Chad Sorenson, SHRM-SCP, was devastated four years ago by the suicide of his 15-year-old son, Sean. He and his family didn’t know how they would go on, but they knew they had to. Since then, they have turned their personal tragedy into a passion.
Sorenson, president-elect of the HR Florida State Council and a past president of the Jacksonville chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management, speaks regularly to groups about the importance of mental health awareness in the workplace. He joins his wife, Georgia, and son, Jonathan, 15, in volunteering for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
At the 2019 HR Florida Conference and Expo, Sorenson helped raise more than $14,000 for the foundation.
“More importantly, I spoke about suicide prevention and the need to remove the stigma about talking about suicide,” he says. “As a result, people shared with me their own struggles with depression and suicide. They realized it’s OK to stop hiding their past and talk more openly about their struggles, which in turn may help others.”
If you or someone you care about is struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 741741.
What’s your work philosophy?
My keys to success are devotion to God, dedication to family, continuous service, lifetime learning and remembering to laugh. These five principles have helped me grow my company, survive our son’s suicide and focus on what’s important.
What’s your favorite business book?
Awesomely Simple by John Spence (Jossey-Bass, 2009). Projects and initiatives are sometimes difficult to get started. At other times, they take on a life of their own. This book has helped me understand how to uncomplicate business and HR initiatives and get the ball rolling.
What do you enjoy in your spare time?
I’ve volunteered as a Boy Scout leader for 12 years. I also love singing. I sang with two opera companies; held the lead in community theater productions, including “Music Man” and “Bye Bye Birdie”; and sang backup on stage for artists such as Vanessa Williams and Barry Manilow.
Photograph by Sean P. Murphy for HR Magazine