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Anissa’ Jones of E&ES: Leadership in Action

Anissa’ Jones

Senior VP of Employment and Human Services


Anissa’ Jones, Senior VP of Employment and Human Services at E&ES, embodies a spirit of relentless, continuous improvement. Constantly seeking innovative ways to enhance service delivery programs, cultivate emerging leaders, and support individual growth, her dedication to ongoing advancement permeates every facet of her leadership. Each customer success story stands as a testament to her unwavering commitment to changing lives through workforce development and human services, one job and successful outcome at a time.

What is your role at E&ES?

In my role as Senior VP of Employment and Human Services at E&ES, I lead our non-WIOA workforce development and social services operations. I help individuals find quality jobs and provide support to families in Chicagoland. My goal is to empower them to become self-sufficient through our programs.

Tell me about your career progression.

I began at E&ES almost 18 years ago. With a Bachelor’s in psychology and a Master's in public administration, I previously worked in the areas of child welfare and domestic violence services. I then joined E&ES as a housing case manager. Over time, I moved into leadership roles, leading to my current senior leadership position. My path has shifted from direct social work to managing broader operations and initiatives.

What have been keys to your success?

My drive to help others has always fueled my success. I've aimed to make a positive impact, whether directly or indirectly. This desire pushes me to excel in everything I do. I'm also someone who never settles for the status quo; I'm always seeking ways to improve and advance, whether it's helping individuals grow, mentoring future leaders, or enhancing our programs and initiatives. I constantly look for areas to improve and growing is part of my nature.

Tell me what it's like to work at E&ES. What makes it special or unique?

Working at E&ES is unique because of its foundation in human dignity and respect, which permeates everything we do. Our team's dedication and longevity, with some members being here for over 25 years, reflect our commitment and passion for service. We excel in using data to drive our services and measure outcomes, ensuring our work translates into meaningful impact. This approach, combined with our respect for individual values and goals, sets E&ES apart in the social services and workforce development field.

What types of talent pools do you work with? For how long do you provide support for participants once they’ve been placed?

We serve everyone searching for meaningful work and the support services that create a stronger, safer, more secure future - including professionals, youth, adults, and those facing challenges like involvement with the criminal justice system or homelessness. Our programs offer workforce training, job placements, and social services. We offer support for up to a year after someone starts a job, focusing on the crucial first 30 days. Our open-door policy ensures individuals can return for assistance or address job challenges anytime.

What is E&ES hoping to achieve in the next few years?

We're dedicated to expanding our reach across Chicagoland to help even more people and local businesses. Our focus is on growing our Human Services program, which is currently focused on assisting CHA public housing and housing choice voucher (HCV) households. We aim to enhance job success and retention rates by linking individuals with services that tackle employment barriers. We're actively seeking resources and grants to bolster our wraparound services. Additionally, we're investing in our team's growth through a comprehensive leadership development program, which fosters internal leadership and career pathways for our employees.

What kinds of employer partners do you work with?

At E&ES, we team up with a variety of local businesses across all industry sectors in the Chicagoland region. We listen to what our job and career-seeking customers are interested in and skilled at, then connect them with matching employers. This approach means we’re not just pairing them with any company, but the right ones. Our Business Account Executives (BAEs) work hard to create these matches. They ensure we meet our job seekers' diverse needs without restricting ourselves to certain sectors.

How do you grow your employer network, and once connected, do you form lasting partnerships or are they usually for specific events? 

Our approach involves both: our BAEs actively seek out job opportunities, and some employers reach out to us, often through referrals. Our executives aim to build strong, lasting partnerships so employers see us as a valuable recruitment resource. Although we occasionally handle one-off events, typically for special projects, our priority is maintaining long-term relationships that encourage employers to return for their hiring needs.

What does starting a partnership typically look like? 


Starting a partnership with us is quick and straightforward and usually takes one to two meetings. We focus on understanding what type of candidates you're looking for, your needs, and making sure we meet your expectations. We discuss your company culture, employee growth opportunities, and work conditions, including site tours. We aim to make the process as simple as possible to minimize unnecessary steps and bureaucracy. There's no paperwork for general partnerships—just share your job description and we handle the rest, including screening and arranging interviews.

What are the most common misconceptions you hear when beginning work with an employer partner?

A common misconception is that candidates from social or workforce programs aren't ready or suitable. Employers might doubt their readiness and potential. Our job is to change this view by highlighting our track record of successful career placements and the comprehensive preparation we provide. This includes job readiness, executive skills training, career coaching/advising, and work-based training, including On-the-Job Training, Paid Work Experience, Pre-Apprenticeships, and Apprenticeships (OJT). We want to showcase the value and qualifications of our candidates. We hope to break down barriers and change perceptions.

What are some common traits or practices shared among your most successful employer partners?

Our most successful employer partners share traits like flexibility, open communication, and the willingness to address concerns promptly. They participate in training programs and provide dedicated mentors. These employers also adapt their hiring practices to match the real skills needed for positions, offer competitive wages for better retention, and create clear pathways for employee growth. Chicago Public Schools stands out as an exemplary partner. They've hired numerous individuals through our programs, through both in-person and virtual hiring events. They offer excellent career opportunities. It's a win-win situation. We connect many people with CPS for their job openings, creating valuable opportunities for both parties.

What types of services can employers access through your organization beyond hiring?

Beyond hiring, employers can access work-based training, like OJT, where we reimburse a minimum of 50% of wages paid per hire/trainee during on-the-job training period. This eases cost burdens with the hope of eventual permanent hire. Additionally, we offer programs like the WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) contract, where we provide ITA (Individual Training Act) vouchers for approved classroom training. While employers might not directly contact us for this, they often refer individuals to us for training with the plan to hire them post-training. These services prepare individuals thoroughly for their roles, with a benefit for both employers and employees.

Could you elaborate on the outcomes employers achieve through your services and the types of results you typically report?

We pay close attention to the outcomes employers need to grow and sustain their business success through a skilled and engaged workforce, and we have achieved significant milestones in our more than 40 years of service. Working with more than 4,000 area businesses and organizations, we’re responsible for more than 100,000 new job placements. This translates into direct savings of more than $200,000 in training costs - significantly reducing the expense of onboarding from a diverse workforce. Connecting employers with funded programs and our vibrant network of workforce-ready candidates translates into higher retention rates for businesses in today’s competitive market.

Do you ever refer candidates out to other partners that you think might be a better fit or do you feel like you can handle most things in-house?

Yes, we often refer candidates to other partners, especially for specialized needs. While we handle many services in-house, we're not experts in everything. This is particularly true for justice-involved individuals, where programs like the Cara Program, CTA Second Chance, and others offer specialized support. Collaboration is important to our approach.

What is a success story you would like to share from your work? 

One standout story is about a woman who came to us during the pandemic. She was struggling to find work and at risk of homelessness, despite having a strong work history and an MBA. Through our outreach, she connected with a career coach who quickly identified job leads for her, including an administrative role at CTA. She passed the required exam, aced her interview, and secured a job paying $67,000 annually. This story is just one example of how we break stereotypes and support individuals in securing quality employment. We provide guidance every step of the way for both candidates and employers.

What is unique about the Cook County workforce development ecosystem?

In Cook County we're lucky to have a wealth of resources and partners. From schools to public services, there's a lot here to help people move forward. What sets Chicago apart is the 311 system, making it super easy to find help. While my experience is mainly local, I've noticed that others, both statewide and nationally, often look to us as a model in workforce development.

What impacts – positive or negative – has the pandemic had on the work that you do at E&ES?

The pandemic posed challenges, but it pushed us to innovate. We've digitized our outreach via emails, social media, and even YouTube. We now offer hybrid services, where we combine in-person and virtual meetings. DocuSign has sped up paperwork. We've adapted to accommodate constraints in our Summer Youth Employment Program and now offer hybrid options. Overall, it's made us more accessible and efficient in serving our community's needs, despite the challenges faced.

If an employer reading this walks away with one thing, what do you hope it will be?

Our main message is simple: we're here to support you. Whether you're an employer or a participant, we see you as our valued customer. Let us be your partner in navigating the challenges and making this process easier. We're committed to providing the tools and resources you need to succeed.



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