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National Group Names Passaic Prosecutor Valdes 'Latina Attorney Of Year'

Passaic County Proseccutor Camelia Valdes
Passaic County Proseccutor Camelia Valdes Photo Credit: COURTESY: PCPO

PATERSON, N.J. -- Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes will receive a "Latina Attorney of the Year" award from the Hispanic National Bar Association at its annual convention in Chicago next month.

This year's convention, from Sept. 7-10, "promises to be the largest gathering of Latino lawyers, judges, law students, and legal professionals from throughout the United States," the HNBA said.

The Bronx-born and Newark-raised Valdes became New Jersey's first Latina county prosecutor in 2009 -- and the first lead prosecutor of Dominican ancestry in the United States -- after working as an assistant U.S. attorney in Newark.

She manages roughly 185 assistant prosecutors, detectives, victim advocates and support staff, with a $19.2 million office budget, and oversees 16 police agencies.

Valdes has handled the job at all levels: She began as a Newark municipal prosecutor, then became a state deputy attorney general before moving to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Her experience includes prosecuting defendants in complex crimes -- among them, human trafficking, health care fraud, financial wrongdoing and violent offense.

Valdes also is extensively involved in bar associations and community service work.

She has two autistic daughters -- Isabela, 11, and Elsa, 9 -- and strives to raise awareness about autism and special needs education.

The theme of this year’s HNBA convention is "Empowering Leaders."

“We honor those who serve as exemplary role models to us all," said HNBA National President Robert T. Maldonado. "We thank you all for your dedication and service. The world is a better place because of you.

"The leadership you exhibit empowers each of us to be better leaders.”

The awards will be distributed during the Sept. 8 HNBA National Awards Reception at the Chicago Cultural Center.

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