Iowans Overcoming Barriers to Employment

Mar 1, 2016

Launched in 2014, the Iowa Job Honor Awards celebrate Iowans who have overcome significant barriers to employment as well as honoring the employers who hire them. Those honored over the years include people who have overcome physical and mental disabilities, criminal convictions, limited English proficiency, homelessness, and long term unemployment.

On this edition of River to River, Emily Woodbury talks with the director of America's Job Awards, Kyle Horn, as well as some of this year's honorees: Edward Ailey-Roberson, Clay Haley of Haley Equipment, and John Romeo, who works with another employer honoree, Workforce Solutions.

"I've been a hiring manager for much of my life and I fully subscribe to what I call the 'hiring manager's axiom' which is, 'The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior,'" says Horn. "However, it's not the full story because a small percentage of individuals, through hard work, have altered the trajectory of their lives, and those are the ones we need to pay particular attention to."

"If someone has done the hard work to turn it around, they're at that vulnerable stage where they can now enter society, reintegrate, become self-sufficient, and yet still door after door is slammed shut because they're haunted by their past. So in order to overcome that, the employers must be willing to take a second look at that individual and perhaps to reconsider their pre-screen requirements."

The Iowa Job Honor Awards is accepting nominations for its third annual awards event, to be held on June 14 in Sioux City. Find more information and submit nominations at:

In the second half, a listen-back to Ben Kieffer's interview with disability rights attorney Matan Koch about how to encourage the talent, purchasing power, and experience of the disability community.