John Valverde began working with imprisoned individuals in 1992 to ensure access to HIV/AIDS counseling, high school equivalency instruction, alternatives to violence programs, and college education. In 1995, responding to the gap creating by the elimination of TAP and Pell funding for people in prison, he led an initiative to create and deliver a college-level certificate program, the Certificate in Ministry and Human Services. Today called Rising Hope, this program continues in several New York State prisons. In 1998, he co-founded the first privately-funded accredited college program in New York’s prisons, Hudson Link for Higher Education. More than 450 students in prison have graduated from Hudson Link, which has grown to serve 5 prisons with 6 college partners.
In 2009, John worked with a team at the Osborne Association to create the first green jobs training program in NYC exclusively for people with criminal records. As Osborne’s Executive Vice President, John launched, managed, and led programs including children, youth, and family services; substance abuse treatment; workforce development; community benefit projects; financial literacy; health and wellness services; housing; alternatives to incarceration; mentoring and leadership development; and social enterprises. John has led teams that offer multiple evidence-based interventions, with a trauma-informed aJohn is often called to share his personal story of transformation and second chances at conferences and graduations. As a young man who was incarcerated at 21, John’s work to accept responsibility for his actions and commit to making amends started him on a journey of redemption that allowed him to imagine and build a new future. Though he was incarcerated for almost 16 years, John is now recognized as a proven leader and example for people affected by the criminal justice system. John’s personal and professional lpproach, to distinct populations that range from very young children to the elderly.