Pinnacle Award Winners Demonstrate Wide Range of Service

By Kathy Gurchiek Nov 24, 2009

A career fair aimed at convicts, a workforce readiness program for high school students and a seamless chapter leadership transition plan were among the Pinnacle Award winners that the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) announced Nov. 20, 2009, during its Leadership Conference in Arlington, Va.

The award honored seven SHRM chapters and two state councils for high-level projects that advance the HR profession and serve the HR professional. ADP, a provider of employer-related outsourcing solutions, sponsors the annual event.

The program, which dates to 1991, recognizes an innovative state council or chapter activity, program or initiative that transcends normal affiliate operations. SHRM’s internal and external selection committees gave heavy consideration to whether an applicant’s program can be replicated by other SHRM chapters and councils.

In a change of format, the 2009 winners were not notified in advance of the Nov. 20 luncheon announcement. The element of surprise seemed to generate excitement in the ballroom.

“It truly is the Academy Awards, and it truly is surreal,” just as movie stars claim, Austin, Texas, HRMA Chapter President Ramona Roher said during unscripted remarks from the stage. Her chapter was among those receiving a Pinnacle Award.

The format generated a few funny adlibs, as when New Hampshire State Council Director-Elect Debra Tuttle accepted the award on behalf of her group, whose project was heavily Internet-based.

She singled out those who had worked on the project, then added to loud laugher that she also “wanted to thank Al Gore because he invented the Internet.”

The 2009 Pinnacle Award winners are:

  • Evansville-Area Human Resource Association (Ind.), “Seamless Transition.” The program assisted military personnel in transitioning into the civilian workforce. In 2009, it provided career counseling to 500 military personnel. The association partnered with Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, which seeks employer support for Guard and Reserve service by recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of the law, and resolving conflict through mediation.
  • Human Resources Management Association of New Orleans, “504ward: New Orleans Calling.” The program formed a network of professional and community development organizations aimed at retaining young talent.
  • Human Resource Association of New Mexico, “HRMA and Team Works Partnership.” The program assists single mothers and recipients of Temporary Aid to Needy Families with interviewing and resume-writing skills. It has placed five individuals in nonpaid internships.
  • Susquehanna HRMA (Pa.), “Workforce Readiness—School District Project.” The program was a mandatory class for high school seniors, preparing them for job searches, such as help with completing job applications for a mock company and participating in interviews.
  • Austin HRMA, “Stepping Stones to Enhanced Leadership.” The program was a leadership academy created to develop emerging volunteer leaders. It led to the creation of an innovative succession plan to forestall the chapter’s looming brain drain. The program filled 60 percent of board positions the first year and 75 percent the second year.
  • Mid-Cities Human Resource Association (Texas), “Felony and/or Misdemeanor Friendly Community Career Fair.” The program targeted recidivism rates in its area to connect qualified job seekers who have criminal histories with work in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
  • Raleigh-Wake HRMA and Triangle SHRM (N.C.), “HR on Call: A Resource for a Community in Transition.” The seven-hour telethon reached nearly 1.08 million households and involved HR professionals providing job-search guidance to more than 1,100 callers as well as creating employment resource materials.

State council winners are:

  • New Hampshire SHRM State Council, “NH Workforce Readiness Toolkit.” It created a 43-page digital document that contains employment information and links applicable to job seekers, including students and those making a mid-life transition. Its resources also are applicable to employers.
  • Garden State Council–SHRM (N.J.), “Mission … Career Success!” It produced and delivered career transition services to assist military personnel returning from Iraq in finding employment.

Prizes Awarded

Winning chapters and councils each receive $1,000; the Raleigh-Wake and Triangle SHRM groups each receive $500 for their joint program. The president of each winning chapter and the state director of each winning state council receive a gold-and-diamond Pinnacle pin, and board members of each of the winning groups receive replicas of the pin.

During the conference, winning state council and chapter members wear a special ribbon, and beginning in 2009, each of the winning projects will be featured in a Best Practices webinar that SHRM will post on its Volunteer Leaders’ Resource Center.

“We believe that today’s HR professionals not only need to be employee-focused, but business-focused as well,” ADP’s director of marketing for employer services, Kelly Shanley, said during the luncheon.

“As a partner to thousands of HR professionals like you, we recognize the opportunities and challenges you face—particularly in these challenging times. And we proudly applaud the winning chapters and state councils for their commitment to executing outstanding programs that not only advance the profession but also have a positive impact on their communities.”

All the work the SHRM volunteer leaders are doing, she added, “is so important not only to SHRM but to your communities.”

SHRM Board Chairman Robb E. Van Cleave, SPHR, IPMA-CP, noted that Pinnacle Award finalists and winners exemplify the “power and promise of the HR profession.” Through their efforts, he said, they have impacted “individuals and the communities they live in.”

Related Resources:

SHRM Pinnacle Awards Program Frequently Asked Questions, SHRM Communities


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