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Untapped Talent: Returning Citizens

Returning Citizens Webinar

In the most recent Untapped Talent webinar, Moderator Amber Ramirez, Director of Central Iowa Works, spoke with guest panelists about common concerns and questions when it comes to hiring persons with criminal records. The following panelists took part in the Untapped Talent webinar:

  • Felicia Chumley, Behavioral Health Counselor at UnityPoint Health – Des Moines
  • LaShawn Robinson, Home Healthcare Worker at Amerigroup
  • Dennis Henderson, TEACH/TECH Coordinator at Broadlawns Medical Center

Supporting Returning Citizens

Henderson discussed how transportation, acquiring a driver’s license and housing are common barriers to employment, while employer accommodations, such as more flexibility, helped him overcome some of those barriers. Chumley said that when she was on parole, she moved without telling her PO. Her PO notified her that she was at risk of having her parole revoked because you can’t just move or change jobs without notifying them. Employers can help returning citizens by reminding them about specific returning citizens processes so potential employees aren’t dissuaded from applying for jobs and keeping them.

One of the biggest things formerly incarcerated individuals can do to help themselves is to rehabilitate their reputation. When someone leaves jail/prison, their work history becomes so important. Henderson said that people will accommodate returning citizens when they:

  • Prove reliability
  • Show up on time
  • Do the work!

Robinson said that things don’t happen overnight. While working as a cashier, she worked her way up to customer service and then HR. Patience is important for returning citizens. Once you prove yourself, the right employers will accommodate.


When mentors become friends — or in a sense, become like a surrogate mother or father — that is when they become the most valuable. Henderson said that when a mentor treats a person the way they would their own child in a similar situation, that it makes a difference in what success an employee finds. Mentors must put their hearts into it. While a mentor can give advice, if they’re not fully engaged with the employee, they won’t see the same type of success.

Robinson said employers who train younger employees for longevity will find success with mentoring. When an employee receives good mentorship, they will want to put forth extra effort for the company and produce good work.

Watch the entire webinar below:


Job opportunities and career resources are abundant in Greater Des Moines (DSM). Whether you're looking to find an internship, a job, develop professionally or grow as a student, we have the resources to help you thrive.

Greater Des Moines Partnership

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 24 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, more than 6,500 Regional Business Members and more than 365 Investors, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes DSM as the best place to build a business, a career and a future. Learn more at DSMpartnership.com.