HR Virginia Takes Richmond: 2024 Annual State Conference Recap

In an Olympic year, it’s only logical that the 2024 HR Virginia State Conference would carry a theme of strength. After all, have the last three or four years not required unprecedented strength and stamina from us all? And on the afternoon of April 21, 2024, nearly 1,000 human resources professionals from Virginia, DC and beyond began to descend on Richmond to conquer hurdles that sometimes feel like they require strength of Olympic proportions.

Beginning that Sunday afternoon, Travis Dommert & Kristen Eskew delivered an excellent pre-conference workshop about Building a High-Performance Culture, sponsored by OneDigital. The workshop was followed by an opening reception and happy hour in the Marketplace. We spent the evening greeting old friends, making new connections, and enjoying an opportunity to network with various HR vendors.

We kicked off the official conference events on Monday morning with a rousing Parade of Chapters, which encouraged team spirit among leaders from our eighteen chapters across DC and Virginia.

                              

Over the next two and a half days, attendees heard dynamic keynote speakers, including comedienne Karith Foster, who shared her Lessons in Leadership, Listening, and Laughter. We heard from Ruben Gonzales, an Olympic luger who was the first person to compete in four Winter Olympics in FOUR different decades. Ruben shared his story and encouraged us to be unstoppable on the way to our goals. To close out the conference, we heard from Paralympic Silver Medalist John Register, who taught us through his own very personal story how to overcome adversity and embrace a “new normal” mindset. Each of our keynotes brought important reminders that mental toughness and the right mindset are often the differentiators between failure and success.

                   

In addition to our keynotes, we had many wonderful concurrent sessions, covering different topics which are top of mind for HR professionals in today’s business environment. Rooms were filled to capacity for sessions about humor in the workplace, building a strong workplace culture, being mindful of unconscious bias, and many more. Topics surrounding diversity and inclusion were popular this year, with a session about using music as a metaphor for DEI – attendees learned to play African Djembe drums! – a session about creating employee resource groups, and sessions addressing the bookends of our workforce, Gen Z and Boomers, and how to ensure the needs of all are met. As always, our employment law partners brought the ever-important legal updates and even a mock trial.

There was an abundance of learning going on, but Richmond also offers plenty of opportunities for fun! Some attendees joined chapter or partner happy hours, some took advantage of the Richmond tourism trolley and dined in some of the many amazing eateries in town. Others enjoyed a fun evening at Hotel Greene for a round of miniature golf in a very unexpected setting.

We were delighted to have guests from SHRM at the conference with us, and as usual, our attendees proved to be generous in their participation with our fundraising activities. Between our silent auction and raffles, we raised over $11,000 for the SHRM Foundation! We were also proud to host our future HR professionals – our student members – for a student day on Monday, and we were thrilled to announce Frostburg State University as the winner of the Student Case Competition, which took place on Sunday evening.

We could not have pulled off such an amazing conference without the tireless efforts of over 100 volunteers – people who have full-time, demanding jobs, and somehow found the time to devote themselves to putting together an excellent event that we can all be proud of. Committee volunteers pour their hearts and energy into all aspects of the conference, including speaker selection, food choices, audiovisual, publicity, social media, website and registration administration, and finding supportive conference partners. We are so proud to have worked with this gold-medal committee, one that epitomizes the word “team.”

Many thanks to all who joined us in Overcoming Workplace Hurdles and may you all continue to display the strength and winning attitude to take your workplaces to GOLD!

Jamie Ryers, SHRM-SCP

Jamie Ryers, SHRM-SCP

2024 Conference Co-Chair

Karis Richardson, SHRM-SCP

2024 Conference Co-Chair

Chapter Resources

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