St. John’s University’s Office of Human Resources (HR) embraces the University’s Vincentian value of service. The department serves the St. John’s community through recruitment and retention, payroll, compensation and benefits programs, training and professional development, employee coaching, and counseling—with the goal of creating a working and learning environment free from harassment and discrimination.
We believe that as an antiracist University and institution, we must deliver quality service that honors and respects the dignity and well-being of each individual. As such, we are mindful of the need to create space for the lived experiences of our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) team members. We can achieve this by actively listening, honoring the cultural differences of our BIPOC team members, and responding to situations where those cultural and diverse experiences are negated and/or ignored.
By leading with empathy and compassion, HR strives to model antiracism practices and provide education and training that seeks to end current practices and policies of systemic racism embedded within our University. All members of HR will work together with respect and appreciation of differences to support everyone’s journey toward the common goal of becoming antiracist.
HR is committed to doing the difficult and introspective work it takes to become antiracist and understand how our own biases, power, and privilege affect our daily interactions with members of the St. John’s community. We will learn to recognize and work to eradicate bias in the execution of our duties. We will continue to educate ourselves on best practices for an HR department with regard to antiracism, diversity, equity, and inclusivity.
Our goal is to apply an antiracist and equity lens in all current and future initiatives so that we can improve and develop within our own staff an awareness and appreciation of social identities, and understand how social identities impact people’s lives. As HR professionals, we have the responsibility to influence and advocate on behalf of all employees, particularly for our BIPOC employees and colleagues. We can leverage our HR roles to continue our practices to become an antiracist University.
On June 6, 2020, University senior leadership issued an antiracism statement that read in part, “The White signatories of this letter further commit to deeply examining the ways we exhibit White fragility, and understanding those practices are both deeply harmful and serve as barriers to an antiracist environment.” In support of this, HR staff members promise to practice self-introspection. As part of that self-introspection, we will examine White fragility and how Whiteness might impact relationships with students and employees of color throughout the University. We will raise our awareness, which may expose vulnerabilities, but as a department, we will lean into our discomfort.
As we work to become antiracist and achieve equity, we will embrace a diversity of perspectives in discussions, champion our diverse employee population, and be open to feedback. We will take ownership for supporting the change that the University needs, which includes increasing awareness among community members about the systems in place for individuals to speak up and speak out about bias and discrimination.
HR has formed an antiracism committee to align its practices and policies with the University’s antiracism statement and to develop an action plan to ensure HR operates as an antiracist department both in theory and practice.
Gina Barnett, Recruitment Coordinator
Eileen Caufield, Associate Director, Training and Development
Mirian Cepeda, Benefits Specialist
Karen Crowley, Human Resources Generalist
Cathleen Dewick, Office Manager
Patricia Dorrian, Associate Director, Compensation
Danielle Haynes, Interim Director, Equal Opportunity and Compliance, and Title IX Coordinator
Cynthia Fico Simpson, Director, Human Resources Services
Dominique A. Torres, Executive Director, Employee Engagement and Retention
Keaton Wong, J.D., Interim Associate Vice President, Office of Human Resources
The Education and Development Subcommittee is responsible for increasing racial literacy by providing resources to HR and University employees.
The Policy and Procedure Subcommittee is responsible for leading the charge in the review and revision of HR policies and procedures to ensure that they align with the University’s goal of becoming antiracist.
The HR Climate Subcommittee is responsible for creating an environment within HR that allows for open conversation around the topic of racism.