President, Executive

Jackie Linton, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

With more than 20 years of executive leadership experience, Jackie Linton is the President of JL HR Solutions, LLC, a full-service HR consulting firm focusing on talent management strategies; HR strategic planning; HR policies and process improvements; diversity and inclusion training and improvement strategies; and executive coaching.

During her career, Jackie has held leadership roles in operations, engineering, and human resources with a primary focus on process improvements in each of these areas. She has created enterprise-wide solutions for various companies using a systems approach, grounded in thorough analysis and clear metrics. This work has been proven to significantly impact and improve operating results. She has created and implemented HR strategies designed to attract, develop, and retain top talent including creating policies, processes and procedures, training, and development, recruiting and establishing practices to ensure legal compliance, all in support of business goals. She advises business leaders in the areas of change management, diversity and inclusion, performance improvement, strategic planning, and talent management to ensure sustainable results.

Before starting this HR practice, Jackie was the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for HR&Talent for the City of Philadelphia. In this role, she focused on improving the operation of City departments and agencies through strategic human resource activities such as training and development, employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, recruiting, onboarding and process improvements through internal consulting engagements. Prior to joining the City of Philadelphia, she held executive level HR positions including the Chief Human Resource executive for Synagro, the Vice President of Organization and Leadership Development at ARAMARK Corp. and the Vice President of Human Resources at Intracorp, a subsidiary of CIGNA Corp.

Jackie is a firm believer in giving back to the community and she has demonstrated this in her volunteer work. She is currently President-Elect for Philly SHRM, the Philadelphia chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management and was nominated for the 2017 HR Person of the Year. She is also a project executive working closely with MBA students at the Fox School of Business at Temple University as they complete their capstone project. Her volunteer experience also includes membership on the board of Career Wardrobe, participation as a counselor for SCORE, a small business support organization and participation as a tutor for adult learners with the Lutheran House.

She holds a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification from the Human Resources Certification Institute, a Senior Certified Professional certification from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM-SCP), a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Technology from Southern Illinois University and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Illinois.

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Past President, Conference Chair, Executive

Jameel Rush, PHR, SHRM-CP

Jameel is a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion leader with over 15 years of global talent management and human resources experience. He has worked in leadership development, organizational development, HR Business Partner, and talent management roles across several public and private organizations. He has his master’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Development from St. Joseph’s University and is a graduate from Temple University with a bachelor’s in business administration focusing on Human Resource Management and Management Information Systems.

Jameel has his master’s degree in Organizational Leadership and Development from St. Joseph’s University and is a graduate from Temple University with a bachelor’s in business administration focusing on Human Resource Management and Management Information Systems. He has obtained Human Resource certifications from Villanova University, his Professional in Human Resources Certification (PHR) from the Human Resource Certification Institute, and is a SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP). Jameel serves on the board for several non-profits including the Philadelphia Society for Human Resource Management, People for People Inc., the Graduate Advisory Board for Peirce College, and Research for Action.

Jameel has been recognized numerous times for his work in the Philadelphia and HR community including being nominated as an HR Rising Star of the Year in 2012 by the Delaware Valley HR Person of the Year Awards, receiving the HR Rising Star Award from Temple University in 2015, being named as one of Philadelphia’s Top 55 Connectors and Keepers by Leadership Philadelphia, and being placed on Philadelphia’s Top Professionals under 40 list by the Philadelphia Business Journal in 2016. Jameel also serves as an adjunct professor at Temple University and Villanova University and participates in Temple’s HR Roundtable which uses local professionals to help guide the curriculum of their Human Resources Program.

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Vice President, Legal, Executive

Timothy M. McCarthy, Esq.

Timothy M. McCarthy is an associate attorney in the Philadelphia office of Jackson Lewis P.C. His practice focuses on representing employers exclusively in workplace law and employee relations matters, including management training, litigation defense, and preventive advice and counseling.



Mr. McCarthy graduated magna cum laude from Rutgers University School of Law-Camden in 2014 and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from Loyola University Maryland in 2011. While attending law school, Mr. McCarthy was an executive editor of the Rutgers Law Journal, was a Michael Young Scholar for his participation in the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, and served as a judicial intern to a United States Magistrate Judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.


Prior to joining Jackson Lewis as an associate, Mr. McCarthy was a Summer Associate in the firm’s Morristown, New Jersey office, and served as a law clerk to the Honorable Joseph L. Yannotti, N.J. Superior Court – Appellate Division. Mr. McCarthy is currently admitted to practice law in the state courts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, as well as the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the District of New Jersey.

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Vice President, Finance & Analytics, Executive

Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith is an Investment Representative and Financial Consultant with AXA Advisors, LLC in Bala Cynwyd, PA. As a Financial Consultant, Ryan takes pride in breaking complex planning scenarios into smaller more manageable pieces, to assist his clients in understanding how their investments, insurances, and tax/legal obligations* all play a part in their long term financial situation.

Ryan has extensive knowledge and experience in the employer sponsored arena. He has expanded his knowledge to become a Retirement Benefit Specialist of tax-sheltered plans. Throughout his career Ryan has built a diverse client base consisting of educates, self-employed individuals, small business owners, schools and non-profit organizations.

Ryan is a Philadelphia native and former all-public basketball player. Ryan carries the same ethics of hard work, integrity, and zeal learned on the basketball court to his business. Ryan has obtained several production awards including, District Leaders’ Corps. He continues to refine his processes and update his planning knowledge to achieve the highest level of service.

Ryan attended Clarion University of PA to earn his Bachelor Degree in Finance. He currently resides in Willow Grove, PA with his wife Michelle and their two children, Ryan Jr. (6) and Mirya (10).

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Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Executive

Patricia McConnell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Patty McConnell is an accomplished, creative, results-driven business leader with proven experience developing and leading high performance teams. As Senior Manager of Business Partner Services for The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Patty understands and proactively addresses the HR needs of her client business area, Clinical Support, a complex 2000+ person organization. In partnership with business leaders, she drives alignment between the businesses and HR through the development and execution of human resources strategy; builds organizational capacity and effectiveness through the delivery of various organizational development interventions; and ensures the effective delivery of quality HR services through the management of HR Business Partners.

Before joining CHOP, Patty held various leadership roles in the City of Philadelphia. Most recently Patty was the Streets Department Deputy Commissioner where she led the delivery of cohesive administrative services including human resources, financial operations, budget development and various supporting functions such as contract administration and supplier diversity. As a problem solver and leader committed to creating solutions to meet the needs of various stakeholders, Patty created and advocated for a variety of programs during her tenure. One close to her heart was a skills development program which prepared youth for a career in the field of Land Surveying. This unique program leveraged the talent of the department to provide opportunities for local at-risk youth and created a talent pipeline which would bridge future knowledge gaps in the specialized area of surveying. Other programs included veterans’ initiatives and career development resources programming for employees.

Patty has been involved in Philly SHRM for many years and has had the pleasure of serving in a number of Board roles including PSHRM’s annual Symposium Pre-Conference Co-Chair (2014 and 2015), VP of Programming (2011-2013) and VP of Emerging Leaders (2010-2011). In addition to her work with PSHRM, Patty volunteers her time and leadership to support other organizations such as Dress for Success and the Junior League of Philadelphia which promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women and improving communities.

Patty earned her Masters of Business Administration from Drexel University with a concentration in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Temple University. Patty is certified as a Senior Human Resources Professional and is certified in the administration and use of a number of assessment tools such as DISC and Myers Briggs Type Indicator.

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Vice President, Programming , Executive

Theresa Velykis, PHR, SHRM-CP

Theresa is currently the Director of Human Resources at Mastery Charter Schools in Philadelphia, promoting the Mastery mission and serving as a Business Partner for a subset of Mastery Charter Schools, in Philadelphia, PA and Camden, NJ.  In her role, Theresa ensures that Mastery Human Resources supports an employee-focused, high performance, outcomes driven organizational culture. Theresa is responsible for the delivery and management of key HR functions of employee relations, performance management, benefits, compensation, certification and compliance.  She works with school-based leadership staff to address employee needs, manage personnel issues, and implement a performance-based compensation system.  As the Director of Human Resources, Theresa is outcomes driven, organized, customer friendly and committed to the Mastery mission.


Theresa has provided Human Resources support for both non-profit and for-profit organizations. She began her Human Resources career with ARAMARK in the company’s Human Resources Representative program. During her time as a Human Resources Representative, Theresa worked with Human Resources leaders in the Sports and Entertainment business providing HR support and guidance during large scale events.

Theresa later accepted the role of Human Resources Coordinator for one of the top symphony orchestras in the world, the Philadelphia Orchestra, where she assisted both administrative staff and orchestra musicians in all areas of employment.

In 2012, Theresa joined St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, a leading pediatric facility in Philadelphia, as a Human Resources Generalist for. In this role, Theresa worked as an advocate for healthcare professionals and provided support in all areas of Human Resources. Theresa was a Six Sigma Lean Leader for St. Christopher’s and worked to implement process improvement initiatives throughout the hospital.

Theresa is a graduate of Temple University’s Fox School of Business and Management where she obtained her Bachelors of Business degree in Human Resources Management and her People First certification. She has been an active member of Philly SHRM since 2009 and has worked on the Programming, Emerging Leaders, Philly SHRM Symposium committees.

Theresa lives in Northeast Philadelphia with her husband Jason, son Jacob, and Labradoodle Duncan.

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Vice President, Chapter Services, Executive

Catherine Preim, PHR, SHRM-CP

Catherine is currently the Human Resources Manager with Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP, one of the top full-service accounting and advisory firms in North America.  Serving as part of the Talent Management team, she works directly with Partners and leadership in the Philadelphia and National Tax Business Units and provides guidance in regard to employee relations, performance management, compensation, and compliance.

Prior to joining Baker Tilly, she held increasingly responsible roles in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. Touching on everything HR and Talent related from recruitment and talent acquisition, project management, employee relations, training, to immigration.

Catherine is an active member of Philly SHRM and has been serving on the board for several years as Co-Chair of Membership and the Emerging Leaders Committee. Prior to joining the board, she served on the Emerging Leaders Committee in various capacities coordinating networking events and working with local Student SHRM Chapters. In addition, she previously served on the National SHRM Young Professional Advisory Council (YPAC). Her role on the Council was to advocate for SHRM’s Young Professional members (those under age 35) and provide guidance to SHRM for attracting and retaining non-member young professionals.

Catherine graduated Magna Cum Laude from Temple University’s Fox School of Business with a degree in Human Resource Management. She is also SPHR and SHRM-CP Certified. After living in the city for over 8 years, her and her husband Marc recently made the move across the bridge to South Jersey and are excited to explore their new location.

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Vice President, Certification

Margeaux Bernhard, MS-HRM, SHRM-CP

Margeaux Bernhard is currently the Human Resources Generalist at Parker McCay P.A., a full service New Jersey business and local government law firm. She has several years of HR Generalist experience and previously worked for Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region in Philadelphia. She is a member of the local Non-Profit Human Resources group and served on the Philly SHRM Symposium Committee. In addition to her professional work, she is a small business owner and co-founder of Makers Club, a NJ-based art club.

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Vice President, Certification

Karla Hill, MS, SHRM-SCP

Karla Hill currently serves as the Deputy Director for Human Resources and Administration for the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Planning and Development. She  has over 28 years of Human Resources Management experience with the City of Philadelphia. During her career, she has served as the HR Manager for the Department of Public Health, Offices of Fleet Management, Behavioral Health and Housing and Community Development.

Her experience includes  leading a team of professional and administrative staff responsible for labor relations, recruitment, career development and payroll, conducting job audits, writing class specifications and administering civil service exams.  Karla holds a BBA in Public Administration from Baruch College, a MS from Chestnut Hill College, and is an Adjunct Professor at Eastern University. Her mother moved from Limón, Costa Rica to New York City to pursue a career in nursing where she met her father, an entrepreneur from South Carolina. A native New Yorker, Karla attributes her passion for educational and economic inclusion to her upbringing and exposure to immigrant and diverse communities. She currently lives in the Northwest section of Philadelphia and enjoys spending her free time with her husband, two sons and mother.

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Workforce Readiness

Vice President, Workforce Readiness

Dawn Bruno, PHR, SHRM-CP

Dawn Bruno is the Vice President of Human Resources for McCormick Taylor, Inc., a full-service civil engineering firm providing creative design, planning, and environmental solutions primarily to the transportation and energy sectors. Her focus is on the company’s most important asset—its people.  Advocating for staff development and training, and managing a comprehensive benefits program are among her priorities. From employee benefits to employee relations and retention, Dawn oversees the life of an employee at McCormick Taylor.

With over 20 years of experience, Dawn leverages the insights she gains through working with ownership, management, and employees to help shape the strategic direction of the organization. Her blend of experience with business management and employee relations gives her a unique perspective that she brings to our firm’s leadership team.

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Vice President, Workforce Readiness

Kena Sears-Brown, MBA

Kena R. Sears, is Director, Continuing Professional Education and Workforce Initiatives at Goodwin College of Professional Studies. Kena is an accomplished professional with over 15 years of experience in advertising, marketing, and business development. For over 6 years, she held the position of Continuing Education Representative at Penn State Abington.

In this role, her exemplary strategic planning and natural interpersonal and communication skills were an asset to dozens of clients and students with professional development needs. Kena is an alumna of Penn State University, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a Master of Business Administration. She resides in Philadelphia with her husband and two children.

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Marketing and Communications

Vice President, Marketing and Communications

Ragine Williams, M.S.

Ragine Williams, M.S. is a Global Diversity and Inclusion Specialist for Merck & Co., Inc. Her first gig was at Smoothie king, and she approaches her profession the same way today as she did then: with a positive outlook, commitment to teamwork, and a hunger for knowledge. She is the ultimate HR Geek!

Ragine is passionate about embedding new perspectives of Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace. She is a graduate of La Salle University, with a Master’s Degree in Human Capital Development. Ragine attended Penn State University, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Labor and Employment Relations. As a Human Resources Professional, her goal is to put the Human back into Human Resources, making sure that every employee feels valued and appreciated. Ragine is dedicated to making the workplace an equal and safe environment for all employees—expanding her reach. Ragine is continuously thinking of new and innovative ways to embed Diversity and Inclusion into everything that she does! She teaches Strategic Human Resource Management as an Adjunct Professor at Drexel University. Ragine is also a volunteer with various nonprofit organizations in the Philadelphia area. She is a current and active member of Society for Human Resource Management Philadelphia Chapter. Ragine is a lifelong learner who enjoys exploring the world.

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Vice President, Marketing and Communications

LaRhonda Green, SHRM-SCP

LaRhonda Green, SHRM-SCP is a visionary human resources professional with over 8 years of experience partnering with senior leaders to sustain and grow organizations through people and culture. LaRhonda earned her bachelor’s degree in HRM from Temple University and continued her studies at La Salle University obtaining her master’s degree in Human Capital Development.

She currently works as a HR Business Partner on Temple University’s HR Employment team, where she serves as the primary HR contact for numerous schools and colleges across the university; counseling them on HR matters including compensation, talent acquisition strategies, employee relations, organizational change, and performance management. Before joining the Temple HR team, LaRhonda worked in the Retail, Industrial Manufacturing and Behavioral Health industries. In addition to her daytime profession LaRhonda is an Adjunct Professor at Temple and Drexel University, where she uses her knowledge and experience to teach students Business Ethics and an Introduction to HR course.

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Communities and Partnerships

Vice President, Communities and Partnerships

Kristina Syvarth

Kristina Syvarth is the VP of Learning for Saxbys. In this role she heads the training department, the team resources department, and the talent development department. She started with Saxbys in 2014 as a barista where she fell in love with hospitality, team development, and the company’s people-focused culture. She has since held roles as a Café Executive Officer, Leadership Training Manager, and Director of Training.  Kristina is passionate about advancing non-traditional educational models in higher education and now dedicates her time towards developing and supporting the Experiential Learning Program at Saxbys.


Outside of Saxbys, Kristina is an avid spinner, foodie, and reader. She holds a BA from the University of Delaware in Foreign Languages and Literatures (2009) and an MA from the University of Toronto in Comparative Literature (2010) and is PHR certified.

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Thought Leadership

Vice President, Thought Leadership

Melissa Sims

Melissa Sims is the Regional Chief of Human Resources for the Northeast Region of the National Park Service.  In this role, Melissa oversees the HR staffing and advisory services branch, learning and development and the policy and security contingent.

Melissa is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where she was commissioned as a Medical Service Corps Officer in the United States Army.  Melissa served as a hospital administrator for a field medical unit, a personnel officer at both the Battalion and Brigade level, the Chief of Human Resources for a large Army hospital and as a personnel officer for the Surgeon General of the Army.

Melissa began her career with the National Park Service as a Management and Program Analyst at the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C. in 2010.  She has served the Northeast Region as both a Partnership Specialist and, most recently, as the Regional Employee Development Officer.

Melissa has a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Systems Engineering.  Melissa also holds a Master of Science in Human Resources, as well as an MBA.  She is currently pursuing her PhD in Communications.

Melissa is the interim Country Lead for Change Management Institute, USA and is a Founding Member of the Greater Philadelphia Area’s Association of Change Management Professionals.  She is also an active volunteer for New Story, a charity that provides life-changing homes for families around the world.

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Vice President, Thought Leadership

Dennis Paris

Dennis is a marketing strategy professor at the Fox School of Business, Temple University. Having received several teaching awards, he has piloted and continues to teach an experiential curriculum to professional and global MBA teams who conduct market analysis, strategy and planning for live problem and client firms. Dennis also coaches and consults to businesses on how to increase their brand value through gap analysis and internal organization alignment with market strategies and execution, in addition to improving innovation and new product development processes.

Client industries have included Healthcare System, Municipal Economic Development, Military Contracting, Pharmaceutical Packaging, Manufacturing and various other diverse product and service organizations.

Dennis’ experience includes instructing, speaking, consulting, and coaching on new venture, product strategy and execution planning to a variety of domestic and international businesses, including non-profit organizations. In his early career for the Dutch conglomerate Philips, Dennis had responsibility for developing international strategies that were integral to a disruptive technology shift of the global computing marketplace.

Subsequently, he led and contributed to numerous international strategic marketing initiatives for a multibillion-dollar Japanese technology company in the planning and start-up of a new technology division, the turnaround of a maturing product division and a South American business unit, including the start-up of Mexico and Brazil subsidiaries.

Dennis has served in advisory capacities to the Pharmaceutical-Drug Exchange (PDE), the Manufacturing Alliance of Philadelphia and Peirce College in Philadelphia. He is a Board Director with the Economic Development Corp. of Gloucester Township, NJ, and with Philly-SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) as Vice President of Thought Leadership.

Dennis earned his MBA from the LeBow School of Business at Drexel University, and a BBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He received training at the Center for Creative Leadership in Boulder CO and INSEAD Business School in France for organization-management.

Dennis served in the United States Air Force Reserves for 11 years, and with a love for choral arts, has performed internationally with the Philadelphia Boys Choir & Men’s Choral, as well as the Greater South Jersey Chorus and Chamber Singers.


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Vice President, Membership

Noel Ridlon, M.A., SHRM-SCP

Noel Ridlon received her undergrad degree at Northern Illinois University and her MA in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from West Chester University. Noel has been working in Human Resources for almost 10 years, and has held a variety of positions in both non-profit and for-profit organizations. She also serves as an HR consultant for non-profits in the Philadelphia area.

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Vice President, Membership

Debby Derricks

Debby is currently the Director of Development for The Veterans Multi-Service Center, headquartered in Old City, Philadelphia. She serves organization in a dual capacity by management of communications and development efforts.

Before joining the VMC, Debby worked in both the private and public sector, including diverse projects within political campaign management, communications consulting and strategic marketing.

Her experience led her to be appointed to communications coordinator for the Philly Vets Home coalition, a community-wide, collaborative, and inclusive effort to end homelessness among Veterans in Philadelphia by Veterans Day 2015 and driven by an unprecedented collaboration between the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, two City offices, the Housing Authority, and four non-profit organizations committed to ensuring the success of the campaign.

Debby is also a Leadership Philadelphia 2015 Fellow. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Psychology from New York University.

If given the opportunity to boast, she will definitely mention her most beloved pit bull, Kennedy.

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Vice President, Sponsorships

Guy Cook

An introverted people-person, Guy has spent 20 years in the hospitality industry and has over 30 years of experience as a Senior Executive and Business Owner. Guy is the co-founder and owner of the Philadelphia-based corporate housing company Cook City Suites where he focuses on inventory management, corporate relationship building, and financial reporting/accounting. Under Guy’s leadership, the company has built a strong reputation for customer service and quality accommodations. He brings a wealth of managerial and leadership experience to his ventures and seeks to bring out the best in others.

Throughout his extensive career, Guy has proven himself to be skilled in people management, operations and financial management, negotiation, budgeting, and sales. He has served on the Rider University Finance & Economics Advisory Board, Chaired the Trustees Committee at Grey Nun Academy, and Chaired the 85th Annual live juried art show for Phillips Mill Community Association. He has a BA from Loyola University Maryland in Liberal Arts and an MBA from LaSalle University. Guy and his wife, Mary Ellen, have raised three children and currently reside in Washington Crossing, PA.

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Vice President, Sponsorships

Saadiq Stewart

Saadiq Stewart is an Account Executive at Lamb Insurance Services where he specializes in assisting non profits, human service organizations, and social service organizations with their insurance needs.

A life long Philadelphian, Saadiq loves the energy of the city and looks forward to being a part of the growth on its horizon while helping bridge the economic gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.


Vice President, Programming

Joanna Vazquez, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Joanna is the Director of Employment Services at Children’s Crisis Treatment Center (CCTC), a private non-profit agency dedicated to assisting children and their families coping with the impact of behavioral health issues, traumatic events and other challenges that have an effect on childhood development.

During her tenure at CCTC, she has successfully designed and directed the agency’s professional development program which prepares staff to meet the challenges of serving the emotional and behavioral needs of at risk children and families. She is also responsible for the strategic direction and administration of the agency’s talent management.

Joanna is the recipient of the 2015 Delaware Valley HR Person of the Year for Medium-sized companies. She holds a Master’s Degree in Human Resources Management from Saint Joseph’s University and is pursuing a Doctorate in Education Leadership at Gwynedd Mercy University.  She has been SPHR certified since 2011 and was SHRM-SCP certified in 2015.

Joanna has been a member of the Philadelphia SHRM since 2006 and had successfully co-directed the PSHRM Symposium from 2014 – 2017.  In partnership with the Emerging Leaders Committee, she also helped launch and implement the HR Development Series from 2009 to 2012. The series provided valuable career information for current, aspiring and in transition HR professionals who wanted to establish a definitive plan for progression within the field relative to their interests and goals.

An avid runner, Joanna recently finished her ninth Broad Street Run 10-Miler for Team CCTC and completed her first Philadelphia Half-Marathon.  She is currently training for her next half-marathon.

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Director, Day Events , Programming

KimberlyAnn Huegel, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Kim is the Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition at Philadelphia Insurance Companies (PHLY), a premier national Property/Casualty and Professional Liability insurance carrier that designs, markets and underwrites commercial products and services.  Kim leads the Talent Acquisition organization in identifying, recruiting, selecting and placing qualified candidates for management, professional and technical positions.  She is also responsible for developing and implementing strategic recruitment programs and identifying best-in-class recruiting practices to drive the Organization’s growth strategy.

Prior to PHLY, Kim spent time as the Sr. Mgr. of HR/Talent Management at CTDI, a full-service, global engineering, repair and logistics company providing best-cost solutions to the communications industry.  Kim led the development and implementation of strategic talent acquisition campaigns and owned the evaluation of CTDI’s recruiting function, strategies, and procedures while building strong relationships in a rapidly and constantly evolving environment.

Prior to CTDI and for the majority of her career, Kim was an HR Manager in a Global Shared Services organization at The Vanguard Group, managing a multi-site team responsible for all domestic recruiting operations and HR sponsored events. Kim was with Vanguard for 20 years, spending time managing teams in Leadership Development and HR Data & Reporting and also managed the strategic development and implementation of Vanguard’s Performance Management program.

Kim has extensive people leadership, HR, and business knowledge coupled with creative ideas for designing and implementing new processes and training with a solid history of success. She has strong operational leadership and planning skills, combined with the ability to coordinate the efforts of many to meet organizational goals.

Kim has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Performance Management from Immaculata University and has served on the PSHRM Symposium planning committee since 2012.

Kim enjoys spending time with her husband Patrick, their two children Toni and Michael, and is a devoted “Drama & Swim Mom” spending her free time attending her daughter’s musical performances and her son’s swim meets.


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Director, Webinars, Programming

Shakema Appleton

Shakema Appleton is a diversity and inclusion professional at Cozen O’Connor, a full-service law firm that has more than 750 attorneys in 27 cities across two continents and ranked among the top 100 firms in the country. Shakema is a highly effective, results-oriented strategic visionary that inspires a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion beyond compliance and onto skill and competence. In her current role, Shakema is responsible for tracking all diversity metrics – analyzing and generalizing data to show trends and impact across the firm; helping to enhance diversity and inclusion education efforts such as the development and facilitation of training/workshops, tools and resources; and researching, benchmarking, developing and executing the ERG strategy through project plans, communications, stakeholder engagement, timelines and milestones.


Prior to joining Cozen O’Connor, Shakema gained a unique blend of experience in various areas such as legal, diversity and inclusion, risk management, HRIS, finance, procurement, training and development. Shakema holds a master of arts in industrial and organizational psychology and is working toward a doctorate in human and organizational behavior concentrating on organizational leadership. Shakema is a mission-driven individual who is passionate about organizational effectiveness, development, change management, collaboration and organizational behavior.

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Symposium Programming

Vice President, Symposium Programming

Maria Downs, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Maria Downs is a Human Resource Project Manager at the Vanguard Group. She manages various projects within the organization that include both operational and strategic initiatives for performance management, workforce planning, payroll and leadership development departments within the organization.


Maria Downs is a Human Resource Project Manager at the Vanguard Group. She manages various projects within the organization that include both operational and strategic initiatives for performance management, workforce planning, payroll and leadership development departments within the organization.

She began her career at Vanguard after graduating from Saint Joseph’s University in June 2000. She has had experience in various areas, first as a client service associate for a department specializing in small business retirement plans. She then transitioned to various leadership roles as well as those focused on process improvements through data and process analysis.

Maria became interested in Human Resources while obtaining her Master’s degree. Her career in HR began as a supervisor leading the Data and Reporting team. As a result of her strong project management, she led a project looking to redesign the current reporting tools and develop the strategy for human resource reporting.

Maria has received her Master’s in Business Administration from St. Joseph’s University. She also has her SPHR, SHRM-SCP and recently obtained her Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification. She enjoys spending time with her husband Ryan and two daughters Allison and Liliana. In her free time, she enjoys running and exercising.

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Director, Symposium Programming

Juliette Finney, PHR, SHRM-CP

Juliette is currently the Human Resources Manager at F.A. Davis Company. In this role, Juliette manages the company’s benefit plan design, wellness program, and serves as an employee relations business partner. Juliette is working on completing her Master of Science in Human Resources Management from West Chester University.

Juliette started with F.A. Davis in 2012 as an HR Associate. She quickly grew her role within the company and was promoted to an HR Generalist in 2013 and in 2016 became a Human Resources Manager. In her current role Juliette has been a key contributor to growing the department and adding new systems to F.A. Davis. She successfully implemented the company’s first HRIS, was a strategic leader in the move to a self-insured medical plan, created and now leads the wellness program, and developed and provides upkeep on the company’s first compensation plan.


Juliette currently serves on the board of the Philadelphia Society of Human Resources Management (Philly SHRM), which is a Super-Mega chapter of SHRM National. Prior to being on the board Juliette volunteered for the Symposium Day Programming Committee and Pre-Conference Symposium Committee for three years as both a member and lead. In 2018 Juliette won the Delaware Valley HR Rising Star of the Year Award.


Before her shift into Human Resources, Juliette was a teacher for elementary age students.

Juliette lives in Philadelphia, enjoys cooking in the kitchen, being with her friends and family, and getting down to the shore as much as possible.

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Director, Symposium Programming

Vivian McLeod, M.S. HRD, PHR, SHRM-CP

Vivian McLeod is currently a Talent Manager, Diversity & Inclusion Champion with Vanguard Group. She has over 18 years of expertise in the Human Resources (HR) field supporting various industries such as financial services, pharmaceutical, securities, utility and managed services.  Vivian has served in a number of specialist roles within the HR field including employee relations, training, leadership development, diversity & inclusion and talent acquisition.

During the course of her career, Vivian has led large scale corporate initiatives that have driven corporate culture and employee engagement including the establishment of employee resource groups, the design of new and tenured employee orientation programs, the development and execution of talent acquisition strategy plans for sales expansions and a host of career development workshops to help employees better position themselves for long term career success.

Vivian is a qualified HR professional and holds both PHR and SHRM-CP certifications, a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management from Widener University and a Master of Science degree from Villanova University in Human Resource Development.

Vivian is an active member of the Philadelphia chapter of The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and serves on their professional development committee. She is also passionately involved in the community and speaks to students and adults on career development topics such as the power of networking, professional presence, salary negotiations and resume/interview techniques.

In her spare time she enjoys volunteering with seniors through Friends of the Elderly and speaking out on the importance of equal opportunity education for all children through her involvement with Philadelphia Futures and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Southeastern Pennsylvania.


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Director Pre-Conference, Symposium Programming

Edward Rogers, SHRM-SCP

Edward Rogers is a director for the United States Department of Labor (DOL) since 2011. In this role, Ed oversees reviews of EEO/AA compliance, compensation, talent selection, onboarding and employee engagement as well as all facets of investigations and analysis.

Edward Rogers is a director for the United States Department of Labor (DOL) since 2011. In this role, Ed oversees reviews of EEO/AA compliance, compensation, talent selection, onboarding and employee engagement as well as all facets of investigations and analysis.  

Prior to working for DOL, Ed spent 12 years with the PA Human Relations Commission (PHRC). Before leaving the PHRC, Ed was the Director of Compliance responsible for all dimensions of training and development of the staff and reporting monthly to the commissioners.

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Emerging Leaders

Vice President, Emerging Leaders

Kaela Blanks, SHRM-SCP

Kaela Blanks is the Senior Specialist of Global Diversity and Inclusion at Aramark, which supports the D&I strategy for Aramark associates around the world. This includes empowering Aramark’s 9 employee resources groups (ERGs), finding opportunities to make Aramark an even better place to work for all, and giving voice to the diverse stories within the Aramark community.

She has a passion for people and ensuring they feel comfortable and supported to bring their whole selves to work. Prior to Aramark, she has worked in various HR generalist functions but always having a focus on data and metrics, talent management, and diversity and inclusion.

Kaela has her bachelor’s in Psychology from Temple University and a masters in Organizational Leadership with a focus in Human Resources. She also is SHRM-SCP certified. Kaela is an active member of Philly SHRM and is now serving on the board after volunteering with the Marketing and Communications committee.

In addition, Kaela serves as Board Chair of Diversity & Inclusion for the Professional Women’s Roundtable (PWR), which works to empower and embolden women from all backgrounds. She also is a Content Marketer for Employee Cycle, an HR analytics start-up, and creates weekly blog content on various HR topics. In her spare time (when she can find it), Kaela likes to travel and explore the city for new food spots.

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Vice President, Emerging Leaders

Ryan Colomy, SHRM-CP

Ryan Colomy is a Senior Analyst – Total Rewards, with Morgan Lewis & Bockius LLP. In this role, he is responsible for the support and analysis of Morgan Lewis’ total rewards strategy and implementation as it relates to all U.S. HR benefits. Prior to his current role, he was a Senior Compensation & Benefits Analyst with The Glenmede Trust Company, an investment and wealth management firm headquartered in Center City Philadelphia.




Ryan received his Bachelors of Business Administration from Temple University’s Fox School of Business in May 2016, majoring in Human Resources and minoring in Legal Studies. Ryan also received his Associates Degree from Bucks County Community College, majoring in Business Administration. Ryan is currently pursuing his MBA from La Salle University and also holds the SHRM-CP designation.

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Alexander Simpson

Alex started his HR career with Aramark’s campus recruiting team where he helped rebuild the company’s campus strategy. Currently, he works as an HR Solutions Specialist with Takeda Pharmaceuticals as a member of the newly created People Solutions team. In this role Alex is responsible for providing simplified HR and employee relations support to all US-Based Takeda employees. He also sits on Philly SHRM’s Emerging Leaders committee.


Danita Jones, PHR, SHRM-CP

Danita Jones is an accomplished HR Professional and has competently established herself as a leader. With her progressive experience, Danita is responsible for managing staff recruitment/retention, performance management, policies and procedures, employee relations, and compliance. Danita has successfully implemented human resources management strategies which include streamlining on-boarding, enhancing employee engagement, and development of HR communications.

Through her many accomplishments, Danita was nominated for the Delaware Valley HR Rising Star Award in 2018. Danita is currently Director of Human Resources and Engagement at The Family Practice & Counseling Group.

Danita holds a BA in Psychology from Temple University and is a certified Human Resources Professional (PHR) and SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP).


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