The woman in front of Dan Renaldo was in her 30s, but looked twice that. She had gotten out of jail a few days earlier. Her hair was matted. “She just looked defeated,” Renaldo recalled.
And now he had to prepare her for a job interview.
Renaldo, 56, spent most of his life well away from anyone like this woman. He graduated from Notre Dame and quickly shot to senior management positions at both ABC and NBC. “I’ve seen the world,” says the Wayne resident in his booming, confident voice. “I’ve been in meetings with Alan Greenspan. I’ve been around presidents.”
But that all faded into irrelevance in 2012 after Renaldo left his top NBC job as executive vice president of media production after the Comcast takeover and started volunteering as a mentor at Eva’s Village, a large social service non-profit in Paterson.
The people Renaldo now works with are people who have every reason to find it daunting to find and keep a job. They may have just gotten out of jail, or are struggling to kick a drug addiction. Many are being treated for mental health illnesses. They may have unstable family lives. Many have revoked driver’s licenses that make it challenging to get to an interview, let alone get to work every day.
Renaldo works with the paid staff at Eva’s to keep them on track. He coaches them on how to answer questions about their criminal backgrounds in job interviews. He helps them write résumés that emphasize what they do have to offer.
Originally published by Elisa Ung, The Record of North New Jersey at mendoza.nd.edu on May 03, 2016.