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Jonna Contacos-Sawyer, SHRM-SCPHR Consultants Inc., Johnstown, Pa.
Professional PathBefore starting HR Consultants, Contacos-Sawyer spent 10 years overseeing HR for a small restaurant chain and a government mental health agency. In 1998, a local benefits broker approached her with the idea of starting a company to provide HR services after perceiving the need among his customers. In 2000, she bought out her partner and has since built the firm to include six employees and eight independent contractors.
Contacos-Sawyer provides onboarding support, background checks, compliance assistance, performance management support and coaching to nonprofits, government agencies and for-profit businesses.
A defining project was her work with the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, a federally recognized tribe that lives on a reservation in San Diego County, Calif. While organizing its government in 2006, the Rincon engaged Contacos-Sawyer to create its HR infrastructure. Her team developed job descriptions, integrated performance management into the group’s strategic plan and helped individuals set goals that aligned with the government’s objectives. Since the project began, the number of workers the tribe employs has doubled from 75 to 150.
One of the big attractions of running her own show was the ability to “have an impact on important questions” in the business. While she could do some of that in her more-traditional HR roles, she now has more chances to directly influence an organization’s path.
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