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CJT Spotlight: Joseph Tolbert Continues to Lead

Joseph Tolbert is a natural born leader, but he had to overcome his difficult beginnings to get to where he is today. An early life of challenges and limited opportunities led him to incarceration, but this also put him on the path to leadership. After his release from prison, Joseph enrolled in DC Central Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training (CJT) program in 2015 and found the opportunities he needed to strengthen his natural leadership abilities.

Joseph graduated from our 101st class and was hired here at DC Central Kitchen, supporting our catering and school food operations. One day, while preparing sandwiches for an event, a manager from Washington Hilton, impressed by Joseph’s hard work and dedication, approached him. Joseph remembers the manager saying, “You’re coming with us. We want you to work for us.” He knew the offer was another opportunity he could not pass up.

Since his time with Washington Hilton, Joseph has found more opportunities to build his leadership skills as both the hotel’s union representative and a Board Member of DC Central Kitchen. Now, Joseph is taking the next step in his leadership journey after being selected for Hilton’s prestigious management development program, a nine-month training program that will train Joseph for a top management position at one of its larger, premiere hotels. He is the only Hilton employee selected for the program who does not hold a degree. “It’s amazing to me,” says Joseph. “I went from being a two-time convicted felon to a valued employee and a leader for my teammates. Now, I have the chance to manage my own team.”