Heather Mitterer Named 2022 Mentor of the Year

By SHRM Conference Today staff June 14, 2022
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Heather Mitterer, chief operating officer at Dynamic Growth Dental Support in Ephrata, Pa., is the recipient of the SHRM Foundation's 2022 Mentor of the Year Award.

The award recognizes a person working full time in an HR-related position or role who has devoted time to a mentee's career growth.  Heather Mitterer, right, the Mentor of thte Year, and her mentee Allyson Astudillo.

It's important to foster career growth, according to Mitterer.

"There is a song by Tim McGraw called 'Humble and Kind' that says, 'When you get where you're going, don't forget to turn back around and help the next one in line,' " she said. "I feel like my personal and professional responsibility is to take what I have learned and give it away to others to help them grow.

"There have been very few encouraging mentors that have helped me in my career, so I have decided to change that for others and be a positive role model in the life and career journey of those I have the opportunity to mentor."

Mitterer is Dynamic Growth Dental Support's first female COO. In that role, she oversees HR, with a focus on employee engagement and mentorship. Other responsibilities include supervising business systems and processes, developing team members, and managing organizational infrastructure. Prior to becoming COO, she served as vice president of people development and as director of people involvement for the company.

She has been CEO of Mitterer Enterprises, a wellness consulting agency, since 2015 and has a doctorate in philosophy from Walden University, where she also earned a master's degree in industrial and organizational psychology. She has a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership and a minor in psychology from Penn State University and has served as a Penn State alumni ambassador and mentor since 2014.

She also has an associate degree in business administration, management and operations from Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC).

Mitterer encouraged others to become mentors.

"Part of the excitement of achieving your professional or educational aspirations is giving that knowledge away to the next generation of leaders and professionals," she said. "You have the chance to impact the trajectory of someone's career and life. Why wouldn't you want to be a part of that?"

Allyson Astudillo, Mentee

Allyson Astudillo, HR manager at Dynamic Growth Dental Support, nominated Mitterer for the award. She previously worked with Mitterer at a different company, where Astudillo was a customer service representative and Mitterer was an HR manager.

Intrigued by Mitterer's background after seeing her LinkedIn profile, Astudillo asked Mitterer in 2017 to mentor her and teach her about HR.

"Dr. Mitterer was impressed by how quickly I learned HR," Astudillo said, and when Mitterer left to join Dynamic Growth Dental Support, she recruited Astudillo to serve as an HR generalist.

Mitterer has been a wonderful mentor, Astudillo noted in her nomination form, because she is supportive and resilient.

"She sees where I may be struggling and provides support by buying books, talking to me or even showing me how to handle things," Astudillo said.

Astudillo also admired Mitterer's "grit" in speaking with corporate leaders to make sure women were heard and respected in the workplace. She "continued to stand up to what she believed in and help others by speaking up," she said.

"I have seen her lead not only myself but other women in the workforce. She encourages them to 'keep swimming' and has guided them on how to get through their roadblocks."

Astudillo will graduate with an associate degree in business administration from HACC in 2022 and transfer to Penn State World Campus to study for a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership. She aspires to lead HR departments and move into a vice president role.

Mitterer and Astudillo each received a complimentary registration to the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2022 (SHRM22) from the SHRM Foundation, with lodging and a $500 travel stipend included.

This is the second year of the award, which was presented June 13 at SHRM22 by Wendi Safstrom, SHRM Foundation president; Tom Mathews, SHRM Foundation board chair; and Vernon Williams, SHRM Foundation program manager. 

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