A Life Sentence: Understanding and Breaking Down the Barrier of a Criminal Background to Work

WEDNESDAY 3:00 PM – 4:15 PM | Racial Equity, Healthcare – Fountain Room

Across the country, systemic barriers disproportionally affect people of color thus narrowing employment possibilities for individuals and talent pools for businesses. Understanding the economic cost of legal restrictions that block access to jobs long after a sentence is served, and awareness of what changes can be made to improve equity and competitiveness without compromising public safety is imperative. This session will explore research from Northeast Ohio quantifying the economic cost of excluding workers with a criminal background and lift up two examples of health care employers in Greater Chicago that are working to expand access to health care careers to those who are typically excluded.


  • Adrian Esquivel, Deputy Director, Chicagoland Workforce Funder Alliance (Moderator)
  • John Figiel, Sinai Health Systems
  • Grace Heffernan, Senior Project Manager, Special Projects, Towards Employment
  • Clayton Pryor, Advocate Aurora Health