An entrepreneur and since 16 years old, Rich Valdés turned a hair cutting hobby in his dad’s apartment into an actual barbershop business as a senior at North Bergen High School. At 20 years old, Valdes leveraged his barbershop for the capital to fund a start-up in the retail wireless communications space. Experiencing a feast with one business and famine with the other as the dot-com bubble burst bankrupted many small tech businesses. Soon after he was recruited by Verizon Wireless as a corporate sales executive.
In 2011, Rich was appointed by Governor Chris Christie as a full-time staffer in the New Jersey Office of Family & Community Partnerships overseeing the growth and development of the Family Success Centers in the northern New Jersey region. Marketing and outreach were key functions of this role. Raising the profile and importance of these Family Success Centers were a top priority for the Commissioner and the Governor’s office. By the end of his second year in the Administration, 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. In late 2017 Governor Christie appointed Valdes to serve as an Advisor to the State’s Center for Hispanic Policy Research & Development (CHPRD).
As Director of Admissions and later Director of Marketing and Public Relations Valdes was part of the leadership team at Somerset Christian College (now Pillar College). He Oversaw all of the college’s external communications and led the admissions staff. Valdes’ team-building, leadership and, performance management are credited with helping the college win a national award for enrollment growth.
In 2009, Rich worked directly with the college’s president, Dr. David E. Schroeder, and managed part of the project to launch a new campus in Newark, NJ. This million-dollar endeavor included input on site selection, construction, design, and attracting a new, more diverse student body. 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. 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.
In 2011 Rich linked up with former New Jersey Commissioner of Education, Bret Schundler, who was working with a group of concerned parents and professionals to start the BelovED Community Charter School in Jersey City. This public charter school is now on its way to becoming a national model for educational excellence. Rich still serves on the school’s board as a Trustee offering advice on policy matters and is Chair of BelovED’s Family & Community committee.
In 2014 Rich gave a TEDx Talk focused on communications and education titled: “The Politics of Personal Empowerment: The 4 C’s of Influencing and Impacting Others” at the TEDx Education Innovation conference held on the Campus of Bergen Community College. Rich often speaks on his experiences leading staff and his accomplishments in government, education, and media. 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 non-profit charities.
Rich’s commentary on politics, social issues, and culture have been featured in his column in The Washington Times, Communities section and broadcast on television and radio by Fox News, Hot 97, CNN Headline News, Telemundo, Univision, and others. Valdes was the producer and Director of Operations at James O’Keefe’s investigative filmmaking group, Project Veritas. He is currently the Associate Producer of the nationally syndicated Mark Levin Show. Valdes is the founder of Continental Media Group™ which produces customized media products and VIP event experiences.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, Valdes is the father of two daughters, and was the primary caregiver to both of his parents until their passing. In addition to his native English, he speaks Spanish and Portuguese with fluency. Rich is a lover of 1990’s Hip-Hop music and is a member of the Young Benefactor’s committee at VH1 Save The Music Foundation.
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