December 2, 2021

We have endured a challenging past one and a half years of COVID-19, a world Pandemic that has changed the very foundation of how we operate our businesses and how we work. Not only that, I know many of us have experienced our own stories of anxiety, loss, amongst a variety of other situations this pandemic has cost us as human beings. Yet, at Austin SHRM, we have striven not to lose sight of what we are here to do. We are here to support you as members as we all support our businesses and the employees, we all serve.

 Austin SHRM is not just an Association of HR professions. To me, it is a place where I have been challenged to grow personally and professionally. It is a place where everyone is equal and belongs. It's been a place of refuge to vent to other HR professionals who know the frustrations and can offer support.

I joined Austin SHRM as an HR Generalist with big aspirations to lead and be heard. At a time where I felt my voice was muffled, and I had so much passion to share for HR and DEI. I started as a member at Austin SHRM, then volunteered in the mentorship program before reaching out to a then acquaintance, Angela Shaw, to learn more about the responsibilities and what it took to be a Board Member. She sold me on applying for the VP of D&I position, which I served in two years before Lisa Blanton reached out to me to let me know she saw more in me. She approached me and asked if I would consider applying for the president role on the Board.

At the time, I was not sold on the idea because I knew I was different. I am unlike many of the leaders before me who were naturally extroverted. I also considered the fact that I am a mom of three, a full-time working professional, a wife, and a new HR Director. I was comfortable where I was and thought that I would roll off the Board to relax, whatever that meant. However, I knew I did not get where I am today without taking risks. So, I stand here because I took a leap and a risk. I answered the call to lead and refused to quit. This year has been challenging, and at any moment, I could have given up. Especially on May 24th this year when I lost my father and best friend. I contemplated if this was still the right time for me to continue in this role. But the support I saw around me met my grief with support. A huge thank you to Lisa, who called me to offer support and options to help me through the difficult time I was experiencing. To Angela Shaw for always being a friend, I can call on and to the rest of the Austin SHRM Board Members that have been pivotal in my success thus far. I am proud of the individuals I serve in this association with. I am grateful for a community that feels anyone can lead and everyone belongs.

I always look to learn things through all the adversity I face. This past year has taught me WE ARE Greater Together, and I want to encourage you to lead, inspire, transform, and get involved!

With love and appreciation,

Jennifer Charles
Austin SHRM President for 2022

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