Springfield, MO

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2014 40 Under 40 Honoree: Parker McKenna

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From where he sits, Parker McKenna is in a rare spot statewide. McKenna is in charge of human resources for the largest fully accredited school district in Missouri.

Springfield Public Schools employs some 4,000 workers and operates more than 60 facilities. As the district’s chief human resources officer and a member of the superintendent’s cabinet, McKenna manages the operational and strategic functions of HR, benefits and labor relations to fit into SPS’ strategic plan.

“SPS touches the lives of tens of thousands of families in this community,” he says. “Attracting and retaining the highest possible levels of talent within our system is the most (significant) factor which contributes to the success of our students and families.”

Responsible for the district’s human capital, Superintendent Norm Ridder says McKenna has led efforts to redesign staff performance evaluations, implement talent management initiatives and monitor staff engagement and satisfaction. A recent districtwide staff satisfaction rating was 93.

“When I assumed my current position with SPS,” McKenna says of his November 2012 promotion, at just 29 years old, “one of my first goals was to establish a comprehensive strategy for the function of HR which was aligned to the district’s strategic plan.”

While several components have been implemented – each with its own unique challenges – McKenna says he’s learned through the process front-line employees quickly look at their leaders’ buy-in before accepting new initiatives.

With an eye on the future of the HR profession and the city’s next generation of students, McKenna serves as board president of the Springfield Area Human Resources Association, and he teaches HR graduate courses at Webster University.

In his SAHRA role, McKenna also is involved at the national level. He was selected to a 20-member advisory team for young professionals in the Society for Human Resource Management.

“Our goal is to develop programs which attract and retain young professionals,” he says. “HR, like other fields, needs a pipeline of talent to continue moving organizations forward when HR professionals retire or move on.”

After graduating with a business management degree from Missouri State University in 2005, McKenna quickly started on his MBA in organizational development and HR, while simultaneously working his first SPS job as HR and benefits manager. He was promoted to HR division director in early 2011.

The Springfield native is a Leadership Springfield graduate and has served on its board, as well as committees for the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and the leadership council for The Network for Springfield’s Young Professionals. McKenna also has served on the board of the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri.[[In-content Ad]]


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