Home >  News and Events >  News Details  

News and Events

HR Leadership Awards Winners Recognized at HRLA Gala

Thursday, June 13, 2013

 ARLINGTON, VA – Winners of the 2013 HR Leadership Awards of Greater Washington were announced at the twelfth annual awards ceremony at the Crystal Gateway Marriott on Tuesday, June 11.


Established in 2001, the HR Leadership Awards of Greater Washington honor HR executives for outstanding contributions to their organizations and to the field of human resource management through organizational leadership, risk-taking, innovation, vision, mentoring, community service, and ethics.

 LEADERSHIP (companies with 1,000 or more employees)

Honors a senior human resource professional whose influence and leadership enables their organization to achieve improved business performance.   

 WINNER: Pamela Wagoner, Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, W. R. Grace

Pamela’s clear direction and inclusive approach helped W. R. Grace to adopt significant change as they re-organized HR and their operations. When coming into the role, she conducted a full review of existing vendor arrangements and contracts to address competitive benchmarking, compliance, duplicate services, and overpayments. As a result of this review, she facilitated changes where needed that resulted in $3 Million of savings in the health plans alone.

 LEADERSHIP (companies with fewer than 1,000 employees)

Honors a senior human resource professional whose influence and leadership enables their organization to achieve improved business performance.   

 WINNER: Sandy Beitel, Vice President of Human Resources, Koniag, Inc.

Sandy assembled a cohesive HR team to partner with their newly acquired businesses to drive change through a project-focused process. Once established, she led the development of an integrated view of HR strategy, encompassing leadership capabilities, individual performance management, total reward, HR services, HR policy and compliance, employee development and resource planning, recruiting, and on-boarding. Sandy partnered and collaborated with business leaders to determine business objectives and opportunities for improvement.

In less than 24 months, Koniag has developed a sound benefits program that provides savings of close to $1M; a further enhanced HR information system with capabilities of management reporting and interdepartmental data flow which has directly impacted the integrity of the processes within HR, Finance/Payroll and IT; a comprehensive performance management system incorporating corporate values in establishing individual goals tied to business objectives; a compliant compensation program across the entire organization; branded HR communications that have influenced other departments to do the same; collaboration between geographically dispersed departments, and updated and refined policies and procedures standardizing practice across the businesses.


Honors an individual for developing and delivering human resource solutions that strengthened the organization’s ability to achieve its strategic business objectives. 

 WINNER: Sheri Mullin, Vice President of Human Resources, Contact Solutions

 Sheri Mullin joined Contact Solutions in April of 2012 when the business experienced a record year of growth followed by a period of significant transformation in executive leadership. Sheri focused on creating an organizational structure to support growth and transformational challenges. She led the search to expand the executive leadership team by recruiting top talent and established a senior leadership team of functional directors within the company. She also initiated and developed internal core values around engagement, innovation and continuous improvement. To manage growth, Sheri led efforts to create committees around key initiatives, as well as cross-functional teams to align and engage the business. The engagement program includes quarterly all hands meetings to keep employees knowledgeable about company goals and results. She also helped implement off-site executive strategic planning sessions to ensure the entire business was focused on high growth and the ways to achieve it. Sheri led two resoundingly successful companywide team-building events to recognize individual and organizational success.


Honors a team for developing and delivering human resource solutions that strengthened the organization’s ability to achieve its strategic business objectives. 

 WINNER: L-3 STRATIS Talent Management Team

Sharon Beery, Marie McCarty, Linette Sanchez, Mary Tack

The STRATIS Learning Series was created to support a large direct workforce located at customer sites, many employees have limited or no time/access during the day to get information related to company processes, policies and relevant legal topics. The Learning & Performance (L&P) team identified the topics that were the most popular among employees using random surveys, input from participants in leadership/management classes, and interviews with support operations employees.

 INNOVATION - individual

Honors an individual for thought leadership in creating and implementing new ideas, methodologies, or approaches that improve organizational performance. 

 WINNER: Karen Maude, Director of Human Resources, NES Associates, LLC

 As Director of Human Resources, Karen Maude faced the challenge of a growing company at a rate of 63% with a small HR department. Karen knew her team was reaching capacity and struggling to maintain the high level of customer service its employees expected. Karen’s request to her boss for additional HR staff was denied so she decided the HR department had to be more efficient. After researching, Karen presented a case to her boss for adding multiple new technologies across divergent areas which would increase the efficiency of the HR department and enable a higher level of employee engagement. She requested an increase to the HR budget to support software for an applicant tracking system, new hire onboarding, employee performance management and a learning management system.


Honors a team for thought leadership in creating and implementing new ideas, methodologies, or approaches that improve organizational performance. 

WINNER: AOL Team- People Development

Sara Achtzener, Tina Cole, Melissa Frescholtz, Jennifer O’Dowd, Jessica Solloway, Roslynn Williams

AOL was faced with shrinking training budgets and a turnaround environment where time-strapped employees close to burnout have little time to put towards personal development. AOL’s People Development team (PD) designed two unique and creative programs to address these challenges: UnUniversity (UnU) and Sustainable High Performance (SHP).


Honors an individual who demonstrates leadership, dedication, and support to the professional growth and development of others. 

WINNER: Michele Neiman, Director, Talent Acquisition, Northrop Grumman

Acknowledging the need for more personal and professional development, Michele developed a quarterly mentoring program called Ladies that Lunch. Reaching approximately 50 women each quarter across the country, Ladies that Lunch has expanded throughout Northrop Grumman’s HR departments. The use LiveMeeting online, round table technology and a share center space to keep articles, recommended books and videos on session topics. As a result, conversations continue past each meeting through blogs, action items for future meetings and further development of mentoring relationships.

In addition to Ladies that Lunch, Michele has been the HR Program Manager for CyberPatriot, an online cyber defense competition for high school teams as part of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiative. Michele continues her love of mentoring high school students. She has grown the Information Systems Sector high school internship program from three students in 2011 to 23 students in 2012. The internship program offers students interested in Cyber Security a head start in fulfilling their dreams and helping build a future talent base.


Honors an individual, team, or organization for leadership, dedication, and achievements that help create positive change in the community.

WINNER: Naomi Morales, Vice President of Human Resources, The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

Over the past decade, with the help of her HR team and the support of the senior leadership of PhRMA, Naomi Morales vastly expanded involvement in community service. She involved all levels within the association to create a culture in which community activities are viewed as valuable to the individuals, as well as the organization. As a result of employees working on community endeavors that they are passionate about, the average tenure for employees at PhRMA has doubled over the last eight years.


Honors the outstanding individual who demonstrates a considerable and enduring commitment to ethical business practices in the field of human resource management.

WINNER: Genearlene Neil, Vice President of Human Resources, Mortgage Bankers Association

Gene Neil has been vice president of HR and a leader at Mortgage Bankers Association for the past 30 years. The cornerstone of her success has been her consistent honesty, integrity, and ethical behavior. During her diverse HR career, Gene’s commitment to her principles and the MBA was challenged most recently by the global financial meltdown, ensuing reputational concerns, several changes in leadership with corresponding shifts in strategic direction and, ultimately, staff reductions. Her team pro-actively prepared employees, so that MBA could rebuild and maintain a climate of mutual trust and respect. Gene was also able to work with the leadership team, arguing against more traditional approaches, such as job cuts, to keeping the organization viable and delivering member services. She implemented merit pay and promotional practices to ensure that the remaining MBA staff continued to be compensated appropriately and recognized and rewarded for the increasing workload.


Three HR Leadership Awards Scholarships of $4,000 each were awarded to:

·         Amanda Cogan | George Mason University

·         Doug Rogers | Marymount University

·         Jessica Searing| George Mason University


The HR Leadership Awards of Greater Washington would like to thank the following corporate sponsors:

 UNIVERSITY SPONSOR: Marymount University 



DIAMOND SPONSORS: B. F. Saul Company Hospitality Group, Greenberg Traurig, Northrop Grumman

GOLD SPONSORS: Lee Hecht Harrison, Lockton Companies, Ultimate Software

SILVER SPONSORS: CAPTRUST Financial Advisors, HR Certification Institute, Kaiser Permanente, RHI Executive Search, TalentWise, THE CENTECH GROUP, Inc., The McCormick Group

To participate in next year’s awards program, visit www.hrleadership.org or call Melissa Benik at 703-284-5916.