A path to fulfillment: Ubaldo’s journey to helping others after overcoming adversity

Mar 01, 2023   |  By Emily Montgomery

Looking at his life today, Ubaldo sometimes has to pinch himself.

“I tell my wife all the time, am I dreaming?,” he says, “It’s so wonderful. I’m so proud of where I am professionally and personally.”

Ubaldo has a loving wife and six happy, successful children. He has a career he truly cares about–helping people who are returning from incarceration secure jobs. However, things weren’t always this good.

Several years ago, Ubaldo, who lives in Denver, Co., found himself in a bad place after a flag football injury. He developed an addiction to the opiods he was prescribed for pain and got in trouble with the law. He was given twenty-five years, the mandatory minimum sentence for his charge, and lost his successful career in telecommunications. Being incarcerated and having to leave the family and life he loved devastated him–but he didn’t give up.

“I rehabilitated myself and got strong again. I underwent a transformation and I became a new person,” he says.

After six years, Ubaldo was eligible to be released early due to a change in sentencing laws that allowed for reconsideration. He left prison last May on parole and was able to go straight home to his wife, who stood by him through his incarceration.

When he attended his parole orientation two weeks later, he met representatives from the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO). The opportunities they presented through CEO–job training and transitional employment–seemed like the best path for him. But he didn’t imagine he’d be working alongside them in just a few months.

Ubaldo succeeded on the CEO work crew he joined, and was chosen to be part of their Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) starting in July. Through the ELP, he shadowed CEO employees in management, learning what their jobs entailed and what they did to be successful leaders. The program also teaches communication skills, diversity and equity strategies, and the fundamentals of organization hierarchy. Ubaldo also got one-on-one time with mentors and group time with other people in his cohort.

“It was very therapeutic,” he said. “It gave us the opportunity to see what it was like to work in the office, and also we were able to learn from each other’s experiences.”

Then, when a full-time position opened up in CEO’s Denver office for a business account manager, Ubaldo took a shot and applied. He was chosen for the competitive role and began in the fall of 2022.

In this role, Ubaldo works directly with CEO participants–individuals who are in the same situation he was less than a year ago. He gets to know them and their work history, skills and job interests, then he works to get them placed in a full-time employment.

It’s a fulfilling job, but challenging, too. “It’s very emotional,” Ubaldo says. “It can be a weight sometimes, but I feel like it’s part of my calling. I’m willing to put in the work. I have the life experience, so I feel like it was tailored for me at this place in my life.”

“I feel grateful and blessed to have accomplished so much in such a short period of time,” he added.