Kendra Smith returns to lead HR with wealth of experience

A 2009 graduate of the College in psychology, she has broad and deep connections to the Saint Michael's community.

April 8, 2020
Mark Tarnacki
Staff Writer

Kendra Smith ’09 has returned to lead the Saint Michael’s Human Resources office where she started as a student worker in 2005 before rising to increasingly responsible duties as an employee starting in 2012 prior to leaving briefly at the end of 2019 for a project at Burlington’s Howard Center that she recently wrapped up.

Kendra Smith

Kendra Smith ’09

Rob Robinson, vice president, announced in late March that Smith has accepted the position of Director of Human Resources, effective on Monday, March 30. “In her role as Director, Kendra will have responsibility for the Saint Michael’s College Human Resources and Early Learning Center teams,” Robinson said in his announcement. “Please join me in welcoming Kendra as she returns to Saint Michael’s.” Robinson said that Mike New, retired longtime Human Resources chief for the College who had returned on an interim basis to lead the office in recent months, “will continue in his role and assist Kendra in transitioning through April 10. Please also join me in thanking Mike for his willingness to come out of retirement for a few months, and for his outstanding leadership.”

Robinson further thanked Alex Bertoni, marketing/communications director, Tara Natarajan, dean of faculty, and Catherine Welch of Student Life “for their efforts and valuable insight as the search committee for this important position.” He said an administrative change related to this is that “Human Resources and Facilities will now report to the Vice President of Finance.”

“I’m thrilled to have Kendra rejoining the Saint Michael’s College community in this crucial role.  Her institutional knowledge, love of Saint Michael’s, and positive attitude make her a valuable addition to the team,” Robinson said. Eileen O’Rourke ’83 had been head of the HR office from August 2018 until deciding to leave at the end of 2019.

Smith said she was “very excited to learn of the re-creation of the HR Director position as a result of a reorganization of the Human Resources department. After roughly 8 years working in HR, I recently left the college for an opportunity to be Administrative Program Coordinator for the crisis programs at the Howard Center.”

“While I was away, I stayed connected to many in the community and still feeling as though Saint Michael’s would always be my second home,” she said, “and so I jumped at the opportunity to return to my beloved college and department a short three months after I left to step into this leadership role.” Smith said she looks forward to “providing oversight for the strategic planning and execution of HR processes and initiatives, bringing my expertise and skills as a compassionate leader and HR professional back to this special place. This opportunity is a dream come true for me.”

The new director’s positive personality is widely known and appreciated on the St. Mike’s campus. Of that, she said, “I live my life with gratitude and joyful presence and enjoy sharing my love for meditation with students, faculty and staff on campus, offering weekly mindfulness meditation sittings.”

At her home in Charlotte, she said, “I enjoy going for walks with my partner Michael and black lab mix, Juno, enjoying the beautiful land that we live on … Yoga is another passion of mine that helps me stay grounded in gratitude. The beauty and magic of nature captivates me and keeps me feeling grateful to live in this beautiful state every day.”

Smith’s other work experiences include as a customer service representative for Regional Elite Airlines and personal banker with Merchants Bank in the years between her graduation and return to the College. As a student she also was an emergency dispatcher and switchboard operator for the College, where she graduated magna cum laude in psychology including a semester abroad in Salzburg, Austria. She has been a volunteer leader of St. Mike’s service trips numerous times as an employee, and is a Notary Public and CPR certified.

Other than studying abroad in college, Smith said, “I have lived in Vermont my whole life, growing up in the Northeast Kingdom (from the town of Walden- population of just under 1,000). After coming to Saint Michael’s College I never left this area, and dreamed to return to the College, which I was lucky enough to do three years after graduation as the payroll specialist. I look forward to helping the HR department stabilize after going live with Oracle [a new human capital and data management and system for the College recently introduced campus-wide] and working toward a place of efficiency so that we can step back into a more strategic role, supporting a diverse faculty and staff, working together to live our mission.”

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