By Stephanie McMillen
As a former pilot who flew classified missions for the United States Air Force, Dave Heffernan, assistant director of the Criminal Justice Institute (CJI), said he never envisioned himself working at a college, but was pleased by what he found at Valencia.
“Working at Valencia means being part of a collaborative team where new ideas are valued and forward movement is encouraged and expected,” Dave said. “It means enjoying your relationships with your colleagues, your students and partners in the community.”
Most recently, Dave was recognized for his energy saving efforts – one of his many demonstrations of going beyond the call of duty. Last summer, Dave helped saved the college several hundred dollars by opting to go without air conditioning in one of the CJI conference rooms where he was preparing for an FDLE audit. This action supported the college’s Energy Education program, and earned him the special designation as one of Valencia’s first Energy Heroes.
Dave’s first career involved flying missions in the North Atlantic and South America, including combat support missions during Operation Just Cause (Invasion of Panama) and Operation Desert Shield (First Gulf War).
After serving eight years in the military, he went on to run juvenile jails and residential programs in both Oklahoma and Florida. He then came to Valencia through a Department of Juvenile Justice contract job at CJI in 2001.
“In 2006, I was fortunate to be selected for the position I now hold, which allowed me to become part of this remarkable organization,” Dave shared. “One thing that took me nearly a decade to get used to was the unbelievable support you get from any portion of the college that you call on for assistance. Employees are valued as much as service to our students is valued.”
Dave channels immense joy from his daily work duties, where he seizes the opportunity to serve his colleagues and our diverse student population, including the students that he regularly interacts with as an adjunct professor.
“Dave is an outstanding organizational citizen at Valencia,” said Jeff Goltz, director of CJI. “He is eager to participate in many extra activities outside of his routine duties at CJI and is a great ambassador of our work at the institute. Moreover, Dave has recently transformed his health and fitness over the past eight months (Strategic Goal 3, Objective 3.3) and has become a great role model for anyone who wishes to pursue a healthy lifestyle of proper diet and exercise.”
Among his work accomplishments, Dave is proud of his motivation and ability to make standard administrative tasks more efficient. This has included automating systems, such as the institute’s online scheduling of law enforcement training.
“Additionally satisfying,” Dave shared, “is the growth in training at CJI that Dr. Goltz and our staff have developed by partnering with local agencies, federal agencies and divisions of the college like our continuing education department.”
Dave received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawaii in 1982 and a master’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Central Florida in 2010. He is also a certified public manager, has a graduate certificate in crime analysis, and is a licensed airline transport pilot.
Outside of work, Dave enjoys cooking, recreational flying, visiting the beach, and spending time with his wife Martha, four kids and friends. In 1980, Dave was named a Hawaiian Ironman Triathlete, and has recently rekindled his love for “nutty fitness activities,” by waking each morning to swim nearly one mile across Lake Cane in Orlando.
Know of someone doing great work at the college? Send their name to us at The_Grove@valenciacollege.edu so they can be one of our featured colleagues!