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Human-Centered Design: Hiring “Experts” at A2J Tech.

Joseph Schieffer
January 10, 2020

At A2J Tech, we believe that to most effectively improve access to justice, any tool, website, or app needs to be designed in collaboration with the intended users. One of the ways that we ensure that we understand users' needs is by hiring people who have interacted with assistance programs such as SNAP, TANF, Medicaid, or legal aid. We call them "experts."

Joseph's sister-in-law, Meredith Buschart, is a social worker and shares Joseph's passion for social justice. Meredith keeps Joseph in the loop about community events related to social justice.

One of the events that Meredith invited Joseph to was an education session put on by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless about barriers to employment. Joseph attended the session and connected with one of the panelists, Brian Vander Heiden. Joseph and Brian discussed how A2J Tech could employ people who are both struggling to find employment and have experience in navigating public assistance programs, in order to design human-centered solutions for A2J Tech's legal aid clients.

Joseph was excited about the possibilities of collaborating with Brian and other workforce development programs, but struggled to get responses from the workforce development program coordinators. Then the most amazing thing happened! A few months after the event, Brian found Joseph's business card underneath a seat in his car and contacted him. The rest is history :)

The Colorado Coalition for the Homeless program, ReHire Colorado, works to match a potential intern (and hopefully employee) to a local business or non-profit. For eight weeks, ReHire Colorado will sponsor an intern as they receive on-site training and job experience. At the end of the eight weeks, the employer can decide whether or not to hire the intern full-time.

Shortly after Brian contacted Joseph, Laciey Eidson joined the ReHire program and was a full-time student working towards her CompTIA+ certification. As a single mother and survivor of domestic violence, Laciey knew the unique challenges that come with navigating public assistance programs. With her interest in a technology career and her passion for helping people that have experienced similar situations as her, she was a perfect fit for an internship at A2J Tech.

During her internship, Laciey learned web development, graphic design, and social media management. All the while, the company's workload was growing. By the end of the eight weeks, it was clear that there was more than enough work to hire Laciey full-time.

Now five months later, Laciey manages the daily operations of A2J Tech, focuses our work on human-centered solutions, and is supervising a 2nd intern in the ReHire program.

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