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Nancy Kasmar has experienced illness from many sides—as caretaker, patient, HR professional and employee. She spent 20 years as a nurse practitioner before turning to HR nine years ago.
Then, life threw her for a loop. Diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, she received chemotherapy last year just before her term as president of the 1,400-member Lake Washington Human Resource Association, a Seattle-area chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management. The same year, she led the chapter’s search for a new management company and started her own consulting firm.
Kasmar is now the certification director for the Washington State HR Council. She also delivers presentations on compensation and benefits, mentorship, and disabilities that aren’t readily apparent.
What are you passionate about?
As a cancer survivor, I am passionate about changing the conversation around invisible disabilities in our workplaces. I want people to know they have more in common than they realize with their co-workers with invisible disabilities.
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Running our chapter mentorship program for three years. It was incredibly rewarding to witness everyone’s career development. Our members have benefited so much from having a program that they asked me to write a book about it! So You Want to Start a Mentorship Program (Knotted Road Press, 2014) was published last fall.
What’s your work philosophy?
People are great just as they are and are trying to do their best. It is the job of the manager to help employees reach their full potential. Everyone starts a job with all the motivation they need; no one asks themselves, “How can I be an underachiever at this company?”
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