Kalli Watkins's 2017 success story
Ex-offender uses her past to help re-entry clients.
Then: An alcoholic, sentenced to Tulsa Drug Court. Unfortunately, drug court led Kalli Watkins to trade one addiction for another. She entered a relationship with a meth user in the group and went from working as an accountant at a rental car company to serving jail time for a series of drug-related crimes.
The Cherokee Nation native spent nearly three years in Eddie Warrior Correctional Center. Determined to better herself before she got out, she says she begged her way in to the Skills Center’s transportation, distribution and logistics program. According to Kalli, the TDL instructors there not only believed in the program, but in the students themselves.
Kalli said finding a job is tough for ex-offenders, adding, “Employers want proof that you’ve changed, and when you’re first coming out of prison there’s no way to offer that.”
Steve Evans and the rest of the Skills Center staff at Eddie Warrior helped Kalli move beyond her past by:
- Helping her get her TDL certification.
- Providing information on job leads she could pursue when she was released.
- Helping her polish her resume, putting a positive spin on her time away from the workforce.
- Instilling in her a strong work ethic, through early morning classes and training.
Now: Kalli works at the Cherokee Nation’s Career Services office in Tulsa, drawing on experiences from her past to mentor and counsel women with similar backgrounds. She is the re-entry coordinator at Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform.
Kalli’s boss, Daryl Legg, said he has no regrets about hiring Kalli.
“She’s done a bang-up job for us. We’re proud of her,” he said.
Daryl is a self-proclaimed champion for the CareerTech System, saying, “I wish the state had a larger budget for DOC, and I hope the Skills Centers programs never get cut.”
”Sometimes people just need people to believe in them.”
Kalli Watkins, Cherokee Nation’s Career Services