Creative Employment Opportunities (CEO) provides customized workforce solutions by connecting businesses to qualified candidates with disabilities.
History of CEO
Creative Employment Opportunities, Inc. (CEO) is a private company which assists individuals with disabilities in obtaining and maintaining employment in the community. CEO was incorporated in June 1991 as a for-profit employment agency designed to connect the business and disability communities. In January 2014, CEO became a nonprofit 501(c)3 company.
CEO was founded by Laura Owens who was a public school teacher (Racine Unified School District, Milwaukee Public Schools) working with students with significant disabilities. Despite having resumes that included work experiences at the VA Hospital, Wausau Insurance, the Marcus Corporation and other local businesses, when her students graduated, they were relegated to either staying at home or attending segregated-facility based programs. Frustrated by the lack of integrated work opportunities, she started an employment agency specifically for individuals with disabilities.
CEO was founded with the belief that all individuals, regardless of their disability, can and should work in the community. We distinguish ourselves by providing high quality, individualized services that are customized to meet the needs of each customer (business and job seekers with disabilities). Our goal is to provide each customer with a resource that can assist them in all aspects of employment.
Services for job seekers include assessment (i.e., identifying interests & skills); internships, individualized job development, and on or off the job support. CEO provides individualized services to job seekers with disabilities by customizing all services to their needs. Services for businesses include training and technical assistance to educate and build employer capacity to reach out to one of the strongest labor & customer pools in the country – the disability community. CEO associates also provide training and technical assistance in various areas of interest regarding disability employment, employee diversity, and other areas of training to businesses and other organizations.
CEO started in 1991 in the basement of Laura’s duplex. Milwaukee County provided a small contract to obtain integrated employment for three individuals. The following year, all three individuals were employed and CEO received a full year contract. That same year, CEO applied to become a vendor for the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). In 1993, CEO moved to an office in Wauwatosa, above Ray’s Liquor Store. Continuing to grow, CEO moved to the Third Ward where we resided at 219 N. Milwaukee Street from 1998-2003. During this time, CEO began contracting with local school districts to provide transition services in employment and utilizing Social Security Work Incentives. In 2003, philanthropist Bernie Peck offered to turn the lower level of the Water Street Garage into office space for CEO which served as our base until 2015. Currently CEO can be found in the Schlitz office park across the river from the Water Street Garage.