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SHRM Announces New Membership Advisory Council for 2024

ALEXANDRIA, Va – SHRM, the trusted authority on all things work, is proud to announce the 2024 Membership Advisory Council (MAC), which provides support to SHRM’s membership and Volunteer Leaders across the country. 

The MAC serves as an interface between HR professionals, SHRM’s Volunteer Leaders and the leadership of SHRM. The Council is composed of one elected representative from each of the five Regional Councils and provides strategic and operational input from SHRM’s nearly 340,000 members to SHRM’s Executive Team and Board of Directors. In turn, feedback from SHRM’s Board and leadership team is shared with the membership. 

“As part of our ongoing effort to improve our membership experience for HR professionals around the country, SHRM is excited to announce new members of its Membership Advisory Council. These change-making leaders of the HR world will serve as mediums of positive change between SHRM and its membership community,” said Mike Aitken, Executive Vice President, Human Resource Professional Solutions, SHRM. “We are proud to welcome Shirley Rijske, SHRM-SCP as a representative of the Southeast region, and Jason Sutheimer, SHRM-SCP to represent the North Central region. We are confident that these talented HR leaders will benefit the experience of all SHRM members during their tenures on the Membership Advisory Council. SHRM thanks its new, returning, and previous council members for their continuing dedication to the SHRM membership experience, and the elevation of the HR function around the world.”

The 2024 Membership Advisory Council members include:  

  • Louis Lessig, SHRM-SCP, Partner, Brown & Connery, LLP 
  • Shirley Rijkse, SHRM-SCP, Lead Professor HR & Workforce Readiness, Central Carolina Community College
  • James Abeyta Stevens, SHRM-CP, Chief Human Resources Officer, NM Wellness Center 
  • Jason Sutheimer, SHRM-SCP, Director of Human Resources, ND Department of Environmental Quality
  • Desireé Navarro, SHRM-SCP, Chief Human Resources Officer, Shodair Children’s Hospital 

Louis R. Lessig, Esquire, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, is a partner with the firm of Brown & Connery, LLP. His practice concentrates in labor and employment litigation, counseling, negotiations, speaking and training. Mr. Lessig represents clients in all types of employment and labor matters, including but not limited to claims of discrimination, harassment, hostile work environment, wage and hour irregularities and retaliation in state and federal courts as well as before administrative agencies including the EEOC, NLRB, U.S. DOL, American Arbitration Association, among others. In addition to his professional activities, he is the past State Director for Garden State Council-SHRM (NJ) and past Legislative Director for Garden State Council – SHRM (NJ). He is also a member of Tri-State HRMA where he is a Past Chapter President. Louis is also Past President of the Muhlenberg College Alumni Board. 

Shirley Rijkse, SHRM-SCP boasts extensive HR knowledge gained from diverse roles, including healthcare, cosmetology, and retirement community management. She excels in curriculum design, teaching, and coaching, helping individuals and students achieve their goals. Shirley has demonstrated strong leadership, achieving platinum status for SHRM chapters, and initiating student scholarships. She also mentors professionals and students to embrace their talents and reach their dreams. In Toastmasters, Shirley has held club officer positions, club coach, and area director. Leading Youth Leadership programs is one of her passions. Shirley has served on numerous boards, currently on a soup kitchen board and a Guardian Ad Litem for children in District 11. She holds numerous qualifications, including an MBA, SHRM-SCP, and a Master Certificate in Data Driven Leadership, among others. Shirley has actively contributed to SHRM at both the chapter and state levels, consistently exceeding expectations.

James Abeyta Stevens, SHRM-CP is originally from Las Vegas, NM and is a native New Mexican residing in Albuquerque, NM. He holds a master's degree from New Mexico Highlands University in Guidance and Counseling, Professional Counseling, which began his professional therapeutic career in 2012. He also holds an undergraduate bachelor's degree in marketing from the University of New Mexico, and a second bachelor's degree in organizational psychology from the College of Santa Fe. He holds a SHRM-CP certification from SHRM and a PHR certification from HRCI. On top of that, he is also a Licensed Mental Health Therapist in the State of New Mexico.

James recently retired as a Director of Human Resources in 2021 in the Native American tribal gaming industry extending more than two decades. As a therapist, he currently assists those with gambling addictions, bereavement, substance abuse, domestic violence, and career counseling. James took over as the Chief Human Resources Officer for his agency, where he doesn’t only do therapy, but completes all the HR functions as well. He led his large organization to more than a dozen #1 titles in a large company category within the State of New Mexico in organizational competitions such as the Albuquerque Journal Top Workplaces, Best Places to Work, and others.

Jason Sutheimer, SHRM-SCP is currently the Director of Human Resource at North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality; is the Founder of DisruptHR Bismarck; and is an Online Instructor of Human Resources at Dakota College at Bottineau. Along with his current full-time position, he also serves as the Government Affairs Chair of the Central Dakota Human Resources Association, and the President-Elect of the International Association of Workforce Professionals. He holds a master's degree in business administration from the University of Mary; a bachelor's degree in management information systems and business administration from North Dakota State University; and is certified as a Society for Human Resource Management – Senior Certified Professional from SHRM, Senior Professional in Human Resources from HRCI, and a Certified Workforce Professional from the International Association of Workforce Professionals.

Desireé Navarro, MBA, SHRM-SCP, is the Chief Human Resource Officer for Shodair Children’s Hospital, a non-profit facility in Montana specializing in psychiatric care for children and adolescents along with a nationally recognized genetics program providing care for all ages. Desireé has over 13 years’ experience in Human Resources, specializing in the non-profit/not-for-profit private sector for large and small organizations across multiple states. Desireé has been a SHRM Volunteer member since 2015. She enjoyed her time on the Montana SHRM State Council and local Helena SHRM Chapter where they achieved the SHRM Platinum Excel Awards.  

SHRM extends our sincere gratitude to these MAC members for their time and devotion to working with our community of Volunteer Leaders, SHRM members and local HR professionals. For more information, please visit the SHRM MAC website

About SHRM

SHRM is a member-driven catalyst for creating better workplaces where people and businesses thrive together. As the trusted authority on all things work, SHRM is the foremost expert, researcher, advocate, and thought leader on issues and innovations impacting today’s evolving workplaces.  With nearly 340,000 members in 180 countries, SHRM touches the lives of more than 362 million workers and their families globally. Discover more at


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