CBIA employees Mark Soycher and Deb Presbie were recognized by Gov. Lamont last week for their efforts helping returning citizens gain employment after time spent incarcerated.
Both Soycher and Presbie are a part of the Department of Correction Industry and Business Advisory Committee, a group of 14 created earlier in the year by the Lamont administration.
The committee meets monthly and hears from both ex-offenders and employers about challenges with the hiring processes.
"I’ve been doing this for a long time and in my 25 years of doing this, I've never seen a program like this one right here," said committee chair John Santa.
"Today is a great milestone in the world of criminal justice reform, especially the reentry process."
Lamont thanked participating employers, sharing a metaphor that resonated with him when he recently visited an auto shop body in Bridgeport.
"In an automobile, the rear view mirror is small and the windshield is big," Lamont said.
"We're allowing people to look forward and look through that windshield and get that opportunity."
For Soycher and Presbie, it's about embracing every organization that touches workforce development.
"It's an economic opportunity and a moral imperative," Soycher, CBIA's human resource counsel, said.
"I've come to believe that hiring people with a record may be a better path in many cases and a better bet for success."
Next spring, CBIA will release a toolkit designed to guide employers through the process of hiring returning citizens.
"For over 30 years, I have been helping job seekers connect with employers and there has never been such a need for workers," said Presbie, a program manager with CBIA's Education & Workforce Partnership.
"The time is right to launch this toolkit, the momentum is there."