The recent arrival of Shaundria Williams, Director of Human Resources, at Western Wyoming Community College marks the beginning of a new era in the College’s HR operation. With last year’s retirements of Associate Vice President for Administration Carla Budd, who had functioned as HR Director since 2010, and of longtime Vice President for Administration Marty Kelsey, who had fulfilled the HR role for more than two decades prior, the timing was right for Western to bring in a dedicated, full-time director who can update and streamline the College’s HR practices while bringing a service-oriented posture to the department.
“My main focal point in my human resources career has been to help people; make sure they understand their rights and privileges as employees,” said Williams, 36. “(I like) being that sounding board when people need somebody to talk to. I’m compassionate, open, and unbiased. Having those qualities personally helps in the human resources profession.”
Williams is a lifetime North Carolina resident who previously worked as Human Resources Associate for the School of Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication from East Carolina University and her Master of Public Administration from North Carolina Central University. Though her undergraduate degree had set her on a communication/public relations career track, a quirk of circumstance led Williams into the not-unrelated field of human resources.
“In the scope of finding my way after school, I took a few temporary positions, and one of them was Human Resources Assistant in the School of Nursing at Chapel Hill,” she recalled. “I had a knack for it. I fell in love with it quickly, and over a series of events I found a permanent position at UNC and stayed there. It just grew on me over time, the policies and service to my fellow employees”
Eventually, Williams began looking for advancement possibilities, and she said the posting at Western appealed to her for a variety of reasons.
“Western stood out as an open community,” she said. “In the interview process, everyone was so happy in their roles, and that was very encouraging, to come here and not have any side murmuring about employment. There were no overt issues here. That was good. It made me feel like the transition would be smooth and I could get in and get some things done.
“Also, in the interview process, I learned of some projects that were waiting for me. It was good to know that I wouldn’t just be a placeholder, that I would actually have some work to do when I got here.”
Not surprisingly for someone who greatly values the service aspects of her role, Williams said her top priorities in the early weeks and months of her tenure are to get to know her employees, her colleagues, and the supervisors and employees whose needs she and her staff will seek to address.
“A lot of my priorities have to do with people,” she said. “One of my top priorities is to really get to know my staff, get to know their individual needs as employees, and get to know what their day in the life looks like, to make sure that I am being a supportive supervisor. Because I believe Human Resources is the lifeblood of any organization, and so being that supportive supervisor for the lifeblood will help things run smoothly. I want to get to know exactly what they do so I can see how I can support them, versus coming in and saying, ‘Do it this way.’
“Another priority of mine is getting to know the other supervisors and administrators here, to see what they need for their roles, and see how I can support them in their roles,” Williams continued. “I’m ready to make my mark in a positive way by getting to know the overall culture of Western, from students to faculty to staff, and getting to see how what I bring to the table truly fits here.”
Williams said she didn’t know a lot about Wyoming when she applied for the position, but that didn’t stop her from pursuing the opportunity. Besides, Williams grew up in Oxford, N.C., itself a very small community.
“I’ve told several people that Rock Springs feels like someone scooped up my hometown of Oxford, N.C., and dropped it in the midst of mountains,” Williams said. “So it’s a familiar feeling.
“This is a new and exciting adventure for me,” she continued. “I did not know a whole lot about Wyoming when I came out here, but I decided that the world is bigger than North Carolina, and it would be worth it to give Wyoming a shot. I was more concerned with not trying than I was with it being unfamiliar.”
If Williams experiences any culture shock from her move to Western, it’s more likely to come from the switch in institutions and the change in roles, rather than from the geographic relocation.
“(My) role here is different in that it is not so much task-oriented as it is strategic, so I have to take a step back and not be so driven by what there is to do as to be driven by the people that I am serving,” she said. “That’s why getting to know the people of Western is so important to me, because that will help me develop the priorities, and not just come in with my own agenda.
“I come from an institution of 10,000-plus employees and my unit had roughly 250 employees,” Williams continued. “Now, I have to regroup, get to know a different pool of people and serve them the way they need to be served.”
Williams is married to Torrence Williams, MHS and they have two small children.