May 30, 2018

Lehman College, City University of New York Student Group Receives Prestigious Award from World’s Largest HR Association

On May 25, 2018 the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) awarded a 2017-2018 Merit Award designation to the Lehman College Student Chapter of SHRM for providing superior growth and development opportunities to its student chapter members.


The SHRM student chapter merit award program, which began in 1972, was created to encourage student chapters to require ongoing excellence in the following areas: student chapter requirements, chapter operations, chapter programming and professional development of members, support of the human resource profession, and SHRM engagement.

“As we move Together Forward, young professionals like these being honored at distinguished student chapters play a vital role in SHRM’s success,” said Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, president and chief executive officer of SHRM. “I’m especially honored to thank this year’s award winners because they offer excellent evidence that SHRM’s future is indeed in good hands.”

Apr 20, 2018

Interview Prepration Workshop Friday May 4th, 2018 6:30pm!!

Apr 17, 2018

Check out our latest Newsletter: HR Trends to Watch in 2018, An Interview with HR Director, Catherine Kerr

Current Trends and Issues in HR –  An Interview with HR Director, Catherine Kerr
Interviewer: Kareen King, President, SHRM Lehman College Student Chapter
Contributions made by Mayrelin Tapia, Vice President, SHRM Lehman College Student Chapter & Alondra Garcia, Treasurer, SHRM Lehman College Student Chapter

Bio: Catherine Kerr is an accomplished HR professional, with seven years’ experience in various HR roles, predominantly at GRID Alternatives. GRID Alternatives is the nation’s largest and fastest-growing non-profit organization that specializes in providing solar technology and job training to under-served communities.

Catherine Kerr is considered a trailblazer and is instrumental in defining what HR means at GRID Alternatives. Ms. Kerr is the key player in starting, growing and leading the HR team and defining the organization’s values. Catherine is passionate about leadership and combines this with HR’s values and into strategies that will keep employees, motivated, productive and engaged as well as lead the organization to success. Catherine is currently based at the head office in California and is responsible for overseeing all HR functions including coaching & management, benefits, organizational insurance, policies & labor laws, culture & values, and co-lead on safety.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your professional journey, how did you decide on HR?

I started in an AmeriCorps funded position called “VISTA Leader” where I was essentially doing HR functions for the 8-12 AmeriCorps members the organization had at the time – recruiting, onboarding, helping with benefits questions, offboarding, etc. At the end of that year, the organization was just getting large enough (50-60 employees) to warrant having a full-time HR person. I started as an HR & Admin Assistant for a 4-office, single-state, 50-60 employee organization. Seven years later I’m the HR Director for an 11-office, international, 350 employee organization.

2. What do you know now, that you wish you knew when you first started your career in HR?

I always joke that if the organization or I had any idea what HR was before I started that they probably wouldn’t have offered me the job and I probably wouldn’t have taken it. HR is just so critical to the success of an organization! That said, I’ve really grown to love this field, so I guess I’m glad we were naïve.

I will say that one resource I’ve really come to rely on is my network of other HR professionals and mentors/advisors like our benefits broker. I didn’t realize how much information gets managed by HR – recruiting, compensation, employee relations, insurance, labor law, coaching and professional development, etc. Navigating those things requires deep knowledge of certain areas (e.g. medical insurance) and others, like employee relations, mostly live in the grey when it comes to navigating. I’m glad for the team I have now (including the folks who work above, next to, and report to me) but had I understood this better when I started I would have started to build that network sooner.

3. What do you think the most disruptive force or area in the HR field will be this year and how do you think it will impact businesses?

I think the big stuff for HR this year will be reacting to cultural events which are intertwined with equity work and Presidential edicts. If DACA is ending or threatened to end, how does HR navigate to support employees and reduce fear while staying in compliance with labor law? How do we create space for employees to navigate serious emotional trauma after events like Charlottesville or Parkland and still come to work and focus? And how do we do equity, inclusion, and diversity work from a social justice standpoint that is really meaningful and not just lip service? As millennials and Gen Z start to move into the workforce, and into positions of significance in the workforce, I don’t think what’s been done to date in diversity work will suffice to retain great talent.

4. What are some of the pros and cons noted and foreseen, due to the new Paid Family Leave Policy, which became effective January 1, 2018? What strategies would you propose, to support these pros and cons?

I don’t know if I’d call this a con, but I would say that any time legislation is passed with additional benefits for employees (whether paid sick leave, additional unpaid time off for victims of domestic violence, increase in minimum wage) it always has real, budgetary and production impacts on employers. That said, I think it’s really important for employees to get time off to take care of sick family members and shouldn’t have to worry about their own income and job security to do so. We also already have a fairly generous policy as an employer headquartered in California, so it was less of a change/adjustment for us.

5. How difficult has it been to source good healthcare providers and what strategies could HR Managers implement in order to provide employees with more affordable health care plans or incentives to lower their health care spending?

When we were a small organization, it was much harder for us to source good healthcare than it is now. We tap into the CIGNA network nationally. That can still have limitations in certain regions/markets but generally allows us to provide a good network to all of our employees. Plus, we have Kaiser out in California.

One thing we’ve done to cut costs is switch to self-funding some of our plans. There is definitely some risk to doing so, but thus far we’ve saved a significant amount on our annual plan premium costs, that has allowed us to continue offering good benefits, and a high rate of employer-covered premiums, to our employees.

6. The Trump Administration has proposed to revise various wage and hour requirements for employers. What impact do you anticipate such legislation would have on employee’s pay and compensation policies as well as the organization’s growth strategy?

My sense is that ‘revise’ here means make better for employers and worse for employees. I don’t anticipate this having a huge impact on our organization, although I imagine it will for many. Currently, we’ve extended an internal policy that exempt employees must make at least the minimum salary required in California (we are a California Headquartered company) which is higher than federal regulations. So, we’ve mostly been able to remain in compliance.

If the federal exempt salary threshold is revisited, and it is done at the level proposed by the prior administration, then it will have impacts as we have to make hard decisions about whether we give significant raises or re-classify employees who we know will work significant overtime.

7. What role does HR play in the promotion of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and how can HR monitor this?

HR plays a HUGE role in diversity, equity and inclusion work, but I don’t think it can be successful unless top leadership is also bought in. Leadership has to see the value, and champion the cause at all levels of decision making in order for the work to truly get done. But HR is often the team helping to develop policy, and most importantly, interpret policy so the day-to-day impacts are big. For instance, if you say you want to work more with the re-entry population, and you hire more from that population, what do you do if someone violates parole and is temporarily unable to work? HR and Leadership needs to put an equity lens on that decision, while still considering real business needs. If immediate termination is your default answer, you’re not really doing the work. HR is also the team who often hears employee complaints. We know we have a legal obligation when it comes to harassment, but what do we do about Microaggressions? How do we support everyone in the workplace?

Lastly, HR has the data on demographics and compensation which should be used to help create benchmarks for change/growth.

8.  In such a competitive world, what strategies are needed to ensure retention and engagement of employees?

To the extent possible, compensation is always important. But beyond that, I think employers need to focus on: training and supporting good management and managers, creating a flexible workplace that understands that an employee’s personal life doesn’t disappear the minute they walk in the door, and I really believe that advancing diversity, equity and inclusion work, in a real way, will matter with the incoming workforce.

9. How has technology and social media helped to improve your work, and has it created any limitations?  

We have a lot of locations, so technology plays a huge role in the work that we do. We track everything we do in some kind of system – SalesForce database, HRIS, etc. And we constantly talk via email, Google chat, Skype call, etc. It’s also allowed us to move some trainings to virtual which has created significant cost savings. That said, there is unquantifiable importance to in-person connections and each time an organization moves something from in-person to virtual, that cultural bonding piece is lost.

10. From an HR perspective, what would you say are some internal fears and barriers that limits organizational development?

Organizational cultures where employees don’t feel that their ideas can be shared and heard limit organizational development. Anyone can come up with the next great idea so your company needs to have a culture that supports that. Also, to work on growth, leadership has to be willing to say “we aren’t perfect, we could be better”. That’s strong leadership, but I think sometimes leaders fear that vulnerability in that way and will make them seem less strong as leaders.

11. What do you think the HR function would look like in the next 5 years?

I’m not totally sure, but I think in this day and age – with Parkland, with #metoo, with competition for good talent – companies see that HR is a critical function, so I hope that translates into HR being more and more invited and at the table for critical organizational conversations.

12. What would be your advice to HR students on building a successful career in HR?

Read a ton! stay up to date on trends in labor law, articles on organizational development, etc. Regardless of the position you’re in now, emotional intelligence, attention to detail/organizational skills, and strong communication skills will serve you in any role (HR or otherwise, honestly) so continue to practice those skills even if you aren’t currently working in HR or managing people.

Job Opportunity - SUNY Cobleskill

Click this link to apply

SUNY Cobleskill is currently looking to hire an HR Advisor. This is an HR generalist role with diverse responsibilities. 
About SUNY Cobleskill:
The State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill is an accredited polytechnic college that is primarily baccalaureate and residential. SUNY Cobleskill is one of few institutions in the United States where an undergraduate student may also choose to earn an associate degree. The College has an enrollment of approximately 2,500 students in 52 programs divided into two schools - Agriculture and Natural Resources; and Business, Liberal Arts & Sciences. An economic engine for rural New York, SUNY Cobleskill is home to a wide array of extended learning and professional development opportunities.  SUNY Cobleskill is located in a rural community one hour west of Albany, the state capital, and three hours north of New York City.

Modeling experiential education, SUNY Cobleskill is committed to providing small classes, excellent facilities, and a hands-on learning environment. Whether students plan to further their education or begin their professional careers, they graduate with the foundation to pursue their goals and to succeed.
Key to our strategic plan goal, to be a thriving and effective college, is our commitment to be a great place to work, and creating greater opportunities for diversity, inclusion, belonging and community. The human resources department plays an active role in both of these important areas.

Job Description:
The Human Resources Advisor serves as a member of a small HR/Payroll team committed to providing high quality, confidential services to the SUNY Cobleskill campus community. The incumbent performs a variety of HR generalist and compliance activities including overseeing the staffing process, providing benefits counseling, ensuring compliance with SUNY and campus policies, and supporting the Director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action with ad hoc projects. The Human Resources Advisor works with private and sensitive information concerning employees and the utmost discretion and confidentiality must be maintained.

Specific Duties and Responsibilities Include:

Perform a variety of HR generalist activities:

·   Oversee the staffing process, including search committee charges, posting jobs, placing advertisements, and sourcing candidates
·   Provide benefits and retirement information and counseling to employees, retirees and employment applicants
·   Update and enhance employee handbooks, and the HR website
·   Develop and conduct training programs as needed
·   Assist the Director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action with employee relations investigations
·   Administer Great Colleges to Work For survey
·   Represent the HR department in various settings, meetings and functions

Perform a variety of HR compliance activities:

·   Compile data to produce the campus' Affirmative Action Plan annually
·   Administer the campus workplace violence policy, including convening a committee, and conducting audits and surveys
·   Provide Title IX student training (sexual violence prevention)
·   Assemble Title IX compliance reports
·   Track faculty and staff compliance training attendance and issue reminders to ensure compliance

A bachelor's degree in human resources, business or a related field plus a minimum of three years of human resources generalist experience is required.  Master's degree in human resources or labor relations is a plus.  Employee relations, training, legal compliance, benefits administration and/or staffing experience preferred.  Must be computer savvy.

The incumbent must have excellent problem solving, relationship building and communications skills and the ability to confidentially address human resources, compliance and affirmative action issues. Must be organized, results and detail oriented and able to work with minimal supervision.

Must be available to work occasional evenings and weekends (especially in the fall) to provide training to students.

Additional Information:
·   This position offers full New York State benefits which are among the most comprehensive in the country. Salary range for this position is $50,000-$60,000.
·   SUNY Cobleskill is committed to providing a safe and productive learning and living community for our students and employees. To achieve that goal, we conduct background investigations for all final candidates being considered for employment. Any offer of employment is contingent on the successful   completion of the background check, and receipt of official transcripts.

Application Instructions:
The application review process will begin immediately and will continue until a suitable candidate is found; priority is given to applications submitted by April 20, 2018.
Completed application consists of the following:
1.   Letter of application, addressing qualifications, accomplishments, position     responsibilities, and college values 
2.   Current CV/Resume
3.   Names, emails and phone numbers of your last 3 supervisors 

Mar 26, 2018


Mar 17, 2018


Sylvie di Giusto
Watch Sylvie’s video:

Build Your Professional Image & Succeed at Your Next Interview

“You Have 7 Seconds, Make Them Count” says Sylvie di Giusto the professional image consultant who will lead this workshop. Sylvie is an author, speaker, coach, and owner of Executive Image Consulting.

As student professionals we must put forward the best image of ourselves. This workshop will show us how to:

  • Build a Strong and Dynamic Professional Image
  • Gain Confidence and Motivate Companies to Get Hired
  • Make a Powerful First Impression
The good thing is this impression is something you can control, and Sylvie will show you how you can influence the message you send to others. It’s a combination of your dress, your attitude, how you communicate and how you present yourself online. These are all things you can shape and mold to work in your favor and help you become the leader you deserve to be!

When:            Wednesday, March 28th      6:00 - 7:00 PM Registration & Networking
                                                                    7:00 - 8:00 PM Presentation

Where:           NYIT Auditorium on Broadway, 1871 Broadway (north of W. 61 Street)

Cost:               FREE Admission

Networking before the presentation will be a great opportunity to meet other HR professionals so bring your business cards, wear business casual attire, and get ready to practice your pitch!

Register:  by Monday, March 26, 2018

Co-Sponsors:  NYIT-SHRM (                           NYC-SHRM (
Contacts:        William Ninehan (         Joanne Alicea (

Mar 6, 2018