The Redesigning Wellness Podcast

180: Open Hiring at Greyston Bakery with Joe Kenner and Sara Marcus

Joe and Sara

When people aren’t working, the community is suffering, according to Joe Kenner, Vice President of Programs and Partnerships at Greyston Bakery, an organization founded on an open hiring philosophy. From Greyston’s earliest beginnings, they’ve been hiring populations that many would deem unemployable, using a first come first serve approach.

As VP of Programs and Partnerships, Joe Kenner is responsible for directing Greyston’s workforce development and community wellness strategies and activities. He’s joined in today’s conversation by Sara Marcus, Partnerships Manager at Greyston’s Center for Open Hiring. She oversees partnerships with employers, non-profit partners, and funders with the ultimate goal of fostering a wider adoption of open hiring among businesses. 

In this episode, Joe explains Greyston’s humble beginnings, as well as origin of the company’s open hiring policy – a strategy implemented by Greyston’s founder, Bernie Glassman, as a way to help the Yonkers community thrive. He and Sara take a deeper dive on what exactly open hiring entails, as well as the additional support Greyston provides for its employees’ success.

They share some of the benefits of open hiring, including a lower rate of turnover and a reallocation of funds into keeping employees rather than hiring them. Joe also discusses some personal stories of employees’ lives changed as a result of Greyston’s open hiring.

Finally, Sara discusses the process of helping other companies move toward an open hiring model, including the Greyston Learning Lab where companies are invited to Greyston to get a first hand look at facility and how fewer barriers in the hiring process might work for them. Lastly, both Joe and Sara leave us with a final thought that employers can take away.

Don’t forget to share this episode on LinkedIn, tag Jen, and let her know what you learned from this episode for a chance to win a membership to the National Wellness Institute.

This episode is sponsored by Realize Wellbeing. 

Realize Wellbeing is a corporate wellness consulting and training powerhouse on a mission to help companies understand how they’re impacting their own employees’ wellbeing. They are dedicated to transforming workplaces into businesses that exude energy and innovation through their vibrant, thriving people.

Owner, Maggie Gough gets a lot of requests from workplace wellness and HR practitioners who want a fresh perspective on their work and increased capacity for organizational change. In order for Maggie to reach more organizations, she is now offering a brand new Train the Trainer program. 

This 4-week course equips you to bring their innovative strategy to your workplace and also help you expand your efforts beyond health promotion. This course will help you develop new strategies for your company, using the science of self-determination theory and micro-influence. With this new offer, you’ll receive two trainings to deliver to your employees, two fully developed campaigns, a measurement tool, plus four 1:1 coaching sessions with Maggie to support you in implementation.

The April session has limited availability, sign up today! Go to or contact Maggie directly at

Interview Highlights (with timestamps):
  • [8:14] The origin of Greyston Bakery and collaboration with Ben and Jerry’s
  • [15:39] How open hiring works
  • [19:23] Additional support for employees that Greyston provides
  • [25:20] Successes from open hiring
  • [31:39] Personal stories of employees helped by open hiring at Greyston
  • [34:31] Lessons learned from open hiring
  • [40:23] Helping other companies remove barriers to employment
  • [49:35] Differences in disciplinary action and firing
  • [55:28] What employers can take away
Mentioned in this episode:
Full Bio:

Joe Kenner, Vice President of Programs and Partnerships, is responsible for directing Greyston’s Workforce Development and Community Wellness strategies and activities.  Joe was previously the Deputy Commissioner at Westchester County’s Department of Social Services (DSS), the largest county department, with an operating budget of nearly $600 million.  Joe oversaw the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), constituent affairs and Westchester County’s Fatherhood Initiative.  Prior to his appointment at DSS in 2014, Joe had a 14-year career in corporate America, working in the fields of insurance underwriting and risk management, capital markets and sales strategy.

He began as an underwriter for Chubb & Son, Inc. in White Plains and Manhattan. From there, he moved into insurance risk management as an insurance analyst for Lehman Brothers, Inc. He then joined PepsiCo, Inc. for nearly nine years, serving as a Treasury Manager in the Purchase-based company’s Insurance Risk Management and Capital Markets departments and as a Sales Strategy Manager in the Pepsi-Cola North America division.

Joe is a graduate of Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.   Joe also attended Oxford University (Exeter College), in Oxford, England. He earned his Master’s in Business Administration (Financial Management) from Pace University’s Lubin School of Business.

Sara Marcus, Partnerships Manager, Center for Open Hiring: Sara recently joined Greyston in 2019 to build out the Center for Open Hiring. In her role, she oversees partnerships with employers, non-profit partners, and funders with the ultimate goal of fostering the adoption of Open Hiring. She is responsible for developing the Center for Open Hiring’s offering to employers and implementing pilots at companies adopting the model.

Prior to Greyston, Sara completed her MBA at Harvard Business School, where she focused on studying business model solutions to social challenges. While in school she worked at the Women’s Bean Project, developing a growth strategy and digital marketing plan to help women who face barriers to employment. Before business school, Sara began her career as a management consultant for Oliver Wyman, advising clients across industries to address complex challenges. She also worked in corporate strategy at WhiteWave Foods/Danone North America, where she led strategic projects across functions, brands, and business units to drive company growth.