Member Spotlight: Teresa Vaughn

Vice president of human resources, Johnson & Johnson Inc., Mount Pleasant, S.C.

Dori Meinert By Dori Meinert May 25, 2023

​The hardest moment of Teresa Vaughn’s life was when her 23-year-old daughter, Courtney, died of leukemia in 2010. 

But Vaughn, SHRM-SCP, knew she had a choice—either work through her grief, or become mired in it. Now, she says the devastating experience gave her a new perspective on work and life. 

“After that, anything you want to put on me, I can do it—because I’ve done the hardest thing I could ever do already,” she says. “It’s also given me greater empathy for others.”

Employees who are grieving have come to Vaughn’s office just to chat. She’s a good listener. But she learned early in her HR career not to say, “I understand,” because no two people have the same experience.

Her perseverance during difficult times is something she learned from her immigrant parents, who came to the U.S. from Colombia and Argentina. They instilled in her a strong work ethic, which Vaughn has practiced in a broad range of settings, from theme parks (including Disney World and SeaWorld Orlando) to manufacturing.

Vaughn has also worked hard to help others in her profession through her involvement with various local SHRM chapters and three SHRM state councils—Washington, Florida and South Carolina. Most recently, she served three years as state director for the South Carolina SHRM State Council.

What is your greatest accomplishment ever?

Opening Legoland Florida was fun. I got to hire my staff and furnish my buildings. We hired 100 people a week for 10 weeks that summer to open on time and under budget! 

What are you passionate about?

A corporate culture of caring for each other. Mean people suck. When I encounter someone like that, I try to turn them around, remove myself from the situation or fire them—legally, of course! 

What do you do in your spare time?

I love to travel and attend live theater and music performances. And I’m addicted to thrift-store shopping. In memory of my daughter, I volunteer with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to raise money for research into blood cancer treatments.  

Photograph by Brian D. Smith for HR Magazine.



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