For Immediate Release

The Partnership Hosts Virtual Event: “A Hire Calling” Highlighting the Business Case and Community Benefits of “Second Chance” Hiring

The Partnership Hosts Virtual Event: “A Hire Calling” Highlighting the Business Case and Community Benefits of “Second Chance” Hiring

Nationally known CEOs and formerly incarcerated individuals join a nationally recognized author to discuss the benefits of hiring “untapped potential” workforce during “Second Chance” Month


(Chicago) – The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (The Partnership) is hosting “A Hire Calling,” a one-of-a-kind virtual event featuring nationally known CEOs and people who have created thriving careers post-incarceration to discuss the business case for “second chance” hiring. The event includes the premiere of “The Road Home,” a short feature, and a “fireside chat” featuring “second chance” expert and author Jeff Korzenik and Master of Ceremonies David Snyder, CEO and President of Economic Club of Chicago President. The Partnership’s CEO and host, Karin M. Norington-Reaves, will open the event, setting the stage for the unique, important dialogue and presentation at 9 am Wednesday, April 21.

“Data shows that 60% of people incarcerated in Illinois return to 15 communities in Cook County and 12 zip codes in Chicago. The need to ensure that these individuals receive access to resources, including employment training and job placement, is more critical than ever before,” said Partnership CEO Norington-Reaves. “There is no question that systemic racism and inequity in the justice system make formerly incarcerated people far more likely to have their lives shattered and futures determined due to one mistake they may have made. One of the goals of this event and the work of The Partnership is to inform and challenge our employer partners to utilize this untapped well of human capital and potential.”

The Partnership, the non-profit organization that operates the largest public workforce network in the nation, serves Chicago and Cook County. In collaboration with Cook County’s Justice Advisory Council (JAC), The Partnership created the Cook County Coordinated Reentry Council and held eight months of convenings resulting in recommendations for systemic changes to the region’s reentry system. This effort includes The Reentry Navigation Initiative: The Road Home, a 22-month demonstration project intended to address people’s holistic needs upon returning to Cook County from incarceration in Illinois’ penal institutions. This initiative includes an emphasis on workforce development, occupational training, and permanent unsubsidized job placement.

“Many people struggle to navigate life after prison, and getting a job is just the beginning. People need housing, money, and security, and it is our responsibility to create a pathway for people to feel secure and stable,” said Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle. “Cook County is proud of The Partnership for its commitment. This program will play a critical role in breaking some of the systematic barriers and provide a space for people to be treated with humanity and dignity as they transition back into society.”

Roughly ten percent of the people The Partnership serves through federally funded jobs programs self-identify as ex-offenders. Launching in June 2021, The Road Home initiative will offer 150 eligible participants enrollment into a comprehensive reentry program beginning with pre-release that will address the barriers to returning successfully to the community.

“Cook County Jail, like most jails and prisons in our nation, is filled with individuals who are smart, talented, and motivated to work when they return to their communities,” said Sheriff Thomas J. Dart. “My office has hired a number of individuals who were formerly incarcerated, and I know from personal experience that – with the right training and support – these individuals prove to be incredibly productive and valuable employees. But they have to be given a chance.”

There are significant barriers to reentrants finding employment. Data shows that people who have been incarcerated are 50% less likely to receive a job interview and, if employed, will earn 10 – 40% less than their peers​. Further, families have a 40% increased likelihood of poverty if the father is imprisoned.

“The City of Chicago is proud to work with The Partnership to catalyze employer awareness and consideration of hiring the formerly incarcerated,” said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. “As our City and region move toward post-pandemic economic recovery, this work is a shining example of several entities coming together to make this initiative successful, and ultimately getting our returning residents ‘back to work’.”

The “The Road Home” video brings to life the business successes made possible by second chance hiring featuring:

President Toni Preckwinkle,
Cook County Board of Commissioners


Mayor Lori Lightfoot, City of Chicago


Minister Willette Benford
Decarceration Organizer, Live Free Illinois


Michael Cannon, Reentry Navigator,
Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership


Tom Dart, Sheriff, Cook County

August Ghilarducci, Vice President of Training & Development, 2nd Opportunity L3C


Jeff Korzenik, Author


Pete Leonard, Founder – Roast Master,

I Have a Bean, Wheaton, IL


Morag Lucey, CEO, Televerde, Phoenix, AZ


Karin M. Norington-Reaves, CEO,
Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership

The “A Hire Calling” panel includes the following CEOs and returning residents sharing their experiences:

Jeff Brown, President & CEO,
Brown’s Super Stores, Inc., Philadelphia


Dorval R. Carter, Jr., President, Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)


Orlando Mayorga, Reentry Policy Coordinator,

Office of the Lt. Governor’s Justice, Equity, and Opportunity Initiative


Dan Meyer, Founder, President & CEO,
Nehemiah Manufacturing Company

Elesha Nightingale, JD Student &
Founder of The Uplift


Adonis Summerville, Senior Metal Working Skills Instructor, Jane-Addams Resource Corporation


Ally Svenson,
Co-Founder & Chief Purpose Officer, MOD Pizza

People who want to learn more about second chance hiring should text Hire Calling to 474747, or visit The Partnership website at, to receive information about CEOs leveraging this talent pool, and job training and placement opportunities for returning residents.

About The Partnership

The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (The Partnership) is a non-profit umbrella organization operating the public workforce system for the City of Chicago and Cook County.

The Partnership combines federal and philanthropic resources to provide comprehensive workforce development services to employers and job seekers. As the largest public workforce development system in the nation, The Partnership has helped place more than 70,000 individuals in employment; collaborated with more than 2,000 employers; and administered more than $400 million in federal and philanthropic funds. The Partnership’s network consists of 90+ community-based organizations, American Job Centers, satellite sites and sector-driven centers, serving more than 140,000 people annually.  Learn more at