Meet Rich

I was born in Newark NJ in 1951 to first-generation, blue-collar, Italian-American parents…

I went to public school in Newark and graduated from Vailsburg HS in 1968. My parents didn’t have any money for me to go to college so I worked my way through college, paying for my undergraduate, Masters and Doctoral degrees.

I started out at Essex County College (ECC) in Newark NJ as a Physical Education Major. I attended ECC for two years before transferring to William Paterson University.

I met my wife at the Newark YMCA during my two years at ECC and we worked summer camp together. We got engaged at age 19 and got married during the summer just prior to the beginning of my junior year of college. We’re still together after 53 years and I simply could not have continued on in my studies without the help and sacrifice of my wife Heidi.

I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from William Paterson University in January 1973 and started my career with the NJ State Department of Health in February of the same year. In September of 1973 I enrolled in a Master’s Degree program in Counseling at Seton Hall. Since the counseling program was housed in the School of Education, I earned my Master’s of Education (MEd) degree in 1976.

After spending a decade with the NJSDH I decided I wanted to enter the college teaching ranks and enrolled in a Doctoral Program at Temple University in Health Education. I graduated in 1986 with a Doctor of Education (EdD) degree in Health Ed. with a specialization in Health Counseling.

An Eclectic History

My Three Careers

I’ve always been intellectually curious. I love reading and learning about new things so it was only natural that I’d have multiple careers over the next 40 years.

Public Health Administrator 1973-1986

I got involved in the field of Public Health in 1973 when I graduated from William Paterson University with a BS in Psychology. My first job out of college was working for the NJ State Dept. of Health in their Sexually Transmitted Disease Program as a Field Worker (aka Contact Tracer).

I was promoted several times in the STD Program. After three years I was transferred to the Newark STD Program where I was made an Assistant Supervisor responsible for managing my own cases and supervising a field staff of 10 Field Representatives and a Clinic Staff of around 15. I also started to do more extensive Community STD Education, speaking to large groups about STD Prevention (this was all pre-HIV/AIDS).

After 2 years in Newark I was promoted to Supervisor of the Central NJ STD Program based in New Brunswick that covered five counties and stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Delaware River. I supervised four clinics and a staff of about 50. At this point I was involved in every aspect of clinic management and community outreach.

After 2 years I was promoted again and worked in the state program headquarters alongside the State Coordinator of STD Education Services. I was the Health Education/Counseling Consultant for the entire NJSDH STD Program. I set up and conducted STD Education and Counseling training programs for all of the STD clinics in the state (over 30).

Towards the later part of my tenure in the STD Program, HIV/AIDS burst on the scene and I was recruited to serve the Assistant Commissioner with developing community AIDS Education programs.

College Professor 1986-2014

I was recruited for a faculty position at William Paterson University (WPU) as a result of my guest lecturer work on the campus. I began my career at William Paterson University in 1986 as an Assistant Professor. I earned tenure in 6 years, the shortest time possible and was promoted to Associate Professor as a condition of tenure. I retired as a Full Professor Emeritus in 2014.

While at the university I earned several honors. In my first year of teaching I was a recipient of a Merit Award for my scholarship and service to the university. I was elected three times to “Who’s Who Among University Professors” spanning three decades of teaching excellence.

I served as a Faculty Senator for 6 years (three terms) taking part in governance issues ranging from choosing a new President to completely overhauling the General Education Curriculum. I served on numerous committees and chaired the Continuing Education and Distance Learning Committee (CEDL). I turned down a request from the President of the university to become the Dean of CEDL because I did not want to leave the ranks of the Faculty to become a non-teaching administrator.

One of my most notable accomplishments at WPU was becoming a leader in Distance Learning. I was the first person at WPU to develop and teach an online course. I went on to develop three more fully-online courses and become a key person in the spread of online teaching and learning across the university.

Small Business Owner 1990-2022

I’ve started and served as the President of two businesses since 1990.

In 1990, while working as a college professor in NJ, I founded RJ Health Consultants with a colleague Dr Joanna Hayden. After three years I took over full control of the business and continued to run it myself for the next twenty years. The primary focus of my business was writing textbooks. My second focus during the early years of RJ Health Consultants was working as a training consultant for the STD Medical Training Center in Newark NJ. The center, sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the NJ State Department of Health, and the Newark Health Dept., provided state-of-the-art clinical and educational STD training for doctors, nurses, and other health personnel from around the world.

In 2006 I took a six-month sabbatical from WPU and became a nationally-certified Counselor and Coach. With the help of a small-business loan I set up a small private practice devoted to stress coaching. During this time, I also wrote my first self-help book, and produced the relaxation CD that accompanied it.

In 2014, after retiring from full-time teaching and moving to Marco Island, I dissolved RJ Health Consultants and formed Dr Rich Blonna LLC, a Florida Corporation. My new business was fully-online and focused on producing and offering a variety of self-help training books and courses. Many of my courses were offered by platforms such as Udemy and over the eight years in business I taught 8766 people from 146 countries around the world. Most of my self-help books are still available on Amazon.



“I’ve always been intellectually curious. I love reading and learning about new things.”

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