HR Excellence Awards Finalists

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Executive of the Year, Large Organization

David Kayuha

Chief Administrative Officer/Senior Vice President of Human Resources

National Church Residences

In 1989, when David Kayuha started at National Church Residences, it was a small property management company with a staff of 200, and his biggest goal was to bring affordable health insurance to the agency's employees across the nation.

Today, National Church Residences operates 15 health-care facilities and three home- and community-based programs, with nearly 3,000 employees in 28 states. Kayuha manages the 14 people who handle all those workers' human resources needs.

Among his most significant contributions is the creation of the BenefitsConnect system, a web-based tool that lets employees select their benefits when they first join National Church Residences and, later, make changes during open enrollment.

The system has helped nearly 75 percent of all employees take part in the benefits system, and has allowed Kayuha to manage those enrollments without hiring any additional staff.

Another initiative is a web-based payroll system that made the company's workflow paper-free, greatly enhanced the speed of changes and allows employees to manage their accounts from home or in-office kiosks.

Kayuha's skill can further be seen in how he manages the needs of two diverse divisions: property management and health care. He recognizes that the "cookie-cutter" approach doesn't work when it comes to dealing with the needs of employees as people.

He strives every day to help new and longtime workers understand the culture and business practices of National Church Residences so they view it not just as a job, but also as a philosophy.

Kayuha also works to help the staff maintain a proper work-life balance, espousing the philosophy: "If you are consistently working in the evening and on the weekends, you have too much to do or a time management problem. Either way, we need to address a problem."

And either way, colleagues say, he is there to help.

Executive of the Year, Midsize Organization

Jackie Parrill

Vice President for Institutional Planning and Human Resources Development

Central Ohio Technical College and Ohio State University at Newark

Jackie Parrill's human resources skills would make her a standout at any single organization, but the fact that she performs her duties for two institutions with separate missions makes her accomplishments seem even more impressive.

Colleagues say she has the ability to capitalize on the strengths of each institution, in turn using them to help the other operate more efficiently.

Parrill oversees four departments with a combined staff of 12, including human resources, institutional research, strategic planning, and marketing and public relations. Her duties include daily human resources tasks such as overseeing payroll and benefits as well as policies and procedures related to faculty negotiations and professional development.

But Parrill's greatest strengths lie in her understanding of the people she serves, coordinating everything from the details related to Higher Learning Commission accreditations to COTC's strategic plan.

Her recent efforts have helped to bring online programming to the college and allowed COTC to create three new campus locations.

She also championed a compensation initiative to bring greater equity to salaries and works to keep employees engaged through activities such as the Human Resources Book Club, the COTC/Ohio State Newark Women's Caucus and a Women's Leadership Development Mentoring Program.

Executive of the Year, Small Organization

Katie McGrath

Senior Vice President, Human Resources

Fahlgren Mortine

To see just how important Katie McGrath is to Fahlgren Mortine's human resources efforts, consider these facts:

  • When she was hired four years ago, the advertising and public relations agency didn't even have a human resources department.
  • For three of her four years there, she was the only HR practitioner, handling the needs of more than 150 associates across four states and nine offices.

During her tenure, McGrath has handled hiring and benefits, but she has also thrown her efforts behind retention and recognition. Those initiatives helped Fahlgren Mortine land the title of Agency of the Year in 2011 from the Bulldog Reporter, a leading industry publication, and a 2012 Agency of the Year finalist nod from PRWeek.

Recognizing the importance of happy employees in a strong work environment, McGrath led efforts to include a "people" section in Fahlgren Mortine's comprehensive plan, to help ensure employees are a prime focus through recognition, professional development and better performance review feedback.

To address workers' needs, McGrath created Fahlgren Mortine University, the agency's first professional development program, which offers internal workshops and speaker presentations to help employees hone their skills.

All of these projects came on top of her "regular" duties providing for the everyday payroll and benefits needs of Fahlgren Mortine, which in 2010 acquired three other agencies, adding more employees to the payroll and creating the need for a transition and integration plan.

Best Practices

Commercial Works

Five years ago, executives at Commercial Works realized that safety needed to become a prime concern. The company averaged 40 work-related injuries each year between 2000 and 2006. Something had to change.

Research revealed that 60 percent of accidents at the company, which deals in commercial workplace relocations and mid-market office furniture, occurred within an employee's first two months on the job.

When Michael Robinson was hired as director of safety and human resources, he developed a program to make safety a top priority, including expanding the new-hire orientation from 30 minutes to four hours and focusing on techniques for workers to stay safe during moves. He also created safety committees at each of Commercial Works' seven offices in four states, which now hold monthly safety meetings and daily Tool Box Talks at worksites.

The company also built a 5,000-square-foot, in-house safety training facility, where Commercial Works creates real-life obstacle simulations that a worker might experience during an office move, in areas such as individual work stations, conference rooms, server rooms and hallways. There's also a practice dock and truck for training on loading, unloading and securing cargo.

The end result: a 35 percent decrease in the average number of work-related accidents each year.

Under Robinson's leadership, the company was able to close a multitude of open workers' compensation cases. Last year, Commercial Works received a safety grant that brought $40,000 from the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation to buy new lift gates for its truck fleet.

Cutting Edge

Stacey Edelman

Human Resources Account Manager

Group Management Services

Stacey Edelman was with Group Management Services for five years before joining its human resources staff in 2009, but she noticed not everyone shared her level of dedication to the professional employer organization.

That high turnover rate led Edelman to develop the Human Resources Account Manager Training Program for the company. As a PEO, Group Management Services handles HR consulting and outsourcing for clients. Edelman has been responsible for training new hires since the program's inception.

The 90-day program provides new employees one-on-one training in human resources practices, client interaction, internal software programs and best practices for daily workflow. Trainees also are invited to accompany Edelman on outside appointments to get in-the-field experience.

Edelman is credited with personalizing the training for each employee, and her willingness to provide support long after their training is complete has made her an invaluable part of the Group Management Services team.

Edelman's passion for supporting employees is also seen in her creation of an HR account manager training manual, as well as the development of numerous operational best practices for the entire department.

When she isn't training employees, Edelman maintains 40 client accounts, meeting with businesses, serving as these organizations' HR consultant and facilitating communication between clients and their employees.

Good Works, Organization


In 2010, Battelle leaders realized that as much work as the research and development organization had done to promote advances in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), it had done little to engage women in the STEM concept.

So it turned to five members of its human relations team to make such a concept reality. And so the Women in Science and Engineering Symposium (WISE) was born. The event, held earlier this year at The Blackwell Inn in Columbus, aimed to showcase the success of women in the field and provide education and networking opportunities.

The team members behind the three-day event, which drew a capacity crowd of 175 attendees, were Carol Rouch, Sumeeta Maxwell, Natalie Pepper, Paula Kirk and Sylvia Cook. Combined, they have 90 years of service to Battelle.

Their prime duties involve providing human resources support to the organization's nearly 5,000 employees, who work in 125 domestic and international locations. These five women immersed themselves in the WISE planning, even though none had event-planning experience.

The team worked from the motto: "Without content, we are simply hosting a very expensive party!" Organizers brought in such prominent voices as Dr. Julie Gerberding, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as keynote speaker. They also developed an agenda filled with panel discussions and presentations on the role of women in science and technology, from some of the leading minds in the field.

Good Works, Individual

Carman Wirtz

Vice President of Human Relations

Memorial Hospital of Union County

For seven years, Carman Wirtz has been the "go to" person for human resources at Memorial Hospital of Union County, but she has also proven to be a leader across the county the hospital serves.

Memorial Hospital, the third-largest employer in Union County, has more than 750 employees who turn to Wirtz for guidance in such areas as benefits, salaries, retirement, employee relations and events.

In addition to her regular duties, Wirtz also oversees the hospital's volunteer department and its Kidzlink onsite day care while concurrently serving as a hospital ambassador to business entities throughout Union County.

She serves as chair of the Union County Chamber of Commerce Business, Education and Workforce Team, which fosters communication between the business community and county government related to training and employment opportunities. Wirtz is also a former chair of the group's legislative committee, which identifies issues important to the businesses of Union County and provides deeper insights and recommendations.

On a statewide level, Wirtz is a member of the Ohio Hospital Association's Health Benefits Exchange Task Force.

To those who know her best, colleagues say Wirtz is an ideal human resources professional, using her communication skills, patience, high ethical standards, trustworthiness and energy to make those at Memorial Hospital feel they are part of something special.

Nicole Kraft is a freelance writer.

Reprinted from the August 2012 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.