The following information is from the completed 2020 event. Please check back in the spring for details on next year.

Our staff will be working remotely for the next few weeks to promote the health and safety of our community. Please visit the Contact Us page or email to get in touch. 

Virtual + Strategic HR: Oct 21-22 & 28, 2020

All times listed on the schedule are Eastern Standard Time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

8:00 am - 8:15 am
Wellness Wake Up!

Join conference wellness guru Beth Bielat for this morning refresher.


8:15 am - 8:30 am
Call to Action!

Pour yourself a cup of coffee. Then join the conference hosts as they set up the goals for today and how the sessions will make a difference in the lives of your employees and your neighboring communities.

8:30 am - 9:30 am
KEYNOTE | Triple Vision

How expanding your perspective can heal you, us, and the world!

What’s it all about? As COVID-19 ravages our world and the institutions, norms, and rules that once upheld the fabric of our society dissolve, each of us are grappling with a rapid pace and amount of change. It’s the right time for a different kind of medicine. Neha Sangwan, MD is an internal medicine physician who not only helps us heal physically and mentally, but she has also ventured where very few in the medical community are willing to go—into our hearts and souls. She views each interpersonal exchange as a sacred opportunity to teach powerful communication tools and expand our perspectives in order to catalyze healing on a deeper level.

Her acclaimed book, TalkRx: 5 Steps to Honest Conversations that Create Connections, Health, and Happiness, caught our attention. Now, Doctor Neha (as we affectionately call her), issues a collective call to action. It’s time to shift our perspectives and decision-making to triple vision— Me-We-World. This expanded perspective will open the door to greater opportunities for health, innovation, and collaboration! Join this conversation to learn how to use this disruptive COVID energy as a catalyst for positive transformation in your life and in the world.

This triple vision poses three great questions for each of us to ponder:
1) Who am I? What do I value most?
2) How can I collaborate with others?
3) How can my passions and gifts meet a need of the world?

Why you’ll want to participate in this session.

  • As a person tasked to bring about change, enhance your communication skills and inquisitiveness as an HR leader.
  • Align your personal wellbeing, your work in HR, and the bigger world forces to have maximum impact on efficiency and efficacy.
  • Discover the power of great questions in assisting leaders and their teams to build trust, shift into personal accountability, and become innovative while facing seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Approved for SHRM Credit and HRCI General (HR) Credit.

Program Faculty: Neha Sangwan, M.D.

9:45 am - 10:45 am
MEGASESSION | Workplace Words

The office language lawyers love and loathe.

What’s it all about? It doesn’t take much for a word to be misinterpreted, triggering a problem where none existed. In the context of remote work in universally unsettled times, those problems are becoming more frequent and troublesome. Words misunderstood may trigger litigation. And, words correctly understood may be the measure of strong workplace culture. This is true of the spoken word where visual and verbal cues are present. It is equally true in emails and other communications, where those clues may be less obvious. In a series of engaging morning questions and exercises, Deb Weiss Ford from the Jackson Lewis law firm, will deal with those triggers from a variety of angles. What words indicate unconscious biases awash at work? What words, patterns, and behaviors should be on the HR horizon for preventive measures and training? And, how does the use of a consistent language enhance workplace culture? David Ciullo from Career Management Associates hosts this session.

Why you’ll want to participate in this session.

  • Discuss a range of subtle behaviors and words indicated unconscious biases, and consider how they trigger problems for hiring, retention, performance management, and legal compliance.
  • Consider how word usage suggests different concerns across the generations, across the male/female dynamic in leadership, and across other cultural and political divides.
  • Gain a better understanding of how our personal assumptions about people, cultures, and differences don’t necessarily lead to the smartest HR and business decisions. Then learn what you can do to mitigate those assumptions.

Approved for SHRM Credit and HRCI General (HR) Credit.

Program Faculty: David Ciullo, Debra Weiss Ford

9:45 am - 10:45 am
FORUM | Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Policing

How effective strategy enhances tactical energy.

What’s it all about? Considerable energy has been and will continue to be devoted to workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion. A problem presents. We kick into action. Usually with well-intentioned tactics showing varying degrees of effectiveness, but often without long-term impact. Nowhere is this more on the table today than in community policing. Police departments across the country are at the center of expectations for the diversity of their employees and their approach to the public. We’re all searching for a richer strategy getting to the root of these issues, and we’ve invited three voices to share the challenges of policing and perhaps a new approach to the human resources of their workplaces. We’ll search for their thoughts on how to infuse strategy with the totality of the employment experience. We are pleased to welcome to this discussion: Mark Conrad, a 24-year police veteran, current CEO of WesCon, Senior Administrator and Former Chairman of Massachusetts Parole Board, and Communications for the Deval Patrick Administration. And our friend and moderator, Ed Hurley-Wales, a diversity and inclusion consultant from Concord, Massachusetts.

Why you’ll want to participate in this session.

  • Discover why the emphasis on tactics on the diversity, equity, and inclusion front has not always produced the strategic, long-term results required in policing and other organizations.
  • Develop your critical thinking of racism, sexism, ageism, and homophobia by considering the psychology and sociology that comes into play.
  • Leave this session with a more holistic approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion that considers the entirety of the employment process, the buy-in required of organizational leaders, and ways to measure the results of initiatives to ensure their sustainability.

Approved for SHRM Credit and HRCI Business Credit.

Program Faculty: Ed Hurley-Wales, Mark A. Conrad

11:00 am - 12:00 pm
On the Road to Atlanta

Refreshing HR’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

What’s it all about? Let’s look at entrepreneurship from a different angle. Not Silicon Valley high tech. Not venture capital flowing from Wall Street houses. Rather, from the nitty gritty perspective of bringing an idea to fruition in an enterprise determined to do good. Join us as we visit metro-Atlanta to explore a very human business – the creation of Georgia Developmental Services, Inc. – clinics providing services to children with autism, with its founder Dr. Shelley Margow and Dara Brenner, VP HCM Product Management for the Ultimate Kronos Group.

Why you’ll want to participate in this session.

  • Witness the marriage of passion and business skills when building an organization serving the community.
  • Discover that a central component of success is much like our HR leadership roles – creating strategy in the search for and alignment of talent – talent that connects to organization mission and purpose.
  • Discuss the creativity required of organizational and HR leadership in times of Covid and social upheaval.

Approved for SHRM Credit and HRCI Business Credit.

Program Faculty: Dara Brenner, Shelley Margow

12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
EXPO and Networking Break

Take this time to visit the virtual bookstore and EXPO booths, recharge, and check emails.

12:15 pm - 12:45 pm
Live Lunch Roundtable Sessions

BerryDunn will host a talk about empowering your employees to take control of their retirement future. Presented by Kathy Reilley and Larry Hart.

Downs Rachlin Martin will host a talk about doubling down on DEI and overcoming bias: tips, tools, & training. Presented by Beth Rattigan and John Maitland.

Get Your Edge will host a talk about conversational intelligence. Presented by Ted Gorski.

JobsInTheUS will host a talk about the impact COVID-19 has had on recruiting and staffing teams. Presented by Saïd Eastman.

1:30 pm - 2:30 pm
KEYNOTE | The New Norms of Work

Is there a premium for weirdness?

What’s it all about? It’s rather unlikely we are returning to the familiar office workplace anytime soon. That’s why we invited Olga Khazan to join us, as she will explore the history of social norms and why some people and organizations follow them more strictly than others. Olga is an award-winning staff writer for The Atlantic and the author of the recently published book “Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World.” Conformity is something most cultures crave in one form or another. We want to fit in, or at least try to not stand out and seem “weird”. The impact on people who are “different” and don’t fit the mold is troubling, and the lost opportunities are huge. In this engaging conversation, Olga will talk about the new norms of work: what norms are, how they develop, and why we like to follow them. Then she’ll explain how communication and workplace behaviors are changing swiftly in the remote-work COVID era.

Why you’ll want to participate in this session.

  • Let’s imagine the changing structure of the workplace and the incredible premium brought by those who advocate for something different.
  • The harbingers of this new way of work have been in plain sight for years – technology, remote work, re-configuration of the workday, how we dress and present, and the rethinking of communication and performance. We’ll consider why it took a pandemic to bring leadership elites on board.
  • Then, we’ll have some fun exploring the business buzzwords intended to be the shorthand language of the office, but which often tell us very little. Thinking outside the box or living on the cutting edge don’t cut it anymore. Let’s explore a deeper way to express the business and personal values you bring to your organization.

Approved for SHRM Credit and HRCI Business Credit.

Program Faculty: Olga Khazan

2:45 pm - 3:45 pm
On the Road to the West Coast and Across the Pond

Research-driven decisions in trying times.

What’s it all about? How does HR aspire to make work more creative, impactful, and a safer harbor in this existential moment? What information sources are a necessary precursor? Specifically, how does HR employ science and research to understand people and organizations better? And, how do human resource professionals translate data and research into impactful strategy and decision-making? We’ve invited Neela Rajendra, Executive Director of SODI (Science of Diversity & Inclusion Initiative) and Manish Goel, CEO of TrustSphere to engage us in conversation about closing the gap between research and practice on the DEI and organizational development fronts. The times demand of our profession a fuller understanding of how to blend traditional HR functions with the science of organizational development, and this session will help us along this path.

Why you’ll want to participate in this session.

  • Discuss how to become a strategic HR business partner by harnessing research and data and translating that information into action.
  • Gain a better understanding of how studying the social sciences – including psychology and economics – helps us affect social change, enrich our people, and enhance our values.
  • Build on your leadership skills by creating a coalition of creative thinkers who can take this knowledge and use it to impact change at the individual and organizational levels. In the process, take your journey of moving from transactional to influential to the next level.

Approved for SHRM Credit and HRCI Business Credit.

Program Faculty: Manish Goel, Neela Rajendra

5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
ENCORE: "Uncharted" Territory

What’s it all about? In a smashing return from across the pond,” Margaret Heffernan joins us with a provocative look at the future based on her just-released book  Uncharted. Margaret challenges us to break our addiction to prediction, employing the counterintuitive thinking demonstrated in her other awardwinning books and TedTalks (that now measure more than 11,000,000 views). There’s much at stake in HR and other institutions, and she will help us grasp the level of complexity we face, offering human solutions to that complexity. In the process, she calls into question our assumptions about efficiency, warning that too much efficiency undermines our ability to adapt and respond. And, that for all its value, technology should never be allowed to asset strip our collaborative and decision-making processes. History is her final target. The myriad ways we need to build for the long-term often go unattended as we overweight the short-term predicted future and lessons from the past. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but for all its chaos and challenges, no one argues that it isn’t one of the great cities of the world.

Why you’ll want to participate in this session.

  • Re-visit the business and human resource platforms that overvalue efficiency at the expense of long-term, organizational stability and creative energy.
  • Understand the limits of predictability and technology, and how you can enhance a workplace culture of experimentation and curiosity as an HR and business problem solver.
  • Build alliances and relationships within and outside your organization as an antidote to algorithmic thinking, and understand how this business and personal broker role can be the sources for overcoming the limitations of predictability, efficiency, and technology.

Approved for SHRM Credit and HRCI Business Credit.

Program Faculty: Margaret Heffernan
Wednesday, October 21, 2020 Thursday, October 22, 2020 Wednesday, October 28, 2020