Foundation Awards First Talent Management Conference Scholarships


By SHRM Online staff March 14, 2016

The SHRM Foundation has awarded its first scholarships to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Talent Management Conference & Exposition to three SHRM members.

Angelene Fortune of North Carolina, Natasha Henson of Louisiana and Molly Kelsey of Pennsylvania will each receive complimentary registration, a $500 travel stipend and free hotel lodging for the duration of the conference in Orlando, Fla., April 18-20.

Angelene Fortune, SHRM-CP

Fortune is chief human resource officer at A Caring Alternative LLC in Morganton, N.C., which serves underprivileged individuals with mental health and developmental disability disorders. She also serves as vice president-elect for membership for the Western North Carolina Human Resource Association chapter of SHRM and is a member of the Catawba Valley SHRM chapter.

She noted in her application that it is often difficult to recruit talented, dedicated staff.

“The mental health industry has a very high turnover rate, with the national percentage above 40 [percent]. Our agency has worked hard to develop a culture that has a core set of values that includes a work/life balance,” she wrote.

“This change in our agency has dropped our turnover rate below the national average to 18 percent. For the mental health world, this is remarkable! We have completed this shift internally; however, we still struggle with passing it along externally. Despite our best efforts and limited funding, we struggle to recruit top talent as it is difficult to compete with our neighboring state mental health hospital.”

Attending the conference, she noted, would offer an opportunity to learn more about new recruiting initiatives and strategies she could adapt to her organization, and she looks forward to attending sessions on how to retain and grow her organization’s current staff.  

Natasha Henson, SHRM-CP

Henson is a senior HR generalist in an HR department of one at Chimp Haven Inc., the national chimpanzee sanctuary located on 200 acres in northwest Louisiana. The sanctuary is home to more than 200 chimpanzees, most of which were retired from National Institute of Health biomedical research. Henson hopes that at the conference she will learn strategies to increase employee retention in the husbandry department at the sanctuary.

“Many people are excited about the prospect of working around chimpanzees but are lost in the fascination and [are] not as enthusiastic when it comes to cleaning the messes chimps can make,” she wrote in her application. She recalled a behavioral intern who was interested in a position that opened in the husbandry department. The manager, desperate to fill the position, insisted that the intern be immediately hired.

“The employee worked in the role for two weeks and then left,” Henson said. While she wonders what could have been done to prevent this, she also said she believes that retention starts at the beginning of an employee’s life cycle with an organization. As a newcomer to the animal-care field, she said she’s looking for ways to assist her management team “with skills to onboard candidates who possess a high probability of success in the animal care business.”

Molly Kelsey

Kelsey is chief financial officer and director of HR at Global Fabrication Inc., a company in the oil and energy sector whose employees include highly skilled welders and fabricators and an in-house engineering staff; training and onboarding is a lengthy process.

“In the last five years, my goal at Global Fabrication has been to recruit and retain highly skilled labor from a virtually nonexistent local labor pool,” Kelsey wrote in her application. “It is my responsibility to build a workforce that can deliver the company into the future with talented professionals. As key management personnel are entering the twilight of their careers, succession planning will be key to our future growth and success.”

She hopes that at the conference she will learn the best ways to grow a skilled labor pool and to recruit talent from outside the area to fill positions at her organization. Retention is also important, she added.

Because it is a code welding shop—one where the welder has taken an exam in a welding process that involves a particular process—on-boarding and training typically take six to 18 months. In addition to being expensive, losing employees after they have been trained “feels like losing a piece of the puzzle,” she wrote. She hopes to learn employee recognition strategies that aren’t solely monetary.

“Once we bring an employee into the Global Fabrication family, we want to do everything possible to retain them.”

Kelsey serves as treasurer of the board for the HR Management Association of North Central Pennsylvania. 


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