Javier Valdez

Headshot of Featured Member, Javier Valdez
  • What does your organization do?

    HealthStart Foundation, Inc. focuses on Early Childhood Health & Science Education. We equip young children, 3-8 years old, with the knowledge and tools to make informed health decisions. Teaching children the "why" behind good health at an early age with fun and engaging science-based programs helps lay the foundation for them to build a healthier future for themselves, their families, and their communities.
  • How did you become interested in this work?

    I've been involved in many nonprofits (primarily as a board member) over the past 20+ years. I had been looking for a new career challenge. This type of role allowed me to fully utilize my skill sets, experience, and passion for being wholly present in leading a group of dedicated people.
  • What drives your passion?

    An insatiable curiosity is at the core of what drives my passion. I also tend to seek out challenging strategic initiatives as that gets my juices flowing.
  • Do you have a mentor or a role model?

    No one person in particular. Early in my career, I had a great boss/mentor that I still model to this day. Also, I am a continuous learner and am always seeking out new information that I can put to use.
  • What's the biggest challenge in your work?

    We are scaling a small startup nonprofit during a pandemic where primary audiences are kids in schools. Schools have been upside down due to switching to remote learning. This environment has been a big challenge as schools have their plates full, but I'm starting to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel (crossing fingers).
  • What's the best advice that you have ever received?

    To always let your light shine! Always be authentic and genuine and ignore the noise.
  • What are your top tips for new Executive Directors?

    Don't start during a pandemic! ;-)

    I would say
    1) Be an astute listener/observer
    2) Be authentic and don't think you need to have all the answers all the time
    3) Don't forget that you are the leader that the org needs you to be