The 25th annual Human Resources Conference brought a day of camaraderie, inspiration, and innovation to 400 Johns Hopkins University and Medicine HR staff. The theme of the Aug. 18 event, which took place at the conference center of the Maritime Institute, was "looking to the past while lighting the way for the future," and recognized the need to focus on leadership and prepare for future contributions to employees' work and personal lives.
University President Ronald J. Daniels kicked off the conference by prerecorded video, summing up the valuable contributions HR makes to the institution: "Looking back, it's clear how Johns Hopkins has benefited from your imagination and expertise; how you make Hopkins a dynamic and welcoming home for so many; and how we wouldn't be who we are without you."
Paul Rothman, dean of the School of Medicine, thanked HR for taking the lead in attracting people to Johns Hopkins and helping them succeed once here, especially through programs and services offered by Healthy at Hopkins and the Office of Work, Life and Engagement. University Provost Sunil Kumar set the stage for the keynote speaker in his remarks about the importance of communication that "supports each other honestly so that we can all" reach our greatest potential.
In the keynote address, Louise Schiavone, senior lecturer at Carey Business School and on-air news anchor at NPR, discussed the imperatives of communicating clearly, taking the initiative, problem-solving, and getting along with others to resolve challenges in the workplace. She reviewed the traditional rules of discourse—first do no harm, know to whom you're talking, say what you mean with clarity, listen, do not offend, and "accept the realities of interaction with vulnerable people who may possess fear, skepticism, depression, and a lack of hope"—and the critical role that HR plays in staying on message about the organization's mission.
Conference attendees broke for two preselected workshops that covered such topics as a winning team culture, hot issues in employment law, working with transgender and LGBT employees, emotional intelligence and diversity, and dealing with difficult people.
In the afternoon, attendees listened to a panel of five vice presidents from Johns Hopkins University and Medicine. Panel members shared their career journeys to illustrate the ways in which HR staff can lead, even if they are not in leadership positions. Heidi Conway, vice president for human resources at the university, talked about the importance of partnership, collaboration, and hard work. Inez Stewart, senior vice president for human resources at Johns Hopkins Medicine, added the value of taking risks and not being afraid to learn and grow. Daniel Ennis, senior vice president for finance and administration for the university, concluded with the importance of surrounding yourself with good people, being humble, and having fun.
All HR employees—more than 600 in all roles across Johns Hopkins University and Medicine—were invited to attend the conference. Participants focused on updating their HR skills, gaining forward-looking knowledge, and networking with team members across the institution. The 25th anniversary drew the largest number of attendees in conference history and required an overflow room to accommodate them all. The conference committee wove anniversary celebrations into the day, including a sing-along with hits from 1992, raffles, a dessert buffet, and a photo booth.
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