Second Chance Conference agenda and presenters

Presenter bios

Dr. Marsha Berry

Dr. Marsha Berry serves as the interim director of The Excel Center® for Goodwill Industries of Kentucky and will launch the first-of-its-kind high school for adults, set to open in the fall at 6201 Preston Highway in Louisville.

Berry retired from Goodwill in July of 2021 but continued to work in a consultant role. When she formally announced her retirement, Goodwill honored Berry by dedicating the Louisville Resource Center at 909 East Broadway to her and her late mother.

After joining Goodwill as human services manager in 1986, Berry was later promoted to vice president of Goodwill’s Beargrass Division, which included 11 retail and donation centers. In 2018, Berry was promoted to vice president of career services for the entire commonwealth.

In 1998, Berry received the Edgar J. Helms Award, one of the highest honors from Goodwill Industries International. The award, named for the organization’s founder, recognizes Goodwill staff for “exemplifying the founder’s principles in the service of people with disabilities and other barriers to productivity.” Berry has also received recognition outside of Goodwill where she was named one of Louisville Business First’s “20 People to Know in Nonprofits.” She has also served as president of the Kentucky Rehabilitation Association and the Kentucky Rehabilitation Administrators Association.

Berry previously worked for Land of Lincoln Goodwill Industries in Springfield, Illinois, as a vocational evaluator and Lima (Ohio) Goodwill Industries as a vocational evaluation aide. Berry received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown College, a master’s in clinical psychology from the University of Illinois at Springfield and her doctorate in clinical psychology at Spalding University in Louisville.

Contact: marsha.berry@goodwillky.org

 

Ryan Blanton

Ryan Blanton is a master’s-prepared social worker with four years of experience in mental health and substance abuse disorders. Blanton completed his bachelor’s in social work from Morehead State University in 2018 and his master’s in social work from Campbellsville University in 2020. He began his career around mental health and substance use in 2017 as a behavioral health supervisor for Bluegrass Organization and his social work case management career in 2019 at Mountain Comprehensive Care Center. Currently, Mr. Blanton is the clinical coordinator for the Mountain Comprehensive Center, Zandale location, in Lexington, Kentucky. He has also served on multiple outreach committees, just recently finishing his tenure as the Chairman of the Clark County Mental Health and Aging Coalition.

Contact: ryan.blanton@mtcomp.org; 859-585-5851

 

Ryan Bowman

Ryan Bowman is the program manager of the Workforce Recovery Program at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. He works with the business community to help show how being a transformational employer can be mutually beneficial for everyone involved. Ryan works to show businesses how they can help themselves while helping the community where they operate. Ryan has been employed with the Kentucky Chamber since 2021 and is excited to have a hand in sculpting the business landscape of Kentucky through his continued efforts in reducing the stigma of addiction, addressing criminal justice reform and assisting employers and organizations in those areas. Ryan is a combat veteran. After returning from his military service, he received his undergraduate degree in psychology from Morehead State University. Ryan is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Murray State University. He hopes to continue to help lead the business community in the same regard the Chamber has in the previous years of the Workforce Recovery Program.

Contact: rbowman@kychamber.com

 

Alisher Burikhanov, SHRM-CP

Alisher Burikhanov is the staff advisor for the Office of Employer & Apprenticeship Services (OEAS), working to serve Kentucky businesses with recruitment, training and incentive opportunities to grow and develop a skilled workforce. Alisher is driven by the idea that Kentucky businesses can diversify their recruitment by widening their scope to “untapped talent.” By retaining those same employees through skills training, the mission to grow Kentucky’s workforce development can be achieved. Alisher is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and has worked in the private, nonprofit and government sectors. Alisher is also a Society of Human Resource Management Professional (SHRM-CP).

Contact: alisher.burikhanov@ky.gov

 

Patrick Bryant

As the recruitment manager for Greenhouse Operations at AppHarvest, Patrick Bryant is committed to helping individuals impacted by substance use disorder find meaningful employment to assist in their recovery. Patrick joined AppHarvest in 2021 with over 20 years of talent acquisition experience across many different industries.  Since joining AppHarvest, he has helped develop recruitment strategies, assisted in the development of second-chance programs and created partnerships with numerous organizations committed to helping individuals achieve long-term recovery from substance use.

Patrick was born in Richmond, Va., attended college in Texas and made Lexington his home in 2018.

Contact: patrick.bryant@appharvest.com; 606-548-8062

 

Nickie Cobb

Dr. Nickie Cobb serves as the associate vice president of workforce solutions for Jefferson Community & Technical College. Nickie has served the local business and industry community for 15 years. In her role, she works closely with all sectors to build custom training and development solutions.

Contact: nicole.cobb@kctcs.edu

 

Dr. Albert Crout

Dr. Albert Crout is a professional recovery program developer, educator and workforce partnership administrator. He has 25 years experience as a public educator and education administrator and  seven years in the field of property development and construction. Dr. Crout is currently employed as the director of Kentucky recovery career networks for Isaiah House Treatment Centers.

Contact: albert.crout@isaiah-house.org

 

Michelle DeJohn

Michelle DeJohn brings more than 20 years of workforce development experience to her role of executive director in the Office for Employer and Apprenticeship Services of the Kentucky Career Center system. Michelle has prior experience as a human resources/training manager. Michelle lives her professional career by practicing the foundational skills of the “five p’s” — patience, persistence, perseverance, passion and purposes.

Contact: michele.dejohn@ky.gov

 

Dr. La’Shonda Fletcher, LMFT, MAR

La’Shonda Fletcher is owner of Revelation Counseling Center. She is a gifted mental health and couples therapist, author and conference speaker. She has been voted one of the best marriage counselors in Louisville by ThreeBest Rated for the last three years. La’Shonda won the 2019 Diversity Emerging Leadership Scholarship Award through the AAMFT. She just completed her doctorate degree in pastoral care and counseling at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Her doctorate dissertation focus was on, “Pastors recognizing mental health issues within their congregation.” She also completed her Master of Religion, master’s in marriage and family therapy degree and Certificate in Black Church Studies at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary May 2015.

La’Shonda Fletcher released her first book, “The Black Church and Mental Health” in 2015. In 2019, she released her second book, “You Can’t Give Up Now.” La’Shonda opened Revelation Counseling Center in the Smoketown/Old Louisville Area in 2015. Four years later, she purchased her own counseling center in South Louisville. Come this August of 2022, La’Shonda will be opening her second counseling center, Carla’s Wellness House, which will include intensive outpatient therapy for those suffering with addiction issues. La’Shonda has a heart for restoring women, marriages and family relationships. La’Shonda has been married to Rev. Carl Fletcher for 22 years and they have three beautiful children, Carl, Jr., Zion and Ella.

Contact: fparalegal@yahoo.com

 

Brian Fulcher

Brian Fulcher is a human resource specialist at Toyota Tsusho America Steel Operations in Georgetown, Kentucky. He is involved in all aspects of employee relations, including recruiting, onboarding and training. Previously, he spent nearly two decades as an ordained minister serving as youth pastor, senior pastor and executive pastor on the staff of multiple churches.

Contact: brian_fulcher@taiamerica.com; (502) 735-5548

 

Lada Gasparac

Lada Gasparac is the senior director of young adult programs for KentuckianaWorks, this region’s dedicated Workforce Board. Prior to investigating and collaborating on transforming the social ecology, Lada has been actively working with KY DOC, foster care agencies, court systems and mental health providers for over 18 years. She is a data enthusiast, behavioral and mental health advocate/trainer/facilitator and a voice for holistic approaches to change.

Contact: lada.gasparac@kentuckianaworks.org

 

Susan Buchanan Graves

Susan works for the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency (KIPDA) Area Agency on Aging and Independent Living as a certified kynector AND the outreach & enrollment program coordinator.

“I got really tired of working in “corporate America” and all the politics of it,” she said. “It was unrewarding and frankly draining the life out of me every day. A lot of my clients are homeless and they do not have the resources handed to them to be successful and part of that is being healthy. And to be healthy you need to have quality health care. It is pretty simple, if you are sick, you can’t help anyone else. You can’t take care of your family, and you can’t take care of your job to put food on the table. People are struggling in many ways, visible and invisible. If COVID has taught us anything, it is that many of us are not where we were financially two-to-three years ago. You love people where they are in life, you don’t judge them, you just help them pick up the pieces. I believe I was truly put on this earth to serve rather than to be served!”

Susan is a Louisville native that started getting involved in with social services and serving the community from the very young age of 4, when her parents sponsored a Vietnamese Family of Refugees that then became US citizens through Catholic Charities. It was here that she learned to give back to the community by serving. Again, seeing a need to have a voice for the underserved, she went off to college to Western Kentucky University where she majored in special education and pre-elementary education. She said, “I have always been a cheerleader for the underdog. I like Cinderella stories. It warms my heart and makes me feel good about what I do for a living. I leave work and feel good about myself knowing I helped someone else every day.“

Susan resides in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, with her husband Bryan. In her spare time she enjoys travelling, gardening, cooking amazing meals and animals.

Contact: susan.graves@kipda.org

 

Cassandra D. Harris Gray

Cassandra D. Harris Gray is a dynamic and gifted speaker, author, teacher, columnist, lecturer counselor, corporate trainer and workshop conference leader. A skilled counselor, Cassandra completed a Bachelor of Psychology from Kentucky State University and a Master of Science in counseling-marriage and family therapy from Campbellsville University. She has 25 years of experience in behavioral and mental health services. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor (LCADC) and a certified autonomous domestic violence counselor. She currently provides outpatient services in her agency, Creative Spirits Behavioral and Addiction Health Center. She has served as a conference support therapist for the 2014 Pastors and Leadership Conference for Bishop TD Jakes. Cassandra currently serves as a consultant and therapist for Humana Development Corporation and the Russell Technology Business Incubator initiative for the Academy of Music Production Education and Development (AMPED). Mrs. Harris-Gray has authored and published her first book “90 Days of Power.” She is a women’s empowerment coach for “Power to Exhale,” an international women’s empowerment group. She developed and hosted a YouTube-based web show, “In the Multitude of Counsel,” which helps demystify the stigma of mental health and substance abuse. Mrs Harris-Gray is married to Dr Kilen K. Gray and together they reside in Shelbyville, Ky, along with their 2 daughters.

Contact: cgray@creativespiritsonline.com

 

Dr. JC Gregory

Dr. John C. Gregory currently serves as the executive director, Office of Adult Education, Education and Workforce Development Cabinet for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Dr. Gregory has a Ph.D. in public policy and administration from the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), an M.S. in criminal justice, also from VCU, and a B.A. in history from Virginia Military Institute (VMI).

Prior to his current position, Dr. Gregory was the director, Veterans and Military Student Affairs and assistant professor, School of Public Administration and Government at Kentucky State University. Dr. Gregory served 20 years on active duty in the Army, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. Dr. Gregory is also a lecturer in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Louisville. He is a member of several professional and academic organizations, which include the American Society of Public Administration (ASPA), the National Criminal Justice Honor Society, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the National Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration. Dr. Gregory also serves on the Special Advisory Council for Military Affairs, Robert Morris University and the Advisory Council, Kentucky Center for Veteran Studies, Eastern Kentucky University.

Dr. Gregory is married to the former Alicia Burleigh, a retired Army officer, and they have five adult children: Monique, Thomas, Antoine, Anthony and Avonnia.

Contact: john.gregory@ky.gov

 

Norm Johnson

Norm Johnson is the district executive director of the Downtown YMCA of Greater Louisville. Norm has a B.S. in Recreation/Coaching and a M.A. in Exercise Science. He is a faculty member for the YMCA of the USA in health and fitness, with emphasis on personal training and co-author of the Advanced Resistance Training Techniques course.  A personal trainer for 34 years, he was the strength and conditioning coach for the University of South Dakota track & field teams and a master fitness specialist for the United States Army. Norm has competed in powerlifting on the state and national level and currently holds 14 state and regional records. He won the Iowa Strongest Man Competition in 2004 and was the No. 1 242-pound master class powerlifter in the nation in 2006. Norm holds his Level 1 & 2 CrossFit Certification and is the founder of CrossFit Full Gallop. One of Norm’s greatest passions is to share his motivational presentations in small groups, schools and corporations on healthy living, goal attainment and teamwork. Norm is incredibly proud to serving with a cause-driven organization as the YMCA of Greater Louisville.

Contact: njohnson@ymcalouisville.org; 502-587-2366

 

Ryan Jones

Jones Plastic, founded in 1961 by Louisville natives Harry & Larry Jones, is one of the world’s leading injection molders for the appliance, automotive and power sport vehicle industries. Today, due to the dedication and hard work of our employees, the one-machine operation, which started out making whiskey caps for liquor bottles, has grown into a global operation with five molding facilities in North America, and a subsidiary company, Rev-A-Shelf, with two facilities in Louisville.

Jones Plastic is known not only for our molding expertise, such as pioneering the use of gas assist, high speed molding in the early 90s, but also for our ability to help customers get their products to market quickly. With facilities in Kentucky, Tennessee and three locations in Mexico, Monterrey, Juarez and Juarez Painting and Hydrographics, we are strategically located to help minimize freight, handling and labor costs to our customers.

Rev-A-Shelf, in its 44th year of operation as part of the Jones Plastic corporation, is an industry leader in household organizational storage, convenience and lighting solutions. With over 6,000 products designed, manufactured and distributed out of Louisville, Rev-A-Shelf has a product for every location in the kitchen, bathroom and garage design.

Jones Plastic and Engineering employs 2400 employees worldwide and our plants comprise nearly 1,500,000 square feet.

Ryan Jones works within the Corporate Operations & Engineering teams out of the Louisville office and along with Steve, Creighton and Jennifer is a member of the third generation family-owned business.

Contact: rjones@jonesplastic.com; 502-292-4500

 

Donielle Lovell

Dr. Donielle Lovell is an associate professor of sociology at Western Kentucky University. Her areas of expertise are centered on community development, with an emphasis on criminal justice reform, poverty alleviation and food insecurity. From 2015-2019, she wrote and managed juvenile justice grants on racial disparities in the Hardin County Court Systems. Under this work, the projects focused on where in the system inequities were taking place and then program development to address the disparity. She serves as the co-chair of the Removing Obstacles to Employee committee for the Lincoln Trail Area Development District. In this work with Elizabethtown City Councilwoman Julia Springsteen, they focus on how businesses can be more involved in helping their employees gain a second chance. They piloted an expungement incentive program with Baptist Hardin Health. Dr. Lovell is also the board chair for Warm Blessings Community Kitchen in Elizabethtown which serves over 2,500 hot meals each month to the food insecure of Hardin County. A native of western New York, she is proud to make her home in Elizabethtown, Kentucky.

Contact: donielle.lovell@wku.edu

 

Beth Mickle

Beth Mickle leads production recruiting at GE Appliances, a Haier company. Beth and her team are responsible for recruiting and onboarding over 4,000 new employees in 2021 to staff GE Appliances’ four factories in Louisville.  Beth has over 25 years experience in human resources and has been with GE Appliances for 10 of those years holding multiple roles within the HR and recruiting functions.

During the pandemic, Beth had the unique opportunity to work in one of the factories to help support operations.  That experience showed how important a strong and engaged workforce is to the overall success of the business and it led her to her current role. Beth and her team strive every day to make the GE Appliances’ candidate experience the best it can be.

Contact: beth.mickle@geappliances.com

 

Laurie Miller

Laurie Miller is the project and outreach manager at Dress for Success Louisville Laurie, a graduate of Indiana University Southeast, has worked at Dress for Success Louisville for four years. She was hired to establish and manage the new Mobile Program, which provides career readiness services in 13 counties in Kentucky and Indiana. Since the inception of the Mobile Program in 2018, over 400 women in 10 counties have been assisted. Laurie works with community agencies, building relationships and promoting the services provided by Dress for Success Louisville.

Contact: laurie@dfslou.org

 

Mike Randolph

Mike grew up a product of divorce and addiction. Before he was 24 years old, both of his parents and his two brothers had passed away.

An addict himself, Mike lost his only other support system when his wife filed for divorce after 25 years of him relapsing. The divorce also tore him apart from his children.

Mike then pleaded guilty to a felony robbery charge and was sentenced to seven years in prison. That’s when he was introduced to Goodwill. Members of our reentry team visited the Roederer Correctional Complex in La Grange. Mike was released in April of 2021. Upon release, Mike obtained housing through our reentry services and completed our Reintegrating Individuals Successfully Every Day (RISE) program.

 

Aaron Poynter

Aaron Poynter currently serves as the director of reentry programming for the Cumberlands and South Central Workforce Development Boards. Aaron is a Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Kentucky Department Of Criminal Justice Training. Prior to his role In workforce development, Aaron served as a full-time police officer. Aaron currently serves as president of the young professionals of Lake Cumberland, Board of Directors for the Southern Kentucky Reentry Council, Board of Directors for United Way of South Central Kentucky among additional involvement with other local and regional organizations. Aaron is also an assistant high school football and track coach.

Contact: aaron@lcadd.org

 

Tom Saylor

Tom Saylor serves as a training facilitator for Goodwill Industries of Kentucky in Louisville. In 2021, Tom was named a distinguished nominee as part of the Goodwill Industries Awards Program.

Tom has seen firsthand how Goodwill offers a second chance to those in need. His past has been marked by multiple stints in prison, beginning before he could legally drive a car. When he was released for the last time in a small, Kentucky town, he didn’t know where to turn for employment because he never had a job.

That’s where Goodwill came in. Our career coaches directed Tom to job-readiness training and a position with us. When we began to embrace the reentry community, he found his perfect fit. Now, he’s a training facilitator for our RISE program and gets to share his story with participants.

“Goodwill opened the doors for me, and I walked through them,” he said.

Contact: tom.saylor@goodwillky.org

 

Jon Sowards

Jon Sowards has served as the president and CEO for the South Central Workforce Development Board since February 2021. He’s charged with facilitating a comprehensive workforce system that aligns regional and local economic development strategies, while meeting the needs of South Central Kentucky employers and job seekers.  Jon previously served as the vice president of operations and special projects for the South Central Workforce Development Board, helping develop workforce recruitment and development programs for students, military veterans & spouses, immigrants & refugees and justice-involved individuals.

Prior to his role with the Workforce Board, Jon served in the United States Army during a 24-year career, achieving the rank of lieutenant colonel. Jon’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in human resource management from Western Kentucky University; a Master of Arts/Liberal Arts degree from Louisiana State University and a Master of Science in military operational art and science from Air University. Jon’s professional certifications include: Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and the SHRM Veterans at Work certificate program.

Jon serves as an advisory board member for the Fort Campbell-Nashville USO Chapter and is an active member of both the Military Officers Association of America-Cumberland Chapter and Southern Kentucky Veterans Council.

Contact: jon@southcentralworkforce.com

 

Anita Stringer

Anita Stringer, a graduate of HBCU Kentucky State University — B.S. in office administration & B.A. in business education. She obtained her master’s in secondary education from IUS SouthEast. She is a former high school business teacher back in the 90s and made a career change 15 years ago in human resources. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority for 33 years and also a member of Elim Baptist Church.

“My passion is to be of service to others,” she said, “especially people that have a hard time finding employment because of their background. I want to make a difference in the world to make it a better place to live. Love conquers all.”

Contact: anita.stringer@reynoldsbrands.com

 

Erin Waddell

Erin Waddell, M.Ed., CCAP – policy and advocacy manager of the Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) with Louisville Metro Government’s Office of Resilience and Community Services.

Serving the Office of Resilience and Community Services since 2009 (the city’s social service and community action agency), Erin has extensive experience creating and managing innovative social service programming focused on individual and family empowerment. Leading the Office of Financial Empowerment (OFE) since 2018, Erin strives to ensure that residents in Louisville neighborhoods have the access and opportunities they deserve in order to achieve financial well-being. Louisville’s Office of Financial Empowerment leads and coordinates the Bank On Louisville coalition, coordinates the Community Financial Empowerment Certification and Training Program, is a partner agency in the AcceLOUrate Savings Financial Coaching effort and serves as convener for several local financial empowerment networks. Erin is co-chair of Bank On Louisville and a board member of the Louisville Asset Building Coalition.

Erin is a Certified Community Action Professional (CCAP) and believes in the capability and potential of all members of our community and is dedicated to helping people help themselves and each other.

Holding a master’s degree in counseling psychology, Erin has a background in mental health counseling working with families in the child welfare system.

Contact: erin.waddell@louisvilleky.gov

 

Cheyanne Weathers

Cheyanne is a Louisville native who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Louisville and a Master of Science in management with a concentration in diversity and inclusion from Sullivan University. Cheyanne works as an admission representative for Indiana Tech, where she is pursuing her MBA and works with corporations around Kentuckiana towards retention practices for employees.

Contact: cdweathers@indianatech.edu; 812-599-6080

 

Jimmie Wilson

My name is Jimmie Wilson. I am employed with Eastern Kentucky Concentrated Employment Company (EKCEP) as a justice system coordinator for recovery/reentry programs. My career includes employment as a former school teacher, student personnel manager, business community liaison, job entry and entry support specialist. I have worked with the Head Start program, Floyd County Schools educational system and the Job Corps program over the last 29 years. I joined EKCEP program in 2019 as a job developer/retention and reentry specialist for a new statewide program eKART (Eastern Kentucky Addiction & Recovery Training), where I have been assisting people in the region find gainful employment and link them to other services; and meeting with businesses to discuss transitional employment. I look forward to my new role working with drug courts and reentry programs throughout the commonwealth. I currently serve on the Floyd Co. Chamber as immediate past chair, Southeast Chamber board member, Turning Point Domestic Violence board member and chair of the Eastern KY Reentry Council. I am a graduate of Morehead State University with a B.A. in Early Childhood Education.

 

Myra Wilson

Myra Wilson is the director of Workforce Development for the Cumberlands Workforce Area. The counties she supports include Adair, Casey, Clinton, Cumberland, Green, Laurel, McCreary, Pulaski, Rockcastle, Russell, Taylor, Wayne and Whitley. Shas spent almost 20 years in high volume recruiting across North America and Canada. She has 30 years of experience recruiting workforces and management team members. Her current job provides access to assist companies and well as help individuals to remove barriers which allows development of the workforce.

Contact: myra@lcadd.org; 270-866-4200