Lake County resident receives Impact Award

LANSING — West Central Michigan talent development and employment successes were among those celebrated by state leaders at the Michigan Works! Association Impact Awards on March 24. 

Local lawmakers and statewide talent development officials gathered virtually and in-person March 24, in Lansing to recognize Lake County resident Jessica Liggett, Pere Marquette River Lodge, Mason-Lake Adult Education, as well as Michigan Works! West Central for overcoming barriers to build the confidence needed to find a new career and provide rewarding job opportunities in the community. 

Liggett has struggled with reading and speech her entire life. These barriers prevented her from finding success for years, and subsequently had a negative impact on her self-confidence. So, when she entered the Mason-Lake Adult Education program to earn her high school diploma, she was very unsure of herself and the journey she was about to begin.

"Jessica was a hardworking and dedicated student in the Mason-Lake Adult Education program,” Mason-Lake Adult Education director Liz Stark said. “She came to us unsure of herself and her own abilities. In the last few years, Jessica has earned her high school diploma and completed the Transitions program for post-secondary study. Jessica is now confident and happy with what she has accomplished!”    

Through a lot of hard work and dedication, Liggett was able to complete her diploma in spring 2016, and was ready to enter the workforce. However, she still lacked the self-confidence she would need to find success. Michigan Works! West Central’s talent specialists were able to help her complete several mock interviews to help prepare her for the real thing. Michigan Works! West Central also was able to provide her with new clothing for job interviews.  

Although Liggett was not hired following her first interview with a local employer, it did make her feel more confident going into her next job interview. Because she felt more prepared and confident, the interview with Pere Marquette River Lodge was a success, and she was hired in April 2021. For the first time in her life, she was able to obtain a full-time job to provide for herself and her household.

“When I interviewed Jessica, she said to me, ‘No one else will hire me,’” said Anna Riling, Pere Marquette River Lodge owner. “I could not imagine that and thought everyone should have a shot."

Liggett’s strong work ethic allowed her to take on more responsibility at the lodge and earned her a pay increase. At the lodge, she helps with housekeeping in the cabins and around the main lodge, keeps the kitchen and dining areas clean, and more.

"I’ve watched her change a lot. At first, she was a little timid, because we’re a big group to take on. Now she’s one of us ," Riling said. "Her confidence has built, and it’s just been beautiful to watch that. She just keeps on going, taking on more and more responsibility and she’s good at it!”

"It’s overwhelming,” Liggett said. “I’ve had a lot of support from a lot of people. I love this job. This is my second home. Anna has been the best friend I’ve ever had, and I think it’s a really good match that I’m here.”

The Impact Awards hosted by the Michigan Works! Association recognizes the economic development success being achieved in communities across Michigan. During the event, local lawmakers present tributes to dozens of honorees from across the state.  

“Jessica is a great example of what can be achieved if you work hard and refuse to give up,” said Michigan Sen. Curt VanderWall, R-Ludington. “Her hard work, dedication and positive attitude helped her achieve her career goals. Congratulations on winning this prestigious award, Jessica!”

Award winners included employers, workers, Michigan Works! organizations and partners from across the state.

“Michigan Works! West Central has the tools to help Michiganders achieve their career goals and I want to congratulate the entire team at Michigan Works! West Central for helping change outcomes for our residents every day,” said state Rep. Scott VanSingel, R-Grant. “Congratulations to Jessica for working hard to achieve your dreams and build a rewarding career.” 

The Michigan Works! Association is a nonprofit membership organization that provides services and support to Michigan’s talent ecosystem. For more than 30 years, the association has been the go-to resource for federal, state and local workforce initiatives. 
Michigan Works! West Central supports the association’s mission and goals in Lake, Mason, Mecosta, Newaygo, Oceana and Osceola counties.

For employers, it offers assistance with recruitment, posting job opportunities, hosting job fairs, training dollars for new and existing employers and more. For job seekers, it offers resume/cover letter writing assistance, help with creating a profile/resume on Pure Michigan Talent Connect and other employment related services. For more information about programs and services, visit