Passaic County prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes joined the Society of Skeptics virtually on November 17 to discuss “Pathways to Success.” Ms. Valdes is the chief law enforcement officer for the northern New Jersey county that is home to half a million residents and encompasses more than a dozen municipalities, including the cities of Paterson, Clifton and Passaic. To view her presentation, please click below:
Appointed to her current role in 2009 by Governor Jon Corzine and re-appointed in 2015 by Governor Chris Christie, Ms. Valdes is the first Latina county prosecutor in the state, the first woman to serve as a Passaic County prosecutor and the first lead prosecutor of Dominican ancestry in the United States. Her career in government service also includes stints as municipal prosecutor in the City of Newark, as a deputy attorney general in the New Jersey Attorney General’s office, as an assistant governor’s counsel to two New Jersey governors and as an assistant U.S. attorney in Newark.
Ms. Valdes’ extensive experience covers everything from investigating and prosecuting municipal offenses to complex federal crimes that include human trafficking, health care fraud, financial offenses and violent crimes. As county prosecutor, she manages approximately 185 employees and oversees 16 municipal police departments, the police departments of William Paterson University and Montclair State University, and the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department.
During her Skeptics presentation, Ms. Valdes shared her life story and discussed ways that students can go from Blair to the next level. Born in the Bronx, New York, to Dominican parents, she is a graduate of Newark public schools, Seton Hall University (1993) and Rutgers Law School-Newark (1996). She earned her LLM in trial advocacy from Temple University in 2001. Ms. Valdes is a past president of the County Prosecutors Association of New Jersey and the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey, and her many professional accolades include having been named the Hispanic National Bar Association’s Latina Lawyer of the Year (2016). Her community service work includes advocacy for autistic children, and she is the proud mother of two autistic daughters.
The Society of Skeptics was established as a forum for students and faculty to discuss and debate important global issues; it has grown to become one of the premier high school lecture series in the United States. Each week, speakers from the political, social, scientific, economic and literary arenas share their unique perspectives with students, who are encouraged to engage with presenters, asking questions and debating points of view.
The program, which is funded in part by The Class of 1968 Society of Skeptics Endowment Fund, was an outgrowth of the Blair International Society, begun in 1937. Forty years later, former history department chair Elliott Trommald, PhD, Hon. ’65, established the modern Skeptics program as a regular forum for student discussion and debate; history teacher Martin Miller, PhD, took over in the mid-1980s and molded the program into a weekly lecture series, one that has since continued without interruption. Under the tutelage of Dr. Miller and his successor, history department chair Jason Beck, Skeptics has featured a wide variety of speakers who are engaging, accomplished in their respective fields and often controversial. For a listing of upcoming Skeptics programs, please click here.