Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes, the state's first Latina county prosecutor, will be keynote speaker at the 12th annual Statewide Conference on Diversity Issues in Higher Education, organizers said Wednesday.
The conference, scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 16, will be at St. Peter's University in Jersey City, and will feature workshops and panel discussions. The theme will be positioning a generation for better careers, opportunities and diversity through education, organizers said.
Valdes, who turned 41 on Sept. 5, is also one of the youngest sitting county prosecutors. She plans to speak about her educational and professional experiences, the value of diversity in higher education and the workplace and the importance of education in overcoming racial and gender bias.
"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," Valdes said in a statement.
Valdes was raised in Newark, where she attended public schools. She earned a bachelor's from Seton Hall University, a law degree from Rutgers Law School-Newark and a master of laws 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," Valdes said. "From the classroom to the workplace, diversity benefits the community."
Valdes was sworn in as prosecutor in August 2009, becoming the first woman to serve as prosecutor in Passaic County.
She created the Public Integrity and Organized Crime Unit and began a new system of regularly issuing press releases on various cases of public importance.
For the past three years as prosecutor, Valdes has been responsible for approximately 200 employees, a $17.5 million budget and the oversight of 16 municipal police departments.
She previously served as a municipal prosecutor in Newark, a deputy attorney general in the New Jersey Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor and as an assistant U.S. attorney in the federal District of New Jersey.
The registration fee for the event is $65 for professionals and $35 for students. To register, write Bari@AmericanConferenceonDiversity.org or call 732-745-9330.
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