My persistence started at a young age. As a sophomore in high school, I started running cross country, and quickly earned a varsity letter. As an adult in my late 30’s, I had the notion that I would run a marathon before turning 40, and ran my first one in Madison, Wisconsin at age 39. Eventually it became a goal to run 50 marathons, one in each state. I reached that goal on June 17, 2017, in Newport, Oregon.
More than 20 years ago, I had a conversation with my friend Dave, who mentioned a tax credit that was available to companies hiring ex-felons and people on food stamps. I nearly fell out of my chair. It stunned me. Why had I never heard of tax credits for hiring before? With previous experience in finance and the technology software industry, I knew I had the technical skills, selling skills and business skills that I’d used in finance. I focused all my energy on learning as much as I could about it. In 1998, I started R. Jeffrey & Associates, Inc.
My love of networking helped me immensely. Early on I met a CPA, and his business was in fast food, which helped me start to get entrenched in the McDonald’s system. I became involved in the National Black McDonald’s Owners Association (NBMOA), the largest organization of established African American entrepreneurs in the world. I also connected with the Women Operators Network (WON), dedicated to the expansion of entrepreneurial opportunities for women throughout the McDonald’s franchise system. I started traveling all over the country to trade shows to tell NBMOA and WON about these tax credits, getting some national visibility. I was a pioneer in bringing WOTC to McDonald’s and connecting them in person to this great program. McDonald’s quickly realized that what I did was of great value.
I met people from around the country, and the business grew, from referrals, and from the fast-food industry. I spread the word that there’s a bonus for hiring people who have barriers to employment. We’re helping people get jobs, which helps their self-worth, their community, and helps their tax situation. We’re helping people get from the recipient side of benefits to the contributing side of benefits.