Careers at NLEN

NLEN is Hiring Up to Scale Up and Increase Impact! 

The North Lawndale Employment Network has been preparing for this moment. Over the past several years, the board, in partnership with executive leadership, has strengthened our culture of accountability. We have done this by recruiting and retaining board members that understand the inseparable link between money and mission. We have intentionally raised the capacity of staff to craft effective strategy and execute with a sense of urgency, discipline, a focus on learning, continuous improvement, and shared accountability.

Now, through strategic community partnerships with LISC and Heartland Alliance, the North Lawndale Employment Network is pleased and prepared to scale our work and advance our mission of improving the quality of life through innovative initiatives that lead to economic advancement and an improved quality of life by hiring dynamic professionals, well-skilled, committed and inspired to create a just and equitable society in alignment with NLEN and our social enterprise, Sweet Beginnings LLC core values and beliefs.

We are seeking candidates for several positions to work on a team in partnership with Heartland Alliance’s READI program created to connect disconnected young adults to jobs, training and comprehensive support services to reduce crime and violence and create pathways for an improved quality of life. Please note, these READI job positions are fully funded for three years and may extend beyond. Two of these positions are leadership roles to scale our social enterprise, Sweet Beginnings LLC, which produces local honey and skincare products under the beelove brand as we scale the business as a result of a loan secured through Benefit Chicago.

Sweet Beginnings LLC Operations Manager

We are looking for an outstanding business and operations leader with a heart for those who need second chances to lead our Sweet Beginnings, LLC social enterprise team in North Lawndale, located on the West Side of Chicago. We’re looking for someone with an established record of results, and organizational leadership, who has a deep interest in understanding honey and honeybees and a passion for helping men and women gain employment after incarceration. We want someone who loves our honey-infused artisanal products, embraces our triple-bottom-line mission, and is invigorated by innovating creative solutions to scale up a small business.  This position will operate at an intermediate level or above in online QuickBooks.


What you’ll do

  • Assist Chief Operations Officer, Sales Manager and Apiary Manager in the recruitment, training, and development of the Operations Team Members
  • Manage the daily Production and Customer Service activities for beelove® products
  • Ensure production activities are compliant with all federal and state health and safety regulations and meet Ensures products meet Sweet Beginnings high quality and branding standards
  • Manage all production related Inventories (raw material, packaging and finished goods)
  • Plan, conduct and track safety, sanitation, health and inventory training programs
  • Plan, communicate and manage associate work schedules in conjunction management staff
  • Manage the customer order process ensuring all orders (email, phone, letters, etc.) are entered into the production planning process daily and managed through successful delivery
  • Manage customer issues and concerns and resolve them or negotiate to a win-win solution
  • Manage the shipping and receiving processes ensuring on time damage free deliveries
  • Support Sales Manager by preparing products and equipment for transport to the outreach, demonstration, and networking events
  • Assist Chief Operations Officer in analysis of revenue results in order to devise marketing and revenue growth strategies and to accurately forecast annual, quarterly and monthly revenue
  • Identifies objectives, strategies and action plans to improve short- and long-term sales and earnings in conjunction with the Chief Operations Officer
  • Maintain high levels of communication and transparency with management, cross-functional teams, and business partners
  • Foster and cultivate a fun team spirit and energy that breeds and harvests ongoing success


Who you are

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Manufacturing, Warehousing or business related discipline preferred.
  • Minimum of a 2 years’ leadership experience in a fast-paced warehouse, manufacturing or food service business.
  • You have intermediate (or higher) knowledge of online QuickBooks, and Microsoft Excel
  • Strong project management skills managing multifaceted projects resulting in measurable successes and program growth
  • You are a strong team leader who flourishes with mentoring, developing and nurturing raw talent and individuals with limited work experience
  • You are operationally sound and able to anticipate many of the challenges that a growing small business will face and provide proactive solutions in critical operational areas
  • You are highly motivated and entrepreneurial and willing to thrive in a start-up atmosphere, with the ability to be flexible as we grow the business
  • You are familiar with responding to complex business problems and have experience with developing and managing budgets and forecasting financial projections
  • You think strategically and can act quickly on your feet
  • You are experienced in building and delivering on strategic partnerships with high value agencies, civic stakeholders and employees
  • You have great written and oral communication skills and are able to interact with any audience regardless of background


Who we are

Sweet Beginnings, LLC is a wholly owned subsidiary of the North Lawndale Employment Network, a highly acclaimed urban workforce development non-profit (501c3). We know the United States incarcerates more people than any other country in the world. Today, 2.3 million people are living behind bars in the United States, and 90% of these men and women will return to their neighborhoods and their families with a priority of seeking employment.  We also know that honeybees pollinate one-third of our food supply and their numbers continue to dwindle.  We also believe that while both bees and recently incarcerated people are misunderstood, together they are creating a market-driven solution to mass incarceration, and raising awareness in urban markets of the importance of honeybees in our eco-system. We offer full-time transitional jobs to citizens returning from incarceration in a green industry—the production and sales of all-natural skin care products featuring our own urban honey under the beelove™ brand.


We extract our honey from our all natural urban apiary in the heart of the North Lawndale community in Chicago. Our honey is known for its complex flavor, a result of the varied flora of our urban environment. Our beelove™ skin care products are of exceptional quality and are all unique in their use of the natural gift of honey as a moisturizer. Not only do we respect the earth in the production of our products, but we also provide important transitional job opportunities for area residents who struggle with barriers to employment.


What’s the buzz…? Our national, regional, and local coverage


November 2017

Women’s Day Magazine, in the “Beauty for a Cause” feature (page 33)


August 2017



July 2017

The Chicago Citizen –


June 2017

Windy City Live –


Salary:  $45k


To Apply

Provide a cover letter, resume and salary history and email to  When emailing, please place ‘SB Operations Manager’ on the subject line.



READI’s GOAL is to: Decrease shootings and homicides among those at highest risk of gun violence; create new opportunities for these same individuals to change their life trajectory and decrease their involvement with the criminal justice system; and help build an infrastructure at the community level to promote long-term safety and opportunity in Chicago’s most impoverished communities.

To apply for the following position(s), please email and place the title of the position you are applying for in the subject line. 



Job Summary: The Crew Manager is responsible for supervising and coaching Crew Chiefs, managing day-to-day crew site logistics and operations (e.g., assigning new members to a crew, responding to worker absences and weather, managing tools and vehicles), and adhering to all READI Chicago implementation requirements. Crew Managers will be energetic, flexible, collaborative, and proactive — team leaders who positively and productively support transitional workers.


Supervise and support crew chiefs:

  • Provide guidance for managing challenges
  • Conduct performance reviews and guide performance improvement
  • Coach crew chiefs on their role in providing constructive supervision that facilitates skill development
  • Recruit, hire, and train qualified crew chiefs

When necessary, perform all duties performed by crew chiefs:

  • Supervise work crews at worksites and ensure work is adequately performed
  • Transport work crews and equipment to and from worksites
  • Provide guidance and feedback to workers regarding successful workplace behavior
  • Ensure worksite safety and security Manage work crew logistics and operations:
  • Create and execute daily schedule for work crew locations and tasks
  • Assign transitional workers to work crews daily in order to ensure worksite coverage
  • Monitor and evaluate work crew performance and quality of work
  • Monitor transitional worker hours in order to avoid overages


  • 1-2 years’ managerial experience directly supervising staff
  • Bachelor’s degree preferred
  • Business and project management experience preferred, especially in the fields of maintenance and landscaping
  • Strong written and verbal communications skills
  • Excellent organizational skills
  • Knowledge of workforce development and employment services for chronically unemployed individuals or individuals experiencing poverty
  • Willingness to be trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and trauma-informed care and applying those principles in daily work
  • Commitment to the mission and values of READI Chicago, as demonstrated by a professional approach that is strength-based, trauma-informed, inclusive, and grounded in human rights
  • Individuals with criminal records and other lived experience are encouraged to apply



Job Summary: Crew Chiefs are responsible for supervising, supporting, and inspiring transitional workers and adhering to all READI Chicago implementation requirements. Crew Chiefs will be energetic, flexible, collaborative, and proactive — team leaders who positively and productively support transitional workers.


  • Supervise a work crew of 5-10 transitional workers in the performance of a variety of tasks, primarily outdoor work such as landscaping, clearing vacant lots, and cleaning sidewalks and alleys
  • Set team goals and ensure that work crews complete tasks and objectives to a high standard and in a timely fashion
  • Set individual goals, assign specific tasks to individual workers, and set expectations for their completion
  • Manage the transportation, distribution, maintenance, and storage of all equipment and tools associated with crew tasks
  • Ensure worker safety by monitoring worksites for hazardous conditions and monitoring workers for appropriate use of tools and materials
  • Respond to safety incidents and other relevant incidents according to policies and procedures
  • Safely drive transitional workers to and from work sites in company vehicle


  • Basic reading, writing, and math skills
  • Valid driver’s license
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Time management skills
  • Some prior management experience preferred
  • Knowledge of building maintenance, landscaping, grounds keeping, and/or related trades
  • Motivated, energetic, and skilled at relationship building and team building
  • Exercises good judgement about when to notify manager about incidents, etc.
  • Individuals with criminal records and other lived experience are encouraged to apply



Job Summary:  Senior coaches are responsible for providing job coaching and case management support to a small cohort of participants, supervising coaches and providing expertise as needed to coaches in their work with participants, and adhering to all READI Chicago implementation requirements. Coaches will be energetic, flexible, collaborative, and proactive team members who positively and productively support high-risk participants.


Supervise and support coaches in their duties:

  • Provide guidance for managing challenges
  • Conduct performance reviews and guide performance improvement
  • Recruit, hire, and train coaches

When necessary perform any and all duties performed by coaches:

  • Provide one-on-one case management
  • Develop individual success plans for participants
  • Identify support service needs and connect participants to appropriate services
  • Provide job search assistance and support development of job search skills
  • Develop and lead work-readiness coursework and activities
  • Guide participants through transitional work experience and advancement opportunities Manage orientation process for new participants:
  • Provide an accurate overview of what participants can expect from READI Chicago including hours, wages, services, activities, and advancement pathways
  • Accurately communicate expectations for participants, READI Chicago policies and procedures
  • Ensure that all necessary paperwork is completed in order for participants to begin transitional employment
  • Communicate any essential information regarding the Crime Lab’s study and gather all required data
  • Deliver an introduction to the cognitive-behavioral curricula and prepare participants to engage in CBT work on the subsequent Friday
  • Organize and manage Friday developmental (“5th day”) activities:
  • Become trained as a lead facilitator for selected cognitive-behavioral curricula, and facilitate weekly cognitive-behavioral group sessions
  • Coordinate and schedule internal and external content providers and service providers such as asset building, child support assistance, record expungement, parenting, etc.
  • Develop and/or identify work-readiness curriculum, implement curriculum, and schedule and supervise weekly work-readiness coursework



Job Summary: Coaches are responsible for providing job coaching and case management support to participants and adhering to all READI Chicago implementation requirements. Coaches will be energetic, flexible, collaborative, and proactive team members who positively and productively support high-risk participants.


Manage a caseload of READI Chicago participants:

  • Conduct one-on-one coaching sessions with participants and facilitate the development of individual success plans
  • Review daily performance reports from Crew Chiefs and address any issues that emerge,
  • Develop and maintain referral relationships for a range of support services and connect participants to appropriate services as needed,
  • Become trained as a facilitator for cognitive-behavioral group work, and co-facilitate weekly cognitive-behavioral group sessions
  • Participate in trainings to learn the principles of trauma-informed care, motivational interviewing, conflict de-escalation, harm reduction, and other relevant concepts, and apply that knowledge in daily interactions with READI Chicago participants
  • When participants are ready to advance, work with participants to determine the advancement opportunities they want to pursue, and connect them with appropriate opportunities
  • Perform assessments for participant career interests and aptitudes in order to match them with subsidized employment tasks, unsubsidized employment opportunities, and appropriate training
  • Lead work-readiness and job search skills instruction, including “soft skills”, resume preparation, interviewing skills, job search techniques, and related topics
  • Act as an intermediary between workers and employers when issues arise in the workplace
  • Participate in case conferences with other READI Chicago staff to discuss service delivery plans for participants
  • Complete and submit all necessary paperwork, data entry, and reporting in a timely fashion
  • Work closely with other READI Chicago staff across the network to provide seamless support to program participants



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Sweet Beginnings