Koya Leadership Partners Lands CHRO for Saint Joseph’s University

A 168-year old university in Philadelphia uses top search firm to find a new CHRO, which results in the hiring of Zenobia Hargust. Let’s go inside the search!

September 3, 2019 – Executive recruiters continue their hot pursuit of chief human resource officers and other senior-level HR leaders across the nation. Just recently, Koya Leadership Partners placed Zenobia Hargust as the new CHRO of Saint Joseph’s University (SJU) in Philadelphia. Koya vice president Amy Sugin led the search along with consultant Charlotte Harris.

SJU, a Jesuit university, wanted a candidate with strong knowledge of human resource functions and technology, including extensive experience in organizational behavior, employee relations, compensation, benefits and employee development, said Koya.

Ms. Hargust fit that bill. She brings a blend of human resource experience from higher education and religiously-affiliated institutions. Currently, she is the director of equal opportunity and employee engagement at Swarthmore College, as well as the college’s deputy title IX coordinator. Her expansive leadership role encompasses learning and development, employee relations, equal opportunity and talent management, including recruitment, onboarding, performance management, organizational design and workforce planning.


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As a key advisor of the president’s cabinet at Swarthmore, Ms. Hargust provided counsel on organizational change management, employee relations and employee communication strategies. She partnered with the provost and deans to develop and implement Swarthmore’s diversity and inclusion strategic plan, led an overhaul of the employee recruitment and onboarding system, and designed a comprehensive talent management system.

Prior to her time at Swarthmore, Ms. Hargust held various human resources positions at the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center and Lutheran Children and Family Service. She is currently president of the Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware Chapter for the College and University Association of Human Resources Professionals (CUPA-HR) and secretary of the Delaware County Chapter for the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM).

“I spent a majority of my career in human resources thinking about the ways in which HR can champion equity, access, inclusivity, and that also translates over to recruitment and retention efforts,” said Ms. Hargust. “I’d hope to be able to spend some time examining that closely at St. Joe’s and in partnership with the provost’s office and with the HR team thinking through the ways in which we can make opportunities at the university more accessible to underrepresented communities and support those communities through being able to access opportunities at the university.”

Related: An Up-Close Look at the Transformational Role of the CHRO

Founded in 1851, Saint Joseph’s University is a top-ranked Catholic university that provides a rigorous education rooted in the liberal arts. The Saint Joseph’s education encompasses all aspects of personal growth and development — demanding high achievement, deepening understanding, strengthening reasoning and communication skills, and developing moral character.

Proven CHRO Search Consultants

Boston-based Koya Leadership Partners is a national executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with mission-driven organizations, institutions of higher education and social enterprises. This year, the firm was again recognized by Hunt Scanlon Media as one of the top 50 search firms in the Americas. In June, Koya was acquired by Diversified Search. With the combination of revenues and resources, Diversified Search and Koya now represent one of the largest non-profit and higher education practices in the executive search industry.

Koya Leadership Partners Leading CHRO Search for the University of New England
Tom Phillips and Charlotte Harris of Koya Leadership Partners were retained by the University of New England (UNE) to assist in its search for a new CHRO. The university, located in Biddeford, ME, seeks a collaborative and forward-looking human resources leader that will play an important role in building upon the institution’s strategic plan, “Our World, Our Future.” 

A hallmark of Koya’s education practice is the range of institutions with which it has partnered: private and public; selective liberal arts colleges, large research universities and academic medical centers; mission-driven, faith-based; rising and established. The practice’s recruiters’ backgrounds include decades of experience in academic budget and administration, finance and administration, executive education, student affairs, international programs, human resources and academic work in the fields of philosophy and biological sciences, higher education, non-profit and private sectors.

Ms. Sugin has over two decades of higher education administration experience in enrollment management, program management, and international education. She joined Koya after serving as principal at Neumann Executive Search (formerly, Brill Neumann Associates) when the two firms merged. Ms. Sugin has led searches for Carnegie Mellon University, Fordham University, Rutgers, Yale, New York University, University of North Carolina, Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design and University of Dayton, among others.

Related: Here’s Why Game Changing CHRO Talent Is In Big Demand

Ms. Harris focuses on all aspects of the search process, including project management, candidate development and client support to Koya’s higher education team. Prior to joining Koya, she was a key member of the administrative team at Lois L. Lindauer Searches, where she worked closely with management and search teams and provided project coordination and behind-the-scenes logistics support.

HR searches are a hallmark of Koya. In addition to many such searches across the mission-driven organization landscape, we are currently partnering on searches for higher education CHRO roles at the Catholic University of America, Skidmore College and the Maryland Institute College of Art. And in the recent past, Koya consultants have led CHRO searches for Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Clark University, Fordham University, George Mason University, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, the Pennsylvania State University and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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