Cassie Anderson’s Extraordinary Journey from CEO Participant to Employee

Jun 03, 2021   |  By Eric Borsuk

“I was hungry for an opportunity that would breathe new life into me.”

Before becoming a CEO participant, Cassie Anderson confesses that her life was in shambles. She remembers sleepless nights, homeless in her truck, and trapped in an abusive, long-term relationship that ultimately led to her incarceration.

Following her incarceration, Cassie returned to Memphis. As someone with an immense passion for caregiving, she was devastated to learn that, due to her conviction, she would no longer be able to work as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). So, she started applying to various local businesses, but all of her applications were denied. As she started to lose hope, Cassie remembers praying to God and asking for help.

“For a long time, I battled with thinking that the system had failed me. But you know what? I had to remind myself that for every action, there’s a reaction, whether it’s good or bad.”

It wasn’t long after that Cassie received a phone call from her probation officer about an upcoming job fair, and she immediately jumped at the opportunity. About twelve different companies attended the event and Cassie applied to every single one of them.

“I was hungry for an opportunity that would breathe new life into me.”

Before leaving, Cassie double-checked to make sure that she had visited every booth, but she realized that one had been overlooked, the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO).

CEO representatives Christina Moore and Brandon Cox explained to Cassie how their organization helps individuals on probation or parole find immediate, temporary employment. As luck would have it, there was an upcoming orientation later in the week. Before the conversation had even ended, Cassie had already made up her mind—she was determined to attend the meeting.

After leaving the job fair that day, Cassie says that she didn’t even think twice about the other companies.

“I felt an immediate connection with the CEO team. Their energy was welcoming.”

After orientation, Cassie began working with the Memphis city parks department, and then later with a CEO site crew at the Tennessee Department of Transportation. In CEO’s model, transitional work crews receive on-the-job training and coaching from their site supervisors. She says that the work was tough, but she refused to give up.

“Quitting was not an option!”

Every week, Cassie met with her job coach to discuss employment opportunities. At the time, CEO was hiring Site Supervisors in Memphis. However, Cassie assumed that those types of positions only went to men, and so she had never applied.

Then one day, out of the blue, Cassie was called to her job coach’s office, where she found CEO’s Memphis County Director at the time, Adrena Jackson. Mrs. Jackson had noticed Cassie’s hard work and encouraged her to apply for the Site Supervisor position.

Determined to achieve her goals, Cassie immediately applied for the job. By the end of the week, she had acquired her driver’s license, which was one of the requirements for the position. Before she knew it, CEO offered her the Site Supervisor position, and it was only upwards from there.

Cassie, a mother of two, has been with the CEO Memphis site for the past two years. She says that she’ll always be invested in the Center for Employment Opportunities and considers them to be her family. Cassie was recently promoted to Retention Specialist and is thrilled to serve in a role again that allows her to help others.

“My goal is to ensure that all participants fully understand the process of coming through the program so that everyone has a rewarding experience from beginning to end. If you can believe it, you can definitely achieve it!”