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HR professional lauded for award-winning efforts

Phil Castle, The Business Times


Donna Smith, a human resource analyst with the City of Grand Junction, received the Professional of the Year award from the Western Colorado Human Resource Association. (Photo courtesy Shelly Williams)

Donna Smith always looks for ways to build relationships and improve people’s lives, whether it’s working with other organizations to recruit employees or working with individuals to help them land a job.

It’s an ongoing effort that’s earned Smith recognition as the Western Colorado Human Resource Association Professional of the Year for 2012.

Smith, an HR analyst with the City of Grand Junction, was among five finalists for the award bestowed by the WCHRA. A Grand Junction-based chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management, WCHRA hosts monthly meetings and educational events as well as offers a network for HR professionals in the region.

The other award finalists were: Cindy Farnsworth of Colorado Mesa University, Trace Hillman of S.M. Stoller, Tonya Moore of Hilltop Community Resources and Connie Schulthies of Home Loan & Investment Co. A panel of judges evaluated nominees on the basis of their performances in the HR field, their efforts at promoting the HR profession and their contributions to the community.

Smith has worked for the city since 2007, but has worked in the HR profession for 18 years. She holds certification as a Professional in Human Resources. She has belonged to the WCHRA for 12 years and has served as a board member and diversity director for the group.

Smith said her position with the city involves a range of duties, including administering recruitment efforts and providing feedback to job applicants.

Laura Conant, HR supervisor at the city, said Smith is always looking for ways to improve hiring processes. Smith also  is skilled at handling difficult situations with a sense of empathy, such as working with employees facing layoffs. “It takes a real professional to do that,” Conant said.

Smith works with Mesa County School District 51 in arranging internships for students interested in the school-to-career program. She places students with mentors on the city staff involved with careers that interest the students.

Smith also serves on the board of directors for Karis, an organization that helps the homeless become self-sufficient. In addition, Smith volunteers at The House, a shelter for homeless teen-agers. Among other things, she helps teens find jobs by reviewing resumes and practicing for interviews.

Smith said nearly every person brings potential value to a job, it’s just a matter of making the right matches.

One role of HR professionals, she said, is to help employees and employers make those matches. Another role is to provide information and expertise to managers in improving operations. “I think we’re advocates. I think we’re partners,” she said.

Phil Castle is editor of the Grand Valley Business Times, a twice-monthly business journal published in Grand Junction. Castle brings to his duties nearly 30 years of experience in editorial management positions with Western Colorado newspapers. In addition, his free-lance work has appeared in a variety of publications, including the Washington Post. He holds a bachelor's degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University.
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