Ex-con using past to create future for youth
John Valverde isn’t your typical CEO. He spent 16 years in prison for killing a man accused of raping his girlfriend.
While in prison, Valverde did his best to redeem himself, earning two college degrees, teaching fellow inmates how to read and write and working as an HIV/AIDS counselor.
Next week, he’ ll take over as chief executive officer of YouthBuild USA Inc, an organization with a global network of programs aimed at helping young, low-income dropouts reclaim their lives and get skills to land jobs and become community leaders.
Valverde said he thinks it is important for him to be honest about his past with the young people he’s trying to help. One in three has a criminal record.
“They are just like me, and therefore their path could be like mine, and therefore they could achieve things that they never imagined,” Valverde said.
Valverde went from being a promising young college student to a convicted killer.
In 1991, at age 20, Valverde decided to confront a photographer his girlfriend said had raped her. He shot the man once in the head, at pointblank range, killing him. The photographer, Joel Schoenfeld, was on probation for two other sex offenses at the time.
Valverde was convicted of manslaughter and spent 16 years in prison before being released on parole.
Valverde said that although he believes “it’s never possible to make amends for taking a life,” he decided to try to transform his own life.