Award winners from left to right: Susan Simmons, Beth Davisson, Howard Blackburn, Lyle Hanna, Lynn Ingmire, Cathy Fyock, and Jeff Nally.
Additional Award winners:
Julie Burwell Susan Harmansky Sherry Powers
In 2005, the Lyle Hanna Volunteer Spirit Award was developed to recognize volunteer SHRM leaders in Kentucky. The award, named after two-time KYSHRM chair Lyle Hanna, SPHR, SHRMSCP, honors recipients for “tireless efforts, enthusiastic spirit and passionate commitment to serve the HR professional and advance the HR profession.”
"The winners of this award include Jeff Nally, Cathy Fyock, Susan Harmansky, Julie Burwell, Lynn Ingmire, Susan Simmons, Howard Blackburn, Scott McGarvey, Damian Wirth, Steve Rinehart, Sherry Powers and Beth Davisson."
Recently, the past winners were asked about volunteerism, KYSHRM and professional development. Here are their responses.
Q: What’s the most important aspect of giving back to our profession?
Hanna: The future of human resources in Kentucky, and possibly around the world, is built on our shoulders. If we are able to raise the bar, enhance the respect of the profession and create better opportunities for future HR professionals, we will have done well!
Davisson: Serving in our profession helps me to ensure I am staying sharp on the latest research, continuing to innovate and am connected to the top HR and business leaders in Kentucky. Last, but certainly not least, I believe wholeheartedly that servitude to others is one of the strongest leadership muscles one can build.
Blackburn: I believe giving back to our profession is one of the most important things to do. By giving back you are helping those new to the HR world and establishing life-long friends and colleagues.
Simmons: It’s rewarding and beneficial to serve on your local SHRM chapter as well as the State SHRM Council, but it’s also very important to serve as a mentor and guide to those new in their career or possibly haven’t had as much exposure to workplace and personnel issues.
Wirth: Giving back to our profession is simply the right thing to do. If others before me had not re-invested or shared time to be a mentor, where would I be? Giving back perpetuates the growth and richness of our professional community.
Fyock: I believe that the profession and SHRM in particular has been very good to me, and I love paying it forward.
Q: How do you continue to give back to the profession?
Blackburn: I continue to serve on the state council co-chairing the state conference. I also think it’s important to be a resource for others.
Ingmire: I remain involved with my local chapter, Louisville SHRM, by assisting with the certification study group to help prepare candidates to sit for SHRM’s certifications. I am now serving in the chair position and working with the state council on statewide initiatives, which will serve the professionals throughout the state. I also serve on the HR Advisory Committee of Boys and Girls Haven in Louisville assisting the organization in addressing their HR challenges.
I also teach the two-day program, Essentials of HR Management, at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s annual conference to provide basic HR training for HR professionals within the electric cooperative organizations across the country.
Powers: I always want to put my best foot forward and be available to my community’s nonprofit organizations such as Helping Hand, United Way, local sports teams and sharing HR expertise with colleagues.
Simmons: I have served, and continue to serve, on the KYSHRM Council and other groups that address workplace issues. Most recently, I’ve joined the Kentucky Chamber’s Workforce Advisory Board and am excited to ensure that the needs of Kentucky’s businesses are met through a stronger workforce.
Fyock: Even though I’m no longer in HR directly, I enjoy working in the intersection of HR and authorship. In my work with the magazine and newsletter for KYSHRM, and in developing anthologies for HR professionals, I can continue to stay connected to the issues and to my friends and colleagues.
Wirth: I share knowledge that either I gained on my own or that others shared with me. It’s important to continue to share best practices.
Hanna: It’s important to keep up with the latest trends in the profession, and to look for opportunities to distinguish the profession, exploring solutions that improve business results through HR. It’s also important to encourage younger professionals to reach for the stars and enhance their skills and talents.
Davisson: I am currently the immediate past president on the Louisville SHRM Board and the district director for Kentucky SHRM Council. I serve as a committee member on the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board, and I am part of the advisory board for the Sullivan University Human Resource Leadership Program. In addition, I am a Leadership Louisville Bingham Fellow (Class of 2017) studying workforce for greater Louisville. Lastly, I am the executive director of the workforce center at the Kentucky Chamber, a non-profit organization that serves as the private sector’s resource for education and workforce initiatives designed to meet Kentucky’s most pressing workforce challenges.
Q: What did winning the Hanna Spirit award mean for you?
Blackburn: It was one of the most humbling experience of my life. Being recognized by my peers for doing what I love has to be the most important award I have ever received - save for my being awarded my Eagle Scout award.
Simmons: It’s an incredible honor and humbling experience to win the Hanna Spirit award. While I feel it’s my responsibility to give back and be involved, I never expected to be included in the ranks of the others who have received this honor. I see them as having such great prestige and clout in our state, and I’m just blessed to be counted among them.
Wirth: It is the greatest honor in my professional career. I can’t think of anything better than earning recognition from your peers and those you admire.
Ingmire: Having been nominated by members of the chapter, to which I had belonged for 17 years, was a tremendous honor in and of itself. To have been chosen from a group of well-deserving candidates from across the state was overwhelming and instilled a great sense of pride and humility. I was joining an esteemed group of past winners whom I had admired for their devotion to our profession.
Hanna: The award is distinguished by the many talented HR professionals who have received it over the years. Being associated with the award makes me constantly strive to be worthy of it.
Burwell: The award was tremendously meaningful for two reasons: First, it is important for me to give back and support organizations whose missions go beyond just making money. Second, I’m honored to receive an award named for Lyle Hanna, whose decades of work in HR have elevated the profession of HR.
Davisson: I just received this incredible honor in December of 2016, and I am still so moved by it. If you look at the accomplishments of the winners who have gone before me, it’s awe-inspiring to be in the same category. I also know them personally, and, to their core, they are some of the finest Kentuckians in the Commonwealth. Plus, the award is named after Lyle Hanna, one of our states strongest leaders in business and public service. As the “freshman” of the group, it’s now a lifelong goal to continue to live up to the award’s namesake and the long list of winners before me.
Q: What are your most important contributions to the profession and to the professional?
Wirth: Every day I make it a goal to read and research even if it’s simply a few minutes. This continual learning sets an example for others and hopefully makes me more valuable. I can contribute to my own organization, lending credibility and making HR a crucial resource during the company’s strategy sessions.
Fyock: I think that my books are important contributions and provide a legacy for my work in staffing and employment issues and in the issues of an aging and changing workforce. I have also been able to impact discussions around purpose and spirituality in my book Hallelujah! An Anthem for Purposeful Work.
Blackburn: I think my research on the Affordable Care Act and doing presentations across Kentucky helped a large number of professionals better understand this very complex piece of legislation.
Burwell: I’ve held volunteer SHRM leadership positions on the local, state and national levels, and am currently a member of the SHRM Ethics Hearing Committee. Outside of HR, my key volunteer work has been as a board member and president of the Ronald McDonald House in Lexington.
Hanna: Early in my career, serving as the chair of KYSHRM in 1992 and again in the 2000s was significant, as was building the Best Places to Work in KY initiative. I also served as the chair of the KY Chamber which distinguished HR with other top business professionals. I’ve been involved with Habitat for Humanity, serving as vice chair of Habitat for Humanity’s International Board. With SHRM I’ve chaired the foundation and also served on the HRCI board. Most recently, I gained the support of Secretary Heiner for the Bridging the Talent Gap Survey, recruited the governor’s support and raised the funds for the survey. These things were important because they either added strength directly to the profession or helped inspire and serve as a role model for others.
Simmons: I founded the Elizabethtown SHRM ESHRM chapter in 2002 in order to get our local HR professionals together regularly to meet, share, network and learn. I served as the initial chapter president. Since that time, I’ve served on the KYSHRM State Council most every year in various roles, including chair. I’m currently serving as immediate past chair and cochairing Best Places to Work.
Q: What does volunteering mean to you?
Blackburn: To me, volunteering means gladly giving your time for others without any expectation of receiving anything in return.
Simmons: It’s having a selfless and giving heart. It isn’t signing up for or joining something to add to a resume. It’s committing yourself to help in some way and giving yourself fully to it.
Hanna: It feeds my restless soul. It creates challenges, the accomplishment of which provide me ultimate satisfaction. It answers the daily request: Lord give me the opportunity to serve someone in need today. Please send people my way whom I can help. Bottom line: it makes my Mom proud!
Ingmire: Volunteering is a way to give back to the profession. It also is one of the meaningful ways outside of work to find fulfillment to be able to face the challenges of the work day.
Fyock: It’s not possible to give and not get something back. Volunteering is a way to continue to pay it forward.
Q: What benefits have you realized from your volunteer efforts for SHRM?
Hanna: A lifetime of satisfaction. My volunteer work has been integral to my business success. While at Mercer, I convinced the company to help build 26 Habitat Houses across the nation in 2001, which lead to a write up in Fortune Magazine, which lead to recognition from the top executives and a significant expansion of my job duties. My management realized if I could run meetings, work hand and hand with President Carter, the president of the Philippines, Cardinal Sin, the Lord Mayor of Belfast and other executives around the world for Habitat, I should probably be doing more with and for their executives!
Powers: By helping others I have found immeasurable joy through the combined efforts of extraordinary people working toward a common goal.
Q: Previous winners have been getting together at the leadership conference for dinner and other informal occasions. What have you learned from staying in contact with previous winners?
Hanna: I am inspired by being around all the great leaders! Their enthusiasm and energy are contagious. No one leader can have the impact of the large team of leaders. We share ideas and inspire each other to raise the bar for all of HR!
Blackburn: They are some of the most engaging people I have ever met. When we get together, I always learn something new that I can incorporate into my company. Their friendship and their willingness to be a soundboard for ideas or issues you may have. They are some of the nicest people you would ever want to know and be associated with on both a personal and professional basis.
Powers: It is motivating for me to see everyone continue to inspire others and take their passion to the next level.
Simmons: These are the movers and the shakers in our industry. They are people I can rely on for assistance, support, friendship and even to be my cheerleader at times. You see these individuals at most HR related events, very often in speaking roles. I put them all in such high regard and I’m honored (and humbled) to be counted amongst them.
Fyock: Friendships are probably one of the most important benefits. I truly value my strong ties with my HR colleagues.
Q: What advice would you give to other HR professionals?
Powers: Life is more fun when you say yes. Find a good reason to say yes, jump outside your comfort zone, connect with your community and make a difference.
Simmons: Get involved. Attend your local chapter meetings and get on committees, volunteer to serve as an officer, mentor others whenever you can, volunteer in your community, build your network of other HR professionals and enjoy all that you do. It’s so rewarding to be involved with others who have the same passion for our profession.
Hanna: Listen, learn, share, care and look for opportunities to serve. Remember that improving the profitability and success of a business is an important service!
Ingmire: Embrace the challenges brought to you every day and don’t give up your soul. Remain steadfast in your beliefs and principals. Your job will be very demanding and, at times, consume you. Find meaningful ways outside of work to fulfil and invigorate you for the continued challenges of your profession. Volunteering in your local chapter or state council will provide you with the opportunities for interaction with other HR professionals and opportunities to work together on initiatives which will serve other professionals and advance the profession.
Blackburn: Understand what a huge impact we have on people and our organizations. I believe that being in HR requires a great deal of compassion, understanding and a genuine love of people. I also firmly believe that hubris can be avoided by not taking yourself too seriously and having the ability to laugh at your own foibles.
Wirth: Seek opportunities to get involved. You don’t need to force your way to the front. Be present, observe, learn and listen. Then when an opportunity presents itself, contribute confidently with the mindset to make a positive impact without thinking about self-reward.
Burwell: The first is something I also learned at Good Samaritan: You can be effective or you can be liked by everyone. You can’t be both.
Second, be scrupulous about who you hire. Everything starts there. No matter what kind of company, hiring the right people for the right jobs and creating an environment where they can do their best work is the most important thing that you can do.
Davisson: I highly advise getting involved with your local SHRM Chapter and/or KYSHRM. You will likely experience that you will gain far more than you will give. By the nature of their work, HR professionals are typically doers, givers and are caring of others. Partner those attributes with those that are drawn to volunteerism and you have a special group filled with some of the smartest, most passionate and kindest professionals in the state.
Fyock: Get involved in your local chapter. Stay involved through state and national leadership roles. Come to the meetings. Get to know your colleagues and peers. Write! It’s a way to leave a legacy and pass on your knowledge and thought leadership.