Strategic HR at Mount Washington: Oct 25-27, 2020 – Bretton Woods, NH

The following information is from the completed 2019 event. Please check back in the spring for details on next year. 


Sunday, October 27


8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Sunday Registration Opens

Registration remains open throughout the day. With appreciation to Bernstein Shur, registration sponsor, CGI Benefits for providing the Retreat bags, Acadia Benefits for providing the Retreat guides, and Ultimate Software for providing the Retreat name badges.

Visit the Conservatory. Enjoy complimentary specialty coffees by the baristas from Bard Coffee of Portland, Maine courtesy of Paylocity. Recharge your devices at the neighboring Mobile Hub hosted by Jackson Lewis. Recharge your body in a massage chair hosted by Engage Wellness Solutions. Browse titles at the pop-up Retreat Bookstore sponsored by Northeast Delta Dental. And, move about the property with complimentary shuttle service sponsored by Lebel & Harriman, LLP.


8:30 am - 10:15 am
Brunch & Big Ideas

The Art of Contingency Planning: HR in the Driver’s Seat

Beth Rattigan, Downs Rachlin Martin

John Maitland, Downs Rachlin Martin

What’s it all about? The potential loss of key personnel is an HR occupational hazard. It could be a member of senior leadership hinting about leaving the organization or the more immediate disruptions coming from compliance with leave laws or absenteeism. HR leaders who become strategic contingency planners in these arenas bring added value to their companies. Our session hosts – Beth Rattigan and John Maitland from Downs Rachlin Martin – will help you rethink your approach to succession planning and managing absences due to leave or other reasons. They will call on the collective wisdom of the audience and explore how HR can foresee opportunities rather than just adjudicate disruptions from the movement of personnel. The discussions will explore contingency planning from two angles: 1) enhancing your role in leadership succession; and 2) integrating developing trends on the PTO front.

Why you’ll want to participate in this session.

  • Learn about the gap in many organizations caused by senior leaders ignoring their own transitions and their fears of developing successors.
  • Discover shared successes from HR leaders who have made strong business cases for succession planning initiatives.
  • Understand the societal and political forces at work on the PTO front – laws impacting paid family leave and mandating paid sick time – and how you can add value with contingency planning that measures and adapts to these laws.
  • Examine what you can do to transform your workplace philosophy and dexterity in relation to these timely issues and better inform your talent planning at all levels of the organization.

Pre-registration is required for this session.

Approved for: SHRM Credit- 1.75 PDCs; and HRCI Credit- 1.75 Business Credits.

Program Faculty: Beth Rattigan, John Maitland

12:50 pm - 1:00 pm
The Opening Bell

Nancy Persson, Leadership Growth Solutions

Nancy Persson, Principal of Leadership Growth Solutions and Treasurer of the NEHRA Board of Directors, joins us for the grand opening of this year’s edition of Strategic HR at Mt. Washington. Nancy will moderate the three afternoon plenary sessions and the chats that ensue. In the process, she will set up the premise for this afternoon’s Big Idea conversations – that HR’s better angels are when we are the igniters of change rather than gatekeepers for the status quo.




Program Faculty: Nancy Persson

1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
KEYNOTE: Adaptive Space

The Path to HR Agility

Michael Arena

What’s it all about? The Retreat opens with a provocative look at the gap between great ideas and execution, and how HR dances in this space. Michael Arena is the author of the award-winning book “Adaptive Space: How GM and Other Companies are Positively Disrupting Themselves and Transforming into Agile Organizations.” He will focus on the imperative for agility in corporate leadership, particularly in the Human Resources realm. HR can help ideas flourish and become reality in a variety of ways – by thinking differently and analytically, by fostering network building through social capital, and by understanding how to move fast. The alternative is for HR to be perceived, correctly or not, as stifling creativity and change. The desired role for HR is obvious; getting there is a whole other matter. And, that’s one reason you’ll want to be in your seat for the opening of this year’s conference.

Why you’ll want to participate in this session.

  • Learn how HR can leverage social capital as the key factor in network building and how this helps position HR as a valued player in breaking down tired, organizational structures.
  • Discover the strategic imperative of scaling organizational agility by understanding the worth of cohesive subgroups and by knowing the key players who can bridge one cluster of talent to another.
  • Find your role as broker, connector, energizer, and challenger. In the process, become a leader in your organization for operationalizing entrepreneurship flowing among teams, across departments, and throughout the company.

Approved for: SHRM Credit- 1.0 PDC; and HRCI Credit- 1.0 Business Credit.

Program Faculty: Michael Arena

2:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Meet the Author and Book Signing

Michael Arena: Adaptive Space
(Available for purchase at the Retreat Bookstore)

2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
PLENARY: Big Idea Sunday

Two Stories of Agility in Action

Donna Sinnery, Teknor Apex

Lisa Kelly-Croswell, Boston Medical Center

What’s it all about?  Next, we turn to two dynamic HR leaders who will share stories on how corporate agility meets reality. Story one involves the transition of a family-owned enterprise into a global player. Story two connects business efficiencies to the empathic leanings of a non-profit organization. Donna Sinnery, CHRO of Teknor Apex Company, brings the first story to life, in part by describing her role as advisor, business partner, and executive coach. Lisa Kelly-Croswell, CHRO of Boston Medical Center, takes the second story to the stage, where she demonstrates the mixing of business practices from the for-profit arena with the mission and vision of a non-profit. Our moderator, Nancy Persson, from Leadership Growth Solutions, wraps up this session in fireside chat style, with the goal of eliciting strategic direction and practical tips that help you become a more agile HR leader.

Why you’ll want to participate in this session.

  • Discover HR’s strategic role in positioning business platforms when an organization is in growth mode, in this case from the vantage point of a company moving from family-owned local to international in scale.
  • Discern how a non-profit hospital integrates strong HR business practices with its mission and values, with Boston Medical Center’s new Grayken Center and their work on population health and workforce development as touchpoints.
  • Learn how to build your agility skill set and demonstrate its business values to your organization’s leadership team.

Approved for: SHRM Credit- 1.0 PDC; and HRCI Credit- 1.0 Business Credit.

Program Faculty: Donna Sinnery, Lisa Kelly-Croswell, Nancy Persson

4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
KEYNOTE: Agile Leadership

A Personal Journey, A Process, A Necessity.

Emily Phillips, R.W. Baird

What’s it all about?  “Unconventional employees” may raise eyebrows, but great leaders know how to source, nurture, and build organizational tolerance for these individuals. And a leader who can master this process is well on the way to mastering the keys to agility. Emily Phillips joins Big Idea Sunday to ask, “Why do we claim to hire for talent rather than specific skills, but so often default to the skill sets?” She will share her story of three diverse careers in different industries as a jumping off point for our agility discussion. In the process, you will discover a construct that will help you prepare for disruption, and help you move from Point A to Point B when there isn’t an easily recognizable route.

Why you’ll want to participate in this session.

  • Discover a three-step model for building business agility into your individual and workplace ecosystems and become a stronger leader in the process.
  • The first step you will explore is an iterative process, which takes you from problem definition to hypothesis and testing, to architecting a solution, to input from your sources, and on to reflection and refinement.
  • The second component of this model – the building of your internal and external tribe of experts – is a must, because the data from these sources is critical to strategic thinking and planning.
  • The final piece of this approach involves balancing risk aversion in the corporate setting vs. the business opportunities that emerge from flexibility and nuance.
  • Learn how to communicate this new structure of agile leadership to your C-suite and help move them from the limitations of “predict and plan” to a richer, more rewarding way of doing business, and discover how to measure and distill the results of this process.

Approved for: SHRM Credit- 1.0 PDC; and HRCI Credit- 1.0 Business Credit.

Program Faculty: Emily Phillips

5:00 pm - 6:30 pm
Welcoming Reception & Peruse the HR Marketplace

Your first opportunity to build friendships for this Retreat and beyond. Mingle with the faculty, our sponsors, and your peers from across the six New England states. Business Partners are available to share information on their products, services, and HR issues of the day.


6:30 pm - 11:00 pm
Dinner & Entertainment

A sumptuous dinner buffet is included with your registration. Then follow us to The Cave at 9:00 p.m. for music and dancing with DJ Kevin Duran.
Sunday’s Dinner and Entertainment hosted by our friends at Hays Companies of New England.  


Saturday, October 26 Sunday, October 27 Monday, October 28 Tuesday, October 29