Margo Walsh founded MaineWorks in 2011 to provide jobs and stability to people who are in recovery from substance abuse, have previous felonies, or are facing other barriers to employment. While attending substance abuse recovery meetings at Cumberland County Jail’s Pre-Release Center, Margo saw that inmates planning for their releases were struggling to find jobs.

Around the same time, she attended a talk in Portland by attorney F. Lee Bailey about the need to provide employment for felons. With a professional background in recruiting, she thought that if companies wouldn’t hire felons, she would. “I was motivated by the needs of my family and what I saw as an incredible opportunity to help change and build lives for people who were ready to work hard and support themselves,” Margo says. “I would say the operative and guiding principle of this company is empathy.”

Construction companies hire MaineWorks to provide workers for projects across the state. It’s a for-profit company, but it also has a social mission. One of her proudest success stories is the recent hiring of one of the company’s first-year temporary employee as crew leader for MaineWorks’s new Property Services Division. In March, the U.S. Small Business Administration honored Margo with the Small Business Person of the Year award for Maine.