors on sales strategies; together they’ve helped thousands of students change their lives by completing their education.
As part of the leadership team of Pillar College (formerly Somerset Christian College) Rich oversaw all of the college’s marketing, public relations, communications and admissions staff for student recruitment.
Rich’s team-building, leadership and, performance management contributed to the college winning a national award for enrollment growth. In 2009, Rich worked directly with the college’s president, Dr. David E. Schroeder, and played the lead marketing role launching a new campus in Newark, NJ. This million-dollar project included input on site selection, construction, design, and developing new business. Here’s what President Schroeder said about Rich just seven months after joining the college’s leadership team in the following recommendation:
“Although Rich Valdes has been Admissions Director for Somerset Christian College for less than a year, he has demonstrated the qualities and work performance that I expect, which is a high level of excellence. Most remarkably, Rich has turned a stagnant culture of low energy and achievement into a highly motivated and successful team. He has brought out the best in his staff. His marketing creativity and sales orientation are unusually outstanding. And his values and commitments work well in our environment.” — Dr. David E. Schroeder, President of Pillar College, past President of Nyack College.
Giving back to the community is part of Rich’s DNA, so In 2010 — following two years as an un-paid volunteer police officer in Nutley, NJ — he was appointed by Newark Mayor Corey Booker, Police Director Jerry McCarthy, and Clergy Affairs Commander Sergeant Lesley L. Jones, Jr. to be a Deputy Chief, Police Chaplain for the City of Newark Police Department. As a police chaplain, Rich coached the families of violent crime victims through difficult times offering a strengths-based approach to coping with crisis. Rich was trained by The Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Emergency Services Chaplaincy in 2010, and served as the volunteer Director of Education & Training for the Newark Police Clergy Alliance as well.
In 2011 Rich volunteered and joined a group of concerned parents and professionals in founding the BelovED Community Charter School in Jersey City, NJ. This public charter school is on its way to becoming a national model thanks to the parent’s and student’s efforts combined with the leadership provided by the school’s faculty, board, administration, and the schools consultant — former Jersey City Mayor and NJ Commissioner of Education — Bret Schundler. Rich now serves on the school’s board as a Trustee offering advice policy matters and is Chair of BelovED’s Family & Community committee.
Rich often speaks on his experiences and accomplishments leading staff and projects in business, government, and non-profit organizations. Rich also gives talks and workshops on what he’s learned from producing high-profile public relations events to raise awareness for various brands and charities. In 2014 Rich gave a TEDx Talk at the TEDx Education Innovation conference held on the Campus of Bergen Community College.
As a keynote speaker, strategist, and frequent TV & radio personality, Rich’s commentary on social issues and popular culture have been featured in his weekly column in The Washington Times, Communities section and broadcast on television and radio by Hot 97, CNN Headline News, Telemundo, Univision, Fox/My9TV and other networks.
Rich is a single dad to two little girls and a member of the Young Benefactor’s committee of VH1 Save The Music Foundation. Rich attended New York University studying Organizational Behavior & Communications and is pursuing further education, while raising his two young daughters and caring for his elderly father just outside of New York City in Bergen County, New Jersey.
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