Creating Meaningful Partnerships with Local Employers – an Interview with Lani Peterson

Pictured Above: Cascade Employment Partner, The Bishop Hotel – downtown Port Townsend. 

At Cascade, we strive to build lasting relationships with local employers who are passionate about building a more inclusive workplace and community. For our latest blog post, Program Director and Employment Consultant Lani Peterson details how these relationships are formed and how our Supported Employment program goes about matching qualified candidates with reliable, well-paying jobs.  

Q. How does a partnership between Cascade and a local business develop? 

Lani: In a small town like Port Townsend, developing connections with small businesses is critical because most of the businesses are just that–small. So for example, Cascade had heard that The Bishop Hotel, in downtown Port Townsend, was going through new ownership. We sent out a couple of job developers to meet with the new owners, who were open to making new connections and determined that one of our clients could fit some of their needs. We are really fortunate to know some exceptionally delightful clients, so once we were able to make the match, our connection with The Bishop flourished. Our candidate wants to work, and he works very hard. We are grateful that the owners of The Bishop were ready to work with a gentleman with his abilities.

Q. What role does a Supported Employment Specialist play in creating and/or fulfilling job opportunities? What is their role after an individual is hired? 

Lani: Job creation is a very personalized endeavor. Often referred to as job carving, it is sculpting a position from the building blocks of an organization. There is delicacy and precision in finding the right angle for an approach.  The Employment Specialist has to not only envision how a client can fit into a niche in the business; they must also capture the imagination of the representative from each level in the business hierarchy until they finally reach the person who has the authority to actuate the project.  Without an understanding of the culture of the company, the motivations of its employees, and where they draw their bottom line, the Employment Specialist would come across a stumbling block where instead there could have been a masterpiece of collaboration.

Once a client has started in their position, the Employment Specialist works hard to help the client reach their highest level of independence.  Sometimes, that looks like finding training opportunities for clients to improve relations with their management and coworkers.  Other times, this involves identifying barriers to success and working with the client to find the most appropriate accommodations for their workspace.  Each client has different needs, and an effective Employment Specialist will ensure that a client’s experience is centered on them at every opportunity.

Lani Peterson, Program Manager and Employment Consultant

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