Posted on 07/15/21 in LEAP Spotlight!
This September Annie Jones will be hitting her 3-year mark with LEAP. Last October she moved into her new role as manager for LEAP’s Employment Services, and we are thrilled about the work she has been doing to help move the department forward.
She brings with her over 6 years of previous work experience assisting persons with a range of abilities and talents to find work in the not-for-profit space in addition to her work in the for-profit world. During that time, she learned about LEAP through the Employment Collaborative of Cuyahoga County. (LEAP is a member and founding partner agency.) Annie worked closely with our representative and liked LEAP’s work culture of flexibility and its empowering management approach.
“(This can be) challenging work. There are calls at all hours of the day. However, it is a very rewarding career,” stated Annie. Which is all the more reason she “appreciates the trust that management has for her to run her [and her team’s] work to be most effective when working with consumers and potential employers.”
How has LEAP helped you in your career development?
Having started as an Employment Specialist at LEAP, Annie says that she “intimately understands the struggles and successes of her team and their consumers,” which enables her to better support them.
“As an advocate for your consumer in helping them find employment, you spend much of your time listening to them to learn their interests, past-experience, and passions to help guide them to think of opportunities beyond the stereotype of what job a person with disabilities can or can’t do.” These listening skills have helped her to know her team and co-workers, to lead more effectively, and to advocate for them in their career growth.
What is one of your proudest moments at LEAP?
Two years ago, Annie assisted a consumer who later came back and asked to work with her again. “It was an honor to be remembered and to provide career counseling help,” said Annie with a huge grin. Annie was having a hard time helping the consumer find an industry that they were truly happy to be in. Years ago, the consumer had worked in the medical field but had a bad experience, and so they had been avoiding it. Annie worked collaboratively with our former Jesuit volunteer, Sarah, who was returning to school to become a doctor. With Sarah’s help, Annie was able to talk with the consumer about the medical field and to try it again. Today they are a surgical assistant! “They look like a different person – healthy and happy,” exclaimed Annie.
What is your top 3 advice for persons with disabilities looking for work?
- You can do anything; your disability is not a barrier. You need to know you have as much a right to have a good, fulfilling career as anyone else.
- Don't downplay the importance of looking good at your interview.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help from an Employment Specialist including help with bus passes, school, purchasing work clothes, job coaching, and self-advocacy tips.
- Annie is a night owl! Afternoons are the best time!
- Her best vacation occurred during the pandemic when she spent time with her family. They met in Chicago and hung out in the hotel suites. COVID-19 brought so much hardship, but said Annie, “the gift within all that awfulness was that they just spent time together, talking, cooking, playing games. Prior to lock-down, they probably wouldn’t have spent so much time hanging out but instead each doing what they were individually interested in.”
We are thrilled to have Annie as a wonderful staff member of LEAP!