NORRISTOWN, PA — The Montgomery County Commissioners have hired Catherine (Katie) Halen, an executive with 25 years of human resources experience in the healthcare industry, as the County’s new Chief Human Resources Officer.
Halen had spent most of her career with Delaware-based Beebe Healthcare, an organization with 3,000 employees, similar to the Montgomery County government’s workforce size, leaving there as senior vice president, chief human resources officer.
She developed workforce recognition and retention programs at Beebe that helped reduce the employee turnover rates. In addition, Halen also led her team through a rapid onboarding initiative, resulting in a 45% increase in new hires in fiscal year 2022.
Montgomery County Commissioners’ Chair Kenneth E. Lawrence said she brings HR innovation that the County needs.
“Like many employers, we have felt the effects of the Great Resignation that happened during the pandemic. To remain competitive with private industry in recruiting and retaining the best talent, we are examining ideas like merit pay raises and annual employee plans with targeted goals and evaluations. We feel that Katie has the skill and experience to help lead those efforts to make sure we not only attract, but also engage with our employees, to keep them once they’re here,” Lawrence said. “We are quite happy to have an HR director of her caliber as part of our leadership team.”
The regional economy and jobs have been growing markedly for more than two years, making recruitment challenging. Montgomery County must compete for employees in that environment.
“There are more jobs than there are people looking for some of those jobs,” Halen said. “That makes retaining employees a priority. You do that through a competitive compensation and benefits program. But you also have to look for ways to make it simpler to complete the day-to-day work that needs to be done. Our commissioners have tasked us with developing leaders to create an even more engaged and connected workforce.”
At Beebe, Halen developed multiple training programs to improve the talent pipeline and to provide opportunities for team members to develop and grow. She also implemented an internal training program to address the shortage in key support staff and emerging leaders.
Halen said she was attracted to Montgomery County because of the “remarkable” array of programs the County has developed for its residents. “The focus on mission here is primarily what attracted me,” she said. “In healthcare, we took care of the patients. In the County, you’re taking care of the citizens through the multiple services that are offered.”
To add to her expertise, Halen received her senior professional HR (SPHR) certification and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) certification at Cornell University and is currently completing further certification study there on labor relations.
Halen said she rediscovered over the past year, in taking certification courses, how much she loves learning. She hopes to bring that enthusiasm into the County’s workforce.
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