As the department concerned with the needs and benefits of a company’s employees, human resources is a crucial part of any organization, big or small, but until now little attention has been paid to it in JCC professional development circles. This is set to change on June 12-13, when JCC Association will be taking an unprecedented step by hosting its first ever human resources professional conference. Taking place at JCC Association’s New York City offices and at UJA Federation, the conference gives an opportunity for HR professionals to come together, network, learn new skills from special speakers and from one another, while giving JCCs a chance to assure the success and quality of their HR departments across the board.
The conference is divided into two sessions: the first day is strictly for JCC professionals and includes discussions and presentations on how company health insurance is affected by the Affordable Care Act, as well as on strategies to interview and train new employees. The second day will be a joint session with AWP and UJA, focusing on advancing women professionals in the Jewish communal world. This second day includes discussions of achieving a balance between career advancement and family life, a significant conflict in the lives of many women professionals. The conference is being generously subsidized by JCC Association and UJA, with attendees only being charged the cost of food.
Joy Brand-Richardson, associate vice-president/director of training and professional leadership, hopes that the conference will equip HR staff to recognize talented employees who can replace retiring baby boomer professionals. The process of finding capable individuals to fill these positions, referred to as talent management, is a topic of discussion on the second day of the conference. “[Human resources is] the front line to knowing who all the staff is,” Brand-Richardson explains. “If we can help determine who our future leaders are, we can help train them…[and] help staff in JCCs grow into these positions.”
Approximately 110 individuals work in HR in continental JCCs, and 24 are attending the full conference. Although not all HR professionals in local JCCs are able to attend, the organization and planning of this conference signals an increased focus on the significant role HR plays, particularly as JCCs continue to grow, hire, and retain more employees. Tory Holland, coordinator for professional and lay leadership training programs, says she is “glad we are doing it. HR is a growing need for JCCs, and until now we haven’t been able to bring [HR staff] to professional conferences.”