September 22, 2020 – With the Coronavirus crisis upon us, chief people officers are stepping up at businesses across the country, playing a vital role in helping organizations navigate what is looking to be an even greater challenge than the Great Recession. As a recent article in The Economist put it, chief people officers “keep employees healthy; maintain their morale; and oversee a vast remote-working experiment.: As companies retrench, these leaders are also considering whether, when and how to lay workers off. Executive recruiters across the business landscape report that searches for these C-suite executives will only continue to rise.
Recently, HR executive search and management consulting firm accelHRate placed former Washington Nationals HR executive Alexa Herndon as the first chief people officer of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Kimberly Shanahan, founding president and chief executive officer of the search firm, led the assignment along with managing partner and co-founder Kelly McPherson.
HSUS wanted a strategic senior human resources executive to bring the credibility, presence, judgement, expertise and experience to partner effectively with its executive team. Ms. Herndon fit that bill. She is an innovative HR leader with experience spanning all aspects of the HR function. She has deep expertise in compliance, employee relations, performance management, organizational design, change management and optimization of HR program delivery.
Ms. Herndon was most recently was vice president of HR for the Washington Nationals baseball franchise where she established a strategic HR function as the franchise emerged from its start-up phase to become World Series champions in 2019. In this role, she led a five member HR team providing support for 1,600 employees across the U.S. and Latin America. Ms. Herndon partnered with executive team and ownership on all people related matters.
Before that, Ms. Herndon was HR director with Thermo Fisher Scientific. In this role, she led a five member HR team providing HR support for 500 employees across the U.S. and Europe. Prior to that, she was an HR generalist with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where she was responsible for all recruitment and the internship program.
Reporting to the Humane Society’s new president and CEO, Kitty Block, Ms. Herndon will be an integral part of the executive team for this high-profile non-profit. She will ensure that the organization has a high impact HR function, which includes talent acquisition, talent management, learning and development, succession planning, employee relations, HR systems and processes, organizational development and effectiveness, compensation and benefits, diversity and inclusion, analytics and culture.
The Humane Society of the United States, based in Washington, D.C., has been well known for its work on behalf of animals for more than 60 years. Working closely with affiliate organizations, HSUS provides hands-on care and services to more than 100,000 animals each year, as well as providing education and training for thousands of local organizations.
Proven HR Recruiters
Headquartered in Herndon, VA, accelHRate is focused on placing chief human resources officers, financial officers and boards of directors. The firm’s team has placed hundreds of high impact HR executives across all industries and geographies. The firm was established in 2014.
accelHRate recently placed Tracy Gee as the first chief people officer of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD). She will be responsible for the design and delivery of talent acquisition, talent management, compensation and benefits, diversity and inclusion, and organizational effectiveness.
Ms. Gee has more than 25 years of human resources experience leading HR strategies and programs in multiple industries. She joins NACD from Raytheon Co., where she most recently served as vice president of human resources for the global business development function located in multiple domestic and international locations. In 2019, Ms. Gee was named by Savoy magazine as one of the Top 100 Women in Corporate America.
Ms. Shanahan brings more than 25 years of business and executive search experience to the organization. She has partnered with hundreds of CEOs, board members and CHROs across multiple industries and geographies to place HR, CEO and board of directors talent. Previously, she spent eight years with Korn Ferry, where she led the HR center of expertise as senior client partner and simultaneously served as managing partner for the Northern Virginia office. She was also an active member of the CEO and board practice.
Ms. McPherson brings close to 20 years of recruiting and management experience to the firm. In her role at accelHRate she focuses on chief human resources officers, heads of total rewards and heads of talent roles. Her clients range from Fortune 500 organizations to private equity portfolio companies across a range of industries, including technology, healthcare, B2B services, financial services, defense, industrial, retail and consumer services.
Chief People Officer Recruiting
Executive search firms have been stepping up their efforts to assist companies across the nation to find new chief people officers. Here are a look at few recent searches from the Hunt Scanlon Media archives:
This prestigious non-profit organization regards the role as a linchpin for delivering on its mission of inspiring and empowering people to become agents of change. The position provides an ideal opportunity for a sophisticated, business-savvy, innovative, forward-thinking leader to help advance the organization to the next stage of its development, says the recruitment firm. Let’s take a closer look at this important search just getting underway.
Chicago-based Hanold Associates HR & Diversity Executive Search has placed Michele Meyer-Shipp as chief people and culture officer for Major League Baseball. Jason Hanold, CEO and co-managing partner of the search firm, led the assignment along with partner Keri Gavin. “Michele is an exceptional leader and an inspirational person,” said Mr. Hanold. “She will have an incredibly positive impact on Major League Baseball in this newly created role within the commissioner’s office.”
Executive search firm Furst Group, which serves the healthcare and insurance industries, placed Jackie Tischler as the new chief people officer for BJC Healthcare in St. Louis. Vice president Jessica Homann led the assignment. Ms. Tischler succeeds John Beatty, who last year announced he would be retiring. The search included healthcare professionals as well as leadership from other complex, change-oriented, and consumer-centric industries such as retail, technology, and hospitality/services, according to the recruiting firm. This resulted in 73 percent of candidates having multi-industry backgrounds, said Ms. Homann.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media