Once a killer, now a CEO: Ex-con works to help youth

An unconventional CEO helps low-income dropouts get the skills they need to land jobs and become community leaders.

SOMERVILLE, Mass. (AP) – The new leader of YouthBuild USA isn’t your typical CEO.

John Valverde spent 16 years in prison for killing a man accused of raping his girlfriend.

While in prison, Valverde earned two college degrees, taught fellow inmates to read and write, and worked as an HIV/AIDS counselor.

Next week, he’ll take over as chief executive officer of YouthBuild, a Somerville, Massachusetts-based nonprofit organization offering programs aimed at helping young, low-income dropouts get the skills they need to land jobs and become community leaders.

Valverde said he thinks it’s 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.