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Q&A with Northwest Center Executive Director, James Rudyk

As part of marking ten years of Cara Connects, we are honoring integral members of our community who have contributed to our mission-driven staffing firm at our 2023 Tribute to the Stars. Our Good Neighbor Award honoree is Northwest Center, who has advanced the work of Cara Connects through our co-location partnership, which has brough our services directly into the Belmont-Cragin community. Below, Northwest Center Executive Director James Rudyk shares how he was introduced to and continues to be inspired by this mission.

Talk about your first experience with Cara Connects? What surprised you the most?

One of my first experiences with Cara Connects was to attend Motivations and hear the stories of Cara participants. As many folks share, Motivations really is a spiritual experience in which you see and are fortunate to experience people in their full humanity and see them for their full selves. It’s really special to hear people share their testimony, talk about their lives and sing experience joy together.

How did the experience differ from working with other partners?

Wow, so much to share here, Cara Connects and NWC’s partnership is different than others as it’s rooted in and based on mutually shared values. These values have guided all of our work together and let us dream and vision a process that led to the co-creation of a first of its kind Financial Opportunity Center workforce development program that is nationally recognized and funded.

How was your experience working with the talent Connects provided you?

We have changed our hiring process to always include Cara Connects as a possible source of NWC team members. We have hired almost a fifty individuals through Cara Connects to hire folks in a variety of roles including temp workers, community health workers, older adult program coordinators, finance and administration staff, financial coaches, and more. The workers are diverse, talented, and have developed and grown in their roles at NWC.

How has Cara Connects transformed Northwest Center?

Wow, this is another tough question to answer, it’s been in so many ways, they have helped us develop a program process and flow, think through and track our data differently and more systematically, they helped us think about position needs and competencies by position, they also helped us ensure that we are living our values through our hiring of community members and program participants into the workforce and then supporting those individuals with support services as new team members. 

Why should others consider working with Cara Connects?

Connects is a mission focused, highly effective, relational organization that supports organizations through highly effective work that is customized to the needs of the organization they are partnering with. Cara Connects shows up and shows out, they are authentic, they don’t just talk the talk but they also walk the walk.

Click here to learn more about our 2023 Tribute to the Stars, including tickets and sponsorships.