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The Garden State Council-SHRM, comprised entirely of volunteers, is a professional organization supporting the Human Resources profession and the 11 New Jersey SHRM chapters. Its rich history laid the foundation for its evolution into an influential voice of the Human Resources profession in New Jersey.


The SHRM state council concept was born, just around the time that the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) changed its name from the American Society for Personnel Administrators (ASPA). The original name of the council was the New Jersey State Council of the Society for Human Resource Management.

1987 - 1989

Rob Harris became the first State Council Director. It was a small group at that time, eight Chapter Presidents and the State Council Director and Treasurer. They met periodically at the Towne House Motel right off exit 8 of the NJ Turnpike...because Rob worked at NL Industries, right up the road.

1990 - 1991

Linda Paulhamus was the second State Director. SHRM was becoming more active as a professional association, but there still wasn't too much happening at the state level. So council positions were expanded to include District Directors, giving it three more people at the table (a Northern NJ District Director, a Southern NJ District Director and an "At-Large" District Director to represent SHRM members who are not also a member of a chapter)

1992 - 1993

Bob Witkoski became the third State Director. Bob began working with Jim Polen, a SHRM Area Director, and created plans for expanding the State Council. Bob created the position of State Council Alternate (SCA) and asked each Chapter to designate an SCA to attend all State Council meetings with their Chapter President. It almost doubled the number of people who attended State Council meetings. Still, the Council operated on a shoestring budget and each chapter was asked to donate $200 for the year just to afford a place to hold a meeting.

Bob eventually added a few committees like the PR Committee, and the Legislative Committee and they decided to hold their first State Conference in October of 1992. Gerry Crispin agreed to be the Conference Chair. The conference planning committee consisted of two people (Bob and Gerry) and, although there was a treasury of only $500, Gerry was committed to spending $10,000 to make the conference a resounding success. A success it was, and it's grown every year since then.

1994 - 1996

By this time, the Council began to exert an influence for the Chapters on the state level, and it introduced committees to mirror those in the Chapters so that the Council could better support their initiatives. Meeting attendance grew to well over 20 people, and Jim Moran, Director, had to start shopping for a larger place to hold the meetings.

1997 - 2006

In 1997, the council was renamed the Garden State Council • SHRM and was incorporated as an organization of "human resource and personnel professionals providing education to its members in the field of human resources".

Up to this point, the HR profession focused on topics such as equal pay for women, family leave, FLSA regulations, EEOC/EEO, sexual harassment and flexible benefits. To a large degree these same issues remain, but the profession has since evolved to add strategic initiatives to its offerings. All of the State Council Directors during this time, Patricia Reeves, Don Doele, Dorothy Stubblebine, and Bette Francis, each made successive contributions that have brought the Council to where it is today, focusing on SHRM's “Serve the Professional” (STP) and “Advance the Profession” (ATP) initiatives, providing developmental and networking opportunities for HR professionals and educating business leaders on the advantages of a strategic HR capability.

Other key achievements during this period include:

  • Addition of three chapters in New Jersey, for a total of 11
  • Created six Core Leadership Area committees as established by SHRM to focus on Diversity, Workforce Readiness, College Relations, Legislative Affairs, Certification and SHRM Foundation
  • Created two additional committees specifically in the areas of Global HR and Professional Development
  • Established a Marketing/PR Committee to focus on re-branding and marketing the council and its initiatives
  • Fostered relationships with other business and professional organizations such as:
    • New Jersey Business & Industry Association
    • New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce
    • NJ BizBest Places to Work in NJ
    • Employers Association of New Jersey
    • New Jersey Human Resource Planning Group

2007 - 2008

Under the leadership of State Council Director Richard Cialone, SPHR, the Garden State Council continues to nurture and extend its reach and influence with the business community. Among the initiatives under way are:

  • State of the Profession, a project in which the current threshold of the Human Resources profession is examined to determine and define the HR service levels available to businesses today, with a particular emphasis on strategic HR. The initiative is intended to educate businesses, as well as HR practitioners, on 1) what strategic HR is, 2) determining whether a particular company needs/wants it, and 3) what they need to do to get it.
  • ROI of Volunteering, an initiative to identify/quantify the value proposition for employers when their HR professionals participate as volunteers with the Garden State Council and SHRM chapters. Its purpose is to make it easier for those who want to volunteer but are concerned their employers will not support them. By demonstrating what the employer gains from having their HR professionals volunteer, opens the door to an expanded number of participants.
  • Creation of a new Membership Core Leadership Area, as established by SHRM, to focus on initiatives that will introduce SHRM to HR professionals not currently in the membership ranks. This function will also work with chapters to promote the value of local chapter membership, in addition to SHRM membership.