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Amanda on Paving the Way for Fair Chance Job Seekers

“Growing up, my family was always proud of me. I had a 4.0 GPA when I graduated high school, and then went on to college. I built a successful career as a Regional Training Manager for a prominent, multimillion-dollar restaurant company. I had everything together at work, but outside of work, I was a mess.

I went from toxic relationship to toxic relationship, and that’s when my life started to take a turn. Drugs got involved, which led to losing my job with the restaurant company after 13 years. After that, I struggled with addiction and couldn’t keep a job. I resorted to selling drugs to survive, and before I knew it, I ended up at the Ohio Reformatory for Women.

During my two years in prison, I worked hard to become the best version of myself. Then, right before I was released, JBM Packaging came and gave a presentation.

It blew me away that they were offering jobs to people with felonies. I had a great resume, but I never thought anyone would hire me because of my record.

They were hiring for Machine Operator positions, and since I had never worked in manufacturing, I wasn’t familiar with the role. I knew I had what they were looking for, though. I was good at math and had strong attention to detail.

I wanted to work for a small, family-owned company. I didn’t want to just be a number. I wanted to make a name for myself. At JBM, I knew I would have a fair chance at a new beginning and the support of a life and financial coach. This would help me maintain my sobriety and fix my credit.

When I got the job, I was so excited. I knew I had to give it my all and be the best Machine Operator they had. And I did. After six months they asked me to be a Machine Operator Trainer. I loved mentoring new employees, and I continuously suggested ways we could improve training.

But it wasn’t until JBM held their first graduation for employees in their coaching program that people really got to know me. I was the keynote speaker at the ceremony, where I shared my story. I could tell employees started to shift their mindsets around their formerly justice-involved teammates after learning about my journey.

I was proud that my story sent a message of ‘You can’t judge someone based on their past. You need to look at who people are today.

Shortly after delivering the keynote speech, JBM posted a Talent Acquisition and Training Specialist position, which would allow me to help more fair chance job seekers join the JBM team. I was eager to visit prisons and share my story. I could connect with people whose shoes I had been in.

I got the job, and it’s perfect for me. I get to help people see what’s possible. I help them believe you can get out of prison and live a great life. Their background does not define who they are or what they can achieve.

Today, I have my dream career, and I’m the best version of myself. I met a man, fell in love, and now we have a beautiful baby girl and a loving family.

While my journey had a lot of trials and tribulations, I wouldn’t change any of it because it led me to where I am – and who I am – today.

In 2016, JBM Packaging launched their Fair Chance Program, which has allowed them to hire more than 100 formerly justice-involved individuals. If you are curious about how to build or grow a fair chance program at your firm, check out our case study on JBM Packaging.