Iowa Workforce Development Congratulates Iowa Job Honor Award Honorees

For Immediate Release
Date: October 12, 2017
Contact: Cory Kelly
Telephone: 515-330-5646

Iowa Workforce Development Congratulates Iowa Job Honor Award Honorees

DES MOINES, IOWA – Two individuals nominated by Iowa Workforce Development (IWD) were honored during the fourth annual Iowa Job Honor Awards ceremony, held today during the Iowa Society for Human Resource Management state conference.

“In a society that celebrates movie stars and professional athletes for relatively minor “accomplishments” it is refreshing and inspiring to participate in an event that celebrates the heroes next door who work hard every day to overcome significant employment barriers and the employers who hire them,” said Beth Townsend, Director of Iowa Workforce Development.

Honorees in the employee category were Steven Shewry of Ottumwa and Tonya Millard of Edgewood.  Steve  successfully found and maintained employment following his release from prison. Tonya overcame ageism she experienced while trying to find meaningful employment.

Shewry was nominated by Workforce Advisor Brett Reyes.  Shewry participated in the Iowa Prison Registered Apprenticeship program in welding, earning his certification prior to release.  Reyes helped Shewry find a job at Winger Contracting in Ottumwa so that he could walk out of confinement and into a job that aided significantly into his move back to becoming a productive member of society because it provided sustainable wages and growth opportunities.  

James Sigwarth, a Workforce Advisor in the IowaWORKS office in Dubuque, nominated Tonya Millard. Sigwarth engaged Millard with role playing scenarios to help her overcome negative perceptions about her age by instead focusing on her energy, experience and passion for giving back to the community. Millard landed a job as Executive Director of Social Services at the YMCA/YWCA in Dubuque..

“Everyday, IWD and IowaWORKS employees help their fellow Iowans find jobs and overcome barriers to employment,” Townsend said. “We are honored to have the opportunity to work closely with both Tonya and Steve as they are outstanding examples of the assistance and support we can provide.  Neither Tonya or Steve ever gave up and their resilience, persistence and hard work paid off.”

Honorees in the organizational category were SSI Digital of Storm Lake and the Animal Rescue League of Iowa in Des Moines. Top employee honorees received $500 each, and winners in both the employee and employer categories received engraved awards. Biographical videos are presented for all honorees.

The Iowa Job Honor Awards (IA-JHA) celebrates Iowans who overcome significant barriers to employment, and the employers who hire them. IA-JHA’s mission is to rekindle hope and energize the work ethic across Iowa, through the celebration of a new kind of hero.


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