The iRelaunch Employer (Virtual) Speaker Series: "Building the Best Employer Return to Work Programs"

Session Nine- "Switching from a 'returnship' to a 'direct-hire' based return to work program model"

September 22, 3:00 - 4:00 PM Eastern

with Kathy Simonis
Head of Diversity & Inclusion - Americas
Macquarie Group

Macquarie Group's Returner Program started in 2016 outside of the US and in 2018 in the US. In the US, UK and India, the program has been running as a returnship, and in Australia/New Zealand, it has been running as a direct hire program. Kathy Simonis takes us into the real time decision to change the Macquarie US and UK returnship programs to a direct hire model, and gives us a first hand comparison of the pros and cons of each. We will also discuss how the program has evolved since inception and what the lessons learned have been along the way.


Kathy Simonis

Head of Diversity & Inclusion - Americas

Macquarie Group

Kathy Simonis originally joined Macquarie in 2000 in its Head office in Sydney, Australia and held a number of senior roles within the retail business before moving into the Risk Management Group – Compliance.  Ms Simonis relocated to New York in 2007 to establish and lead the regional Compliance function during a period of significant change for Macquarie through multiple acquisitions and organic growth.  Following this was an assignment in London, England with Macquarie in 2011 to lead the global AML/CTF function before returning to New York permanently.


Kathy pivoted her career direction from Risk Management – Compliance and returned to Macquarie in 2015 to lead the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy for the Americas. In this role and now a Certified Diversity Professional (CDP), Kathy is a member of the Regional Human Resources leadership team and works closely with the global and regional diversity offices, regional business leaders, is the strategic advisor to  the Americas Diversity & Inclusion and management  committees and oversees the governance of the Employee Network Groups.  Enhancing Macquarie’s reputation as an inclusive workplace that embraces the diversity of our people and driving region-wide initiatives to foster inclusion and a culture of natural sponsorship is a key focus.


Working in the corporate context, and for numerous not-for-profit organizations, as a board member, volunteer, or advisor, it is the long burning passion of advocating for people to help them be their best self within their community and professional context that energizes her focus. 

About the iRelaunch Employer (Virtual) Speaker Series:

Our “Building the Best Employer Return to Work Programs” (Virtual) Speaker Series is for you, our employers looking beyond the health crisis and beyond the economic downturn, to build the talent pipelines that will fuel future hiring.

Our series brings you leaders from across industry sectors - expert practitioners who built and run the top return to work programs - continuing the success we have had with our four prior iRelaunch “Critical Issues in Return to Work Programming” in-person events.

Join our iRelaunch Employer Community to learn from employers with the top return to work programs and meet peer program managers and executive champions. Submit your interest in attending by filling out the form in the link below. Approved inquiries will receive the link to participate.

"I love these sessions! Very good information and I appreciate the openness of [the guest speaker's] challenges and how they overcame them....the constant reminder the we need to remind managers these are not you average new candidates, they are unique and need to be treated as such. Love it. "

Virtual Speaker Session Attendee

Who Should Attend?

Employer representatives who:

- run return-to-work programs and want to learn about other employer programs

- have piloted return to work programs and are now expanding them

- are considering launching a return to work program

- are interested in learning more about this talent pool and want to recruit relaunchers but not necessarily through a formal program

Interested in Attending?

Please click here and fill out the form to tell us more about yourself and your role within your employer. We will follow up with the link.


Frequently Asked Questions

No. If you filled out our form and were approved to attend the a previous session, you do not need to fill out the form again. You will automatically receive a link to subsequent sessions. 

We will broadcast this through Zoom webinar and sessions will be live only. Links to the Zoom webinar will be unique to each approved attendee. Please contact us at if you would like to give your link to someone else. 

Yes. Please submit your questions on the sign-up form or send them to us at

Unlike the iRelaunch Return to Work Conference, this is not a recruiting event. This is a special series only for employers.

Definitely. The Series is designed to provide the most up-to-date information about building and scaling programs.

Yes. Whether or not you are developing a formal program for relaunchers, you will benefit from the discussion about the demographic and what has worked to successfully onboard them.

Please contact us at if you have any questions.

"Great to learn about how other companies have had success with this program. It has provided us with a lot of ideas and leverage as we build out our program. "

Virtual Speaker Session Attendee

Previous Sessions: Speakers and Topics

Jennifer Howland, Managing Director, iRelaunch

“Building and Scaling a Return to Work Program”

Liz Markus, Director, Johnson & Johnson Re-Ignite

"The Role of the Program Manager”

Carol Fishman Cohen, Chair and Co-founder, iRelaunch

COVID-19 Return to Work Report and Scripts & Dialogues™ for Employers

Lucida Plummer, Global Head of Diversity, Asset and Wealth Management, J.P. Morgan

"The Virtual Launch of a Return to Work Cohort: What We've Learned at the JPMC ReEntry Program"

Phillip Anderson, Executive Director, DTCC

"The Business Case for a Return to Work Program"

Pauline Ashworth, Human Resources Director - Commercial Bank, Shared Services and Technology, TD Bank

"TD Bank Career Relaunch 2020 - Launching a pilot return to work program during COVID"

Laura Smith, Senior Advisor for Diversity Talent Acquisition, Dell Technologies

"Dell ReStart: Explaining the 'Direct Hire' Reentry Program Model"

Audrey Van Belleghem, Business Lead, Facebook

"How to Operate a Successful Return to Work Program Remotely: From Interviews to Graduation"


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I'm interested in attending

Please express your interest in attending the iRelaunch Employer (Virtual) Speaker Series. To ensure corporate representatives who are running, expanding, piloting or contemplating return to work programs in their organization get first priority on admission to the Series, please submit your interest in attending on this form.  Approved inquiries will receive an invitation to join our session.