Connecting With People

Brayton BowenBy Jaime Ingle

R. Brayton Bowen knows what it’s like to lose a job and start over again. An adjunct instructor at McKendree University for the past 11 years, with more than 25 years of corporate and consulting experience, he recently created the Network for Employment Transition (NET) in Louisville, Ky., to help job seekers begin or jumpstart their careers. NET, a faith-based program, counsels job seekers on resume building, interviewing and networking while coaching other facilitators such as social service agencies and employers to do the same.

“I’ve been fired or whatever you want to call it a couple of times,” Brayton chuckled. Losing a job is no laughing matter, but retaining confidence and a sense of humor are crucial to bouncing back from adversity.

Many times job seekers need a push in the right direction. That’s when NET steps in to help.

“NET has been doing this for the past three years, and we know it takes a ’Ville, (Louisville) to make it happen,” said Brayton, who founded and led the Center for Business Excellence at McKendree’s Louisville and Radcliff, Ky. campuses. “It’s a holistic approach. People have been dressed up with no place to go. We’re trying to change that. We’ve had more than a 75 percent success rate of people finding jobs and services.”

Brayton specialized in human resources with corporate America and moved to Louisville for a job in the mid-1980s. In 1991, he started his own consulting firm, Howland Group, which deals with strategy consulting, human resource development, and change management. He is author of “Recognizing and Rewarding Employees” and more than twenty works on leadership, organization culture, and change management.

Social responsibility has always been a priority for Brayton which is why NET helps connect job seekers with potential housing and healthcare opportunities.

Passionate about giving back to his community, Brayton also serves on the board of the Kentucky Race Track Chaplaincy and is chair of the Backside Ministry for the Church of the Epiphany in neighboring Anchorage, Ky., which serves immigrant workers at Churchill Downs with food, clothing and other special needs. “The workers on the backside care for the horses, and many live in the barns,” said Brayton. “We started out by giving boots to workers and toys to their kids at Christmas, and it morphed into year-round ministry.”

Brayton has been involved with the Ministry for ten years and has coordinated its trackside appeal (a.k.a. Christmas in July), raising nearly $14,000 annually to benefit the workers and families and led the fundraising efforts to purchase a converted school bus that is now used as a classroom for children while their parents attend church services in the adjacent chapel. His leadership has drawn volunteers for the St. Vincent de Paul food kitchen, collectors for a semi-annual truck drive for clothing and household effects, and more recently volunteer agencies to support a regional job seekers conference.

In November, he was recognized with the James E. Flynn Peacemaking Award, established in 1992 by the Church of the Epiphany Social Responsibility Committee. The award honors a parishioner who, on a local, national or international basis, has responded to the call of the Gospel and Catholic social teaching to make a significant contribution in the area of social justice.