Cassie Kohn, SHRM-CP, is passionate about helping companies learn how to support employees serving in the National Guard and Reserves.
She knows the sacrifices that civilian service members and their families make. As the wife of an Army National Guard member, she has endured her husband’s two yearlong deployments and post-deployment struggles.
She turned her passion into reality last year by helping to launch Operation Employment, a military support initiative of the South Central Minnesota chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). The initiative received a $10,000 innovation grant from the SHRM Foundation.
As chapter president, Kohn spearheaded the effort. The chapter has partnered with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Bosslift program, providing local employers with helicopter rides to show them what Guard members do when they’re away from their civilian jobs.
What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today?
Early in my career, I took a job with a company that didn’t have a good work environment. Two weeks after informing senior leaders of laws they were violating, I found myself without a job. It took time, but eventually I was able to feel proud of the fact that I stood up for what was right.
What’s your work philosophy?
I believe that everyone is hired to do a job, so let them. I try hard to let people manage themselves, stepping in only when things go sideways. We don’t need workplace drama. I wish that more people would focus on their own tasks instead of what others are doing.
What motivates you?
My children. I have two young girls, and I want to show them that women can grow up to be anything they want to be. I’m the first college graduate in my family. I want my girls to know that whatever profession they choose—a doctor, a scientist or a business professional—they will go far as long as they apply themselves.
Photograph by Lauren Everhard.