The Wisconsin Job Honor Awards, an initiative aimed at recognizing Wisconsinites who have overcome barriers to employment, has announced its top honorees for 2017.
The awards were presented on Nov. 29 in Madison during the Future Wisconsin Summit hosted by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC). Several hundred Wisconsin business leaders assembled to witness the ceremony, in which biographical videos described honoree efforts to win life-changing jobs.
One of this year’s success stories is Willie McShan of Milwaukee. As a youth in Racine, McShan joined the criminal gang Black Disciples. “Being somewhat ambitious, I always wanted to be climbing the ladder of recognition,” said McShan, “even though it was the wrong ladder.” After serving 26 years in prison, McShan was determined to move beyond his criminal past, but a series of low-paying, dead-end jobs led him to the brink of despair. He was introduced to the Joseph Project: a faith-based initiative founded by Pastor Jerome Smith of Greater Praise Church of God in Christ, an inner-city church in Milwaukee.
With support from U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, the Joseph Project inspires and equips jobseekers to win career-track jobs. After completing the training, McShan interviewed with automotive parts manufacturer Nemak in Sheboygan. He was offered a job. After nearly two years at Nemak, McShan continues to thrive. “Right off the bat, Willie possessed the right mindset,” said Human Resources Manager Thomas Baird of Nemak, “He’s actually grown into a training position … So he’s been a key person for us in that particular area.”
Senator Ron Johnson, a founding supporter of The Joseph Project, extended his congratulations to McShan. “All work has value. The way out of poverty is through the dignity of work, earning your own success,” said Sen. Johnson. “There are so many good workers here in Milwaukee; they’re just trapped in this cycle of poverty and dependency and despair. They’re capable of joining your organization and contributing significantly to it. Willie is a prime example of that.”
Lead sponsor of the Wisconsin Job Honor Awards is Milwaukee-based ManpowerGroup. Launched in Iowa in 2014, the awards are expanding nationally under the banner of America’s Job Honor Awards.
“Our society celebrates lottery winners, movie stars and professional athletes,” said Founder Kyle Horn. “We rarely hear inspiring stories of individuals whose lives are transformed through the hard work and perseverance that leads to meaningful employment. It’s time for a new kind of hero.”
To learn more about the Wisconsin Job Honor Awards, visit: JobHonor.org