Success Stories

Since inception, Cincinnati Works has helped thousands of individuals to work their way out of poverty and build a better life for themselves and their families. Members are proud to share their ongoing stories of success, and we have compiled a few of them on this page to give you insight into how Cincinnati Works changes lives.


Aisla Hall
Next Step Member

Aisla and CW Professional Development Coach Latonio, who accompanied her to court appearances

Aisla and CW Professional Development Coach Latonio, who accompanied her to court appearances

Aisla came to Cincinnati Works as a single mother with her 8-year-old daughter to care for. She was having trouble finding employment due in part to a misdemeanor on her record. Cincinnati Works took her through the expungement process step by step, connecting her with our partner Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati and accompanying her to court appearances. Aisla found employment, and over a year later she is still with the same employer.

She has since been able to purchase a car, allowing her to switch to night classes so that she can continue studying for her bachelor’s degree. Aisla and her daughter work on their homework together every night. "My daughter’s grades are excellent right now," Aisla states. "She wants to do it because she sees me doing it. She understands where we were, and she understands where we are trying to be."


Michael Powers
Phoenix & Advancement Member

Michael Powers

Michael Powers

Phoenix Member Michael Powers is a study in determination. Powers explains, "Six years ago I was released from prison and all I owned were the clothes on my back. At the time of my incarceration, I decided to change my life, my way of thinking, my way of praying … the total package."

Powers found a series of odd jobs but none offered any real long-term stability. Feeling that he needed to make a new start, he left California and reunited with an old friend living in Ohio. Powers continues, "I arrived in Ohio and immediately started looking for work. After having door after door shut in my face because of my criminal background, I eventually heard about Cincinnati Works and went in to see what it was all about. I filled out an application and began the process of my fantastic journey."

That process began with the Job Readiness Workshop, which includes instruction on how to properly indicate a criminal background on job applications and how to address resulting difficult questions during an interview. Powers had always wanted to be a driver, but had been misinformed about restrictions resulting from his criminal convictions. When he met with our legal coordinator – who sat down with Powers, pulled up his criminal record, and was able to correct his misconceptions – employment opportunities that Powers had written off were revealed as viable.

Powers immediately met with his employment coach, who works specifically with Phoenix Members and utilizes a pool of employer partners who consider qualified ex-offenders. Just five days later, Powers was contacted for an interview. He was at Cincinnati Works when he received the call. He is now a driver for a trucking company, bringing in a wage that has allowed him to reach economic self-sufficiency.

Powers says, "I am now employed full time with a real future. I have the desire of finishing my education in sociology. I want to be a motivator, especially of young people, and let them know they can improve their self-worth."


Cori Miles
Next Step Member

Cori Miles

Cori Miles

When Cori came to Cincinnati Works, she was 18 and had recently aged out of foster care. At 7½ months pregnant, Cori needed to quickly earn a consistent paycheck. She completed the Job Readiness Workshop and found work with two employers. Our financial coach assisted Cori in applying for childcare vouchers and referred her to a CW community partner (4C for Children) who offers info about quality childcare providers and parenting practices.

Cori was still struggling as a single mother with two jobs and two children. Cori and her employment coach discussed her difficulties regarding transportation. Cori worked with the financial coach to establish a budget that would allow her to begin saving for a car. She stuck to that budget and recently made the down payment. While Cori’s journey is far from complete, she now has dependable income and a vehicle which allows her to spend more time with her children.


Harold D’Souza
Advancement Member

Harold D'Souza

"Cincinnati Works got our family freedom and has transformed our lives forever." –Harold D’Souza

I came to Cincinnati, with my wife Dancy and two sons Bradly, age 7, and Rohan, age 4 in February 2003 with U.S. $1,000 cash and an American Dream. Little did we know that in 48 hours of our landing both would be gone. The perpetrator took the $1,000 cash from me, saying, "It is not safe to keep cash in this country, and I will keep it in safe custody with me and I will give it to you when you need it." My family came on trust, faith, and a promise – the promise of a good job, great salary, and fabulous opportunity for our kids.

After six months, the perpetrator tricked me into signing documents and took a bank loan in my name. In astonishment, I found that I owed him a very huge debt, which I would never be able to pay in my life time. Seeing our two boys suffer is what shook and broke me. Our life was like a frog in a well; we never knew what was happening outside. I felt lost.

Luckily, in 2008, our parish directed me to Cincinnati Works. At Cincinnati Works I was connected to various community partners and law enforcement agencies. This transformed our lives by giving us courage and hope, leading us to have faith in the justice system. Cincinnati Works got me a job at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Once employed, they began helping me with financial planning for my new income. In June 2011, we became proud owners of a house. Cincinnati Works educated and invited my family to attend financial seminars, legal assistance, advancement services, and regular counseling. After 133 months of our glorious journey in America, our entire family received permanent residency cards: our ultimate freedom of life. I was saved.


Benn McNeil
Advancement Member

Benn McNeil

"A career is an ongoing process, not a destination. Cincinnati Works is important because it has resources you can consult any day of that process." –Benn McNeil

When Benn came to Cincinnati Works in 2006 his life was in disarray. He was recently divorced with custody of his two young sons, without a job and living with his parents. With an unstable work history, student loans to pay and children to support, Benn knew he needed a steady job and fast.

Working with his Employment Coach, Benn realized that the key to moving forward was to have a plan that he could follow to reach his employment and financial goals. Benn concluded that he needed to look for a different type of work, which led him to accept a position with his current employer, Bromwell’s, in March 2011.

With his employment stabilizing and with a benefits package that included medical insurance for himself and his boys, Benn began to turn his attention to his finances. He met with his Cincinnati Works Advancement and Financial Coach who helped him establish a budget, pay down his debt, and save to purchase a car.

In 2013, he purchased a car and was able to finance it at a low interest rate because of his improved credit score. In 2014, Benn was able to able to buy a home in a safe neighborhood for himself and his two sons. Best of all, Benn has his self-esteem and his self-respect back. He credits his parents and Cincinnati Works for helping him move his life forward.


Melanie Kershaw
Job Readiness Member

Melanie with her CW Financial Coach, Shauntel

Melanie with her CW Financial Coach, Shauntel

Melanie came to Cincinnati Works after losing her job and then her apartment. She attempted to find new employment on her own, but says, "I got to the point where I just couldn’t take it anymore. I had been looking and looking, and I just felt like what I was doing wasn’t enough." So her sister, also a Member, suggested she give Cincinnati Works a try.

Upon graduating from the Job Readiness Workshop, Melanie met with the Cincinnati Works Financial Coach, Shauntel. Melanie explained that she was currently living with her sister, but her sister was moving so she needed a place of her own right away. Shauntel went over a packet of housing resources with Melanie and explained that she could access those resources by calling Central Access Point, a centralized intake system for families and individuals who are currently experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of becoming homeless.

Melanie was put in contact with Freestore Foodbank, a CW Community Partner. Because Melanie was participating in the Cincinnati Works program and could prove she was actively seeking employment, she qualified for a program that would pay her rent until she was back on her own feet.

With her housing taken care of, Melanie was able to focus on her job search. Her employment coach, Nancy, suggested she put in an application at Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, a CW Employer Partner.

Melanie received a job offer, but it involved months of training before she could start as a black jack dealer. Melanie was able to complete the training because Cincinnati Works provided her transportation assistance in the form of bus tokens. She says, "I had no money to get back and forth. The transportation assistance helped me a whole lot. Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to get the job."

Melanie says, "’I was so happy to start working. When I saw that first check, I was like, ‘Oh my, I’ve never made this much money in my life.’"

On September 2nd, Melanie celebrated reaching One Year at One Job – a major Cincinnati Works milestone.

Melanie continues to work with her financial coach, who encourages her to budget and save. Following Shauntel’s guidance, Melanie was recently able to purchase her own car. She proudly exclaims, "After riding the bus to work for almost a year, I have a car!" She says that in addition to making her work commute easier, the car allows her more time with her adult son, also a CW Member. Before purchasing the car, their busy schedules paired with a lack of transportation had made it difficult for them to see one another.

Melanie says, "Cincinnati Works helped me figure out me. They helped me figure out what I really wanted and the courage to reach for something that I thought was out of my element. Without them I would have never been able to do it."


The Cincinnati Works staff is a dedicated and passionate group of people who believe in the fundamental resiliency of people. Often we have to believe in our Members before they believe in themselves. Our staff works one-on-one with our Members helping them to overcome their obstacles to employment as well as monitoring their progress after they are employed.

Peggy Zink, Chief Executive Officer

Peggy Zink, Chief Executive Officer

Peggy Zink brings over 20 years of consulting experience with Andersen Consulting, Fidelity Investments, and T-Point Consulting plus a masters in pastoral ministry to her current role as Chief Executive Officer of Cincinnati Works. She has been intimately involved in the Greater Cincinnati community since 1993 when she led the strategic planning efforts of the United Way of Greater Cincinnati. She currently sits on the board of several community organizations that focus on economic empowerment, education, and poverty alleviation. These include: CSR Academy, Employers Resource Association, Leadership Council of Human Service Executives, Flywheel Cincinnati, The Athenaeum of Ohio, Saint Ursula Academy, and Christ the King/Cardinal Pacelli School.

Peggy has surrounded herself with a team of strong employees that she trusts, allowing her to give staff the necessary range to fully explore and utilize their talents.

Cincinnati Works Staff:

Christina Black, Employer Relations Specialist

Derrell Black, Professional Development Coach

Terana Boyd, Job Search Assistant (Roselawn)

Carol Buschhaus, Training Facilitator

Mike Cheney, CFO

Eric Cepela, Marketing & PR Manager

Tevis Clark, Professional Development Coach

Belinda Coulter, CSR & Intake Coordinator

Rae Demoisey, Job Search Assistant*

Shauntel Dobbins, Professional Development Coach

Jacque Edmerson, Director of Clinical Services

Sharlene Finkelstein, Manager of Administrative Services

Amanda Haney, Staffing Specialist

Yolanda Hill, Professional Development Coach

Shawnte Hodge, Professional Development Coach

Linda Humphries, Recruiter/Chaplain

Alison Hurt, Financial Coach

Kristina Johnson, Advancement & Financial Coach

Cynthia Lamb, President of National Replication Office

Amanda Mangas, Development Officer

Nancy McKee, Sr. Professional Development Coach

Vickie Mertz, Trainer & Volunteer Coordinator

Mitchell Morris, Phoenix Outreach & Mentoring

Glenna Parks, Director, National Replication

Heath Parks, Systems & Process Analyst

Dave Phillips, Co-Founder

Liane Phillips, Co-Founder

Sheila Quarles, Professional Development Coach*

Tereza Ramseur, Program Director – CityLink

Mary Pat Raupach, Director of Recruiting & Member Education

Taisha Rojas-Parker, Director of Workforce Solutions

Susan Roschke, Grants & Compliance Officer

Michael Sickles, Navigator Coordinator

Karen Sieber, Director of External Relations

Shirley Smith, Communication Specialist

Calista Stone, Vice-President of Programs

Nina Terry, Professional Development Coach*

Billie Vega, Professional Development Coach (YWCA)

Edna Williams, CSR & Administrative Coordinator

Ken Wilson, Community Engagement Specialist

Jessica Wright, Director of Employer Engagement

Peggy Zink, Chief Executive Officer

*at our CityLink Center location