In 1982 a small group of six HR professionals met in a restaurant on Route 73 to network and discuss items of mutual concern. The meeting was conducted in the restaurant in the midst of other diners and a mariachi band. In spite of the setting, the participants felt the meeting was beneficial to all. It was agreed that they should meet on an ongoing basis, and try to encourage more HR professionals to attend. The group was formed with the name of the Tri-State Personnel Association, and applied for membership with the American Society for Personnel Administration (ASPA). It was accepted for membership by ASPA as Chapter 413. Rob Harris was elected the first president in 1982 and was followed by Marian Wissman in 1984 and Penny Wise in 1986. In 1987 Tri-State sponsored its first HR Conference for the local HR community.
Bob Witkoski was elected president in 1988, and the first revision of the bylaws was completed with a number of new standing committees added. As a professional association, Tri-State operates in line with its established bylaws that are regularly reviewed and updated as the organization changes and evolves. The leadership team that governs Tri-State is composed of a President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary. There are also two at large Board positions and a Board position filled by the immediate past-president. All individuals in those positions (with the exception of the immediate past-president) are elected by the membership and serve a one-year term. No person can serve more than two consecutive terms in the same office or Board position.
In April 1989 membership broke the 100 mark with 104 members on record. By June of the following year membership had reached 150. During this time ASPA changed its name to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and a number of Tri-State members were in attendance at the National Conference in Boston in June 1989 when the change was announced.
Tri-State began publication of its newsletter, The Tri-Stater, and mailed copies to both its members and non-members in the area. Mailings of the Tri-Stater, conference announcements, and other communications became volunteer events that collectively became known as the “Lick and Stick” parties. Burgers and beer usually followed the “Lick and Stick” parties. Tri-State received its first formal recognition from SHRM as it was awarded an annual Merit Award. Tri-State received either Merit or Superior Merit recognition from SHRM every year from 1989 though 2009 (until the award recognition program was changed).
Jim Moran was elected president in 1990 and Tri-State received its first Superior Merit Award from SHRM. Membership continued to grow, and the 5th annual Tri-State HR Conference was held in 1991. During this time Mike Losey was selected as President of SHRM and Tri-State had the honor of being the first chapter that Mike spoke to as President of SHRM. When Mike retired in 2000 Tri-State was one of the last chapters he addressed before his retirement.
Dan Sell became president in 1992. In 1993 the next major revision of the bylaws was completed. One of major changes was the name change to the Tri-State Human Resource Management Association. Another change was to allow past presidents to serve in a non-voting capacity on the Board of Directors to provide continuity and as a resource to the officers and the Board. The first strategic plan was developed in 1993. As a part of that plan Tri-State’s Vision and Mission Statement were developed, and have remained in place since then with only minor modifications.
Lauri Plante became president in 1994, and was faced with finding a new home for Tri-State after ten years of monthly meetings at the Cherry Hill Hyatt when the hotel unexpectedly closed its doors. Tri-State’s new home was now at the Radisson in Mt. Laurel. Members of Tri-State’s leadership team traveled to Washington, D.C. for a meeting with Representative Rob Andrews to discuss a number of legislative issues and concerns. Tri-State had now grown to the point where it needed to hire its first administrator.
Dorothy Stubblebine began teaching the PHR/SPHR preparation class through Rowan University in 1995, beginning a long-term relationship with Tri-State providing the instructors for the program. Dan Sell and Linda Parthemer joined Dorothy in 1996 with the three dividing up the sessions. The program was offered twice a year, and eventually was expanded to its current schedule at two different locations. This increased the need for additional instructors with Christine Schaefer, Bob Witkoski, Jack Nestor, Laraine Knauss, and Monica McClintock serving in that role.
Jackie Lazarro became president in 1996 as the association continued to grow and progress. The Tri-State HR Conference celebrated its tenth anniversary in 1996.
In 1997 Linda Parthemer became president. Tri-State operates its business year from September to September, and it was felt a planning session before the beginning of the new business year would be beneficial. As a result, the first annual summer leadership conference was held at Linda’s house to plan and discuss the upcoming business year.
Wayne Tarken became president in 1999 and Tri-State sponsored its first technology symposium in partnership with the Saratoga Institute. More than 200 people attended the event to hear futurist Roger Herman. In 2001 the Delaware Valley HR Person of the Year award program was begun with Tri-State as one of the local sponsoring SHRM chapters. Since then, Tri-State members Dorothy Stubblebine, Dan Sell, Diane Wagner, Carol Asselta, Theresa McGlinchey, Monica McClintock, Margie McLaughlin, Laraine Knauss, Judy Baker, John Baldino, Anneliese McMenamin, Donna Jack, Doug Allen, Debbie Deissroth, Tara Edmundson, Rume Joy Azikiwe, and Sue Learn have been recognized as HR Person of the Year. Jeff Backal, Merrick Rosenberg, Lou Lessig, BJ Anderson, and John Baldino have been recognized as HR Consultant of the Year, and Aaron Boucher was recognized as HR Rising Star. In 2006, John Knoop was recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2014 Dorothy Stubblebine, was recognized for the same Lifetime Recognition.
Jack Nestor was elected president in 2001 and successfully navigated a number of organizational and financial challenges to help Tri-State successfully position itself for future growth into the 21st Century. In 2002 SHRM’s National Conference was held in Philadelphia and Tri-State provided a number of volunteers. Past president Wayne Tarken was chairman of the host committee and Lauri Plante was in charge of the volunteers. Joe Giamboi was SHRM co-chair for the conference. All who participated as volunteers have been permanently conditioned to always use multiple fingers when pointing at something to give directions. Also during Jack’s presidency, Tri-State hired P.D. Jones and Associates as its administrator. Tri-State’s HR Conference celebrated its fifteenth anniversary in 2001.
One of the mission statements for Tri-State involves giving back to the communities where its members live and work. The HR 101 Program for
Non-Profits was developed by Theresa McGlinchey in 2001 and is still being presented each year since then. This program provides a one-half day seminar on related HR topics for those members of the local non-profit community who have human resource responsibility in their organizations. The program has been presented for free or for a very nominal fee. Members of Tri-State have volunteered their time as presenters for the program. Tri-State sponsored its first annual golf outing with the proceeds going to the SHRM Foundation. A local charity is identified prior to the December meeting, and Tri-State members at the December meeting have provided donations of items needed by the charities and/or cash contributions.
Over the years Tri-State members have provided hundreds of items and thousands of dollars to various charitable organizations.
In 2003 Monica McClintock was elected president, and one of her stated accomplishments was the creation of the Tri-State Comedy Troupe, a collection of Tri-State members who took a different and creative look at the HR profession. In April 2004 members of Tri-State’s leadership team coordinated a trip to Washington, D.C. along with members of the HR Association of South Jersey to meet with each group’s representatives. Tri-State members enjoyed the trip to Capitol Hill and met with Representative Rob Andrews (a high school classmate of Monica’s) to discuss a number of issues and to present him with an honorary Tri-State membership. The bylaws were updated, and Tri-State instituted one membership fee for all members.
Theresa McGlinchey was elected president in 2005. During her presidency Tri-State sponsored a teacher as part of the South Jersey Chamber of Commerce Summer Institute, as another way in which Tri-State gives back to the local community. The HRCI study group was formed to provide members with the opportunity to network and work together to prepare for the PHR / SPHR certification test. In 2006 Tri-State’s HR Conference celebrated its twentieth anniversary at the Enterprise Center in Mt. Laurel. Membership recognition was increased in line with SHRM’s “Advancing the Profession and Serving the Professional” philosophy.
Jerry Dropcho became president in 2007 and Tri-State’s membership exceeded 400 for the first time. Monthly meetings moved to a new home at the Marriott in Mt. Laurel, and in 2008 the annual conference moved to the Mansion in Voorhees. Formal budgeting and the use of the balanced scorecard were instituted as management tools to help ensure a clear focus on achieving Tri-State’s mission and vision. The bylaws received another update as three non-voting Board members were added to include the membership chair, the programs chair, and the conference chair. In addition, two new committees (the Finance Committee and the Investment Committee) were established to provide for additional financial oversight and governance for the organization.
In 2008 Tri-State was recognized by SHRM with its prestigious Pinnacle Award for its annual HR 101 Program for Non-Profits. The Pinnacle Award is presented by SHRM to less than ten chapters each year for initiatives and programs that go above and beyond.
In 2009 Laraine Knauss was elected president. The Tri-State website was reconstructed with significant upgrades made to provide the membership with more information and functionality. In 2010 Past President Monica McClintock was a member of SHRM’s HR Executive Exchange trip to India. Tri-State’s annual conference celebrated its 25th anniversary, and continues to be one of the largest HR events in South Jersey. The monthly meetings and annual conference both moved to the Westin in Mt. Laurel in 2011. Monica also took on the responsibility of Volunteer Placement Coordinator, a new position approved by the Board to provide one central point of contact for members interested in volunteer roles. This “one-stop shopping” approach has been successful in allowing members to be matched with their areas of interest on Tri-State’s various committees.
In 2011 Joe Giamboi was elected president. Judy Baker and Lauri Plante helped establish the Senior HR Forum for Tri-State members who are in senior and strategic roles in their respective organizations. At a quarterly breakfast meeting the group can share thoughts, concerns, and best practices with their peers. As a means of engaging and recruiting potential members, the Membership Committee began sponsoring two semi-annual member mixer networking events for people in the local HR community who are not currently Tri-State members. These events have been well attended with a number of new members joining Tri-State as a result. In 2013 the annual conference broke all previous records for attendance, sponsors, and exhibitors. Monthly dinner meetings now consistently draw well in excess of 100 people with high marks given by the attendees for the quality of the programs presented. Tri-State was awarded SHRM’s Silver Excel Award for 2011 and Gold Excel Award for 2012.
In 2013 Margie McLaughlin was elected President. To reflect the changing demographics in both Tri-State and the HR profession a Young Professionals Committee (later changed to Emerging Professionals) was established to provide additional resources to those people new to the HR profession. Also the Career Management Committee began to address all phases of career management, and not just with career transition. As a part of that change a formal mentoring program was established to pair senior professionals with members who are new to their careers. To meet specific needs of the memberships half-day seminars were conducted on benefits issues, the New Jersey Safe Act, and legal issues. In 2015 Rowan changed its certification preparation program to support SHRM’s new CP and SCP certifications with Laraine Knauss, Monica McClintock, Dan Sell, and Bob Witkoski serving as instructors. Tri-State was recognized by SHRM with Platinum Excel Award for 2014 as well as its Gold Excel Award for 2013 and 2014.
Tri-State has played a major role in SHRM’s Garden State Council, the umbrella organization for all eleven SHRM chapters in New Jersey. Rob Harris, Bob Witkoski, Dorothy Stubblebine, Jim Moran, Jerry Dropcho, Laraine Knauss, and Lou Lessig all became State Directors. Joe Giamboi has also served as Pennsylvania State Director and Rob Harris went on to become SHRM’s Area I Vice President. Other past presidents and members of the leadership team have continued to be active on the Garden State Council as well.
In 2015 Lou Lessig was elected President. In 2016 Tri-State celebrated the 30th year anniversary of its annual conference and the 15th anniversary of its HR Toolkit for Non-Profits. In November, Tri-State had a community service event on a Saturday morning where Tri-State members and their families built bicycles for kids who never had a bicycle before. Tri-State member Jeff Backal and a group of people from his company, Team Builders Plus, donated their time and ran this as a team-building program. After building the bikes, the group was asked to close their eyes and imagine the look on the kids faces when they saw their new bikes. Then they were told to open their eyes and see for themselves. At that time the kids all came into the room to see the bikes and pick one out. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. In 2017 Tri-State sponsored its first webinar in place of its February dinner meeting. This continued an emphasis on the use of technology such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Linked In to communicate and interact with the membership. Tri-State was recognized by SHRM with its Silver Excel Award for 2015 and 2016.
In 2017 John Baldino was elected President. Tri-State went through a major rebranding with a change to the chapter logo as well as a significant upgrading of the website with more functionality being added. Tri-State members came out on a Saturday morning in 2018 to prepare 350 literacy kits for the United Way. In the Spring of 2019 Tri-State held an active shooter program as violence in the workplace issues became more numerous. Tri-Sate was recognized by the SHRM Foundation with its Chapter Champion Award for 2016 and 2017.
In 2019 Karen Roberts was elected President. Within six months of Karen taking office as Tri-State’s President, the world was having to deal with the COVID pandemic and all the disruption that it caused. Tri-State had to adapt quickly and go from in person meetings, programs, and events to a virtual world. In order to continue to meet the needs of its members for information and professional development, Tri-State sponsored various virtual webinars and monthly meetings to replace onsite programs. Different committees such as Career Management and Emerging Professionals also began holding virtual events as well. In May of 2020 Tri-State sponsored its first virtual annual conference. The program was a sold-out event with 90 attendees. In the Spring of 2021, Tri-State held a virtual event for people who might have an interest in finding out more about volunteer leadership roles in the chapter. Several workshops were held with members of the Succession Planning Committee participating to answer questions and provide information. Tri-State was recognized with its Platinum Excel Award for 2020 and was also recognized in 2020 as a SHRM Learning System Champion.
In 2021 Debbie Deissroth was elected President. Tri-State continues to be a vibrant and successful professional organization that embraces its rich history and accomplishments with a focus on the ever-changing future.
What Our Members Have To Say:
“With only joining the group a few months ago, I have felt nothing but welcome at the meetings and events I have been to. I am glad I made the right move to join Tri-State HRMA.”
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Major Account Specialist, Primepoint LLC, Member since 2003
“Little did I know that in addition to forming partnerships and strong networks, I would also develop friendships lasting me a lifetime. I love Tri- State HRMA because it is the only group that has figured out how to grow and learn together professionally, while having fun at the same time. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people to be a part of and grow with.”
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SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Director, Human Resources, The Michaels Organization, Member since 1985
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