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HR manager, Virginia Community College System
Tara Brown is a lifelong learner. Her entree into HR was through the
U.S. Army Signal Corps, where she served as an HR specialist and then HR
supervisor. Since 2002, she has applied her HR skills in the civilian
world, first in manufacturing and most recently in education. Brown was
president of the Society for Human Resource Management’s Clarksville,
Tenn., chapter in 2012, and she served as Tennessee district director in
2013. So it was no small feat when she completed her master’s degree in
HR late last year. In August, she relocated to her hometown of
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Several people, including my great-grandmother and my basic training
drill sergeant, encouraged me to be the best me that I can be—because I
am the only one who can. Early in life, I struggled with self-esteem as
many teenage girls do. I was almost ashamed of who God had created me to
be. Now, I embrace all of my wackiness.
What’s your favorite business book?
The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t
by Robert I. Sutton [Business Plus, 2010]. It uses data to make
poignant observations about the cost of working in toxic environments.
What struck me was the comparison between a culture of fear vs. one of
transparency. It was illustrated in a study of hospitals and how the
culture translated to patients’ mortality rates. Powerful!
Who do you look up to?
Two of my greatest heroes are my parents. My mother made sure everyone
else in our family had the opportunity to go to college before she went
back to school herself. She is the only one in our family to earn her
doctorate. She strives for excellence and positive community impact and
encourages her family and community to do the same. My father is a
pillar of quiet strength in our hometown, where he has volunteered as a
youth mentor for more than 30 years.
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