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ATD honors CNY BEST Talent Development Award winners



The winners of the 14th Annual CNY BEST Talent Development Awards were announced at CNY ATD’s CNY BEST Talent Development Awards Ceremony held virtually on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021.

CNY ATD annually presents the CNY BEST Talent Development Awards to recognize excellence in talent development in the Central New York area. Organizations that link learning to the strategic growth or success of organizations and individuals are recognized as CNY’s BEST in Talent Development.

Nominations for this year’s CNY BEST Talent Development Awards represent a wide range of organizations and include: AmeriCU Credit Union; Keeping People Safe and Factories Running; Leadergrow Inc.; National Grid; OneGroup; Oneida Nation Enterprises, LLC; TDO (Train, Develop, Optimize); Tompkins Financial Corp.; and YWCA of Syracuse & Onondaga Co. Inc.

Nominations were evaluated by a panel of local and national judges representing the profession and community. They evaluated the quality of talent-development practices, practice results and impacts, and demonstrations of how the practices linked to the strategic growth or success of organizations and individuals. The distinguished panel of judges for the 2021 CNY BEST Talent Development Awards included: Bernadette Costello, Ph.D., managing partner of BCC Consulting and national advisor for chapters at ATD; David Goodness, regional director for CNY at the Workforce Development Institute; Jeff Gribble, managing partner at OakLeaf Group; Louise Hand, site HR manager at Exelon and chapter president, CNY SHRM; Joanne Rauch, executive recruiter at CR Fletcher Associates; and Sheena Solomon, executive director of The Gifford Foundation.

CNY BEST Talent Development Organization Award

National Grid was recognized with the CNY BEST Talent Development Organization Award for linking talent development to their organization’s strategic growth or success with its “Our Journey to Securing Course Materials” project.

No formal procedures for monitoring course content or access to the materials; inconsistent, inefficient approaches to search, locate, and use materials; experiencing missing, accidentally moved, deleted, or outdated files; reproducing materials to replace those lost or missing; and a new IT cybersecurity plan led to National Grid starting the Our Journey to Securing Course Materials project. Following research and discussions, the instructional-design team led the process of moving all course materials to a new SharePoint site. The application allowed the team to create permissions, track version history, and have accountability to creating or changing course materials.

Having secure talent-development course materials is crucial to any organization’s talent-development efforts. The Our Journey to Securing Course Materials project helped National Grid manage and track its courses and handling of course material more efficiently and with security. One example showing the significance of this project was a review of almost 900 courses on its Learning Management System leading to a deactivation of over 300 outdated courses. Reduction in wasted time and efforts, and more consistencies in materials and processes will allow the organization’s talent-development team to be more impactful. 

CNY BEST Talent Development Team Award

Keeping People Safe and Factories Running, a consortium of 23 Central New York companies with support from MACNY, The Manufacturers Association, was honored with the CNY BEST Talent Development Team Award for linking talent development for its internal or external stakeholders to the organization’s strategic growth or success with its “Keeping People Safe and Factories Running” program.

The Keeping People Safe and Factories Running consortium came together in the early stage of the pandemic to address a fear that the infection could shut down operations with a devastating impact on the companies, the economy, the communities, and the employees. Cohorts made a pledge that their respective companies would go above and beyond the safety and communications requirements put out by the various governmental agencies. Tasks, protocols, training, a set of common measurements of effectiveness, and audits were agreed upon with a process of continuous improvement. 

This was an effort that required significant creativity, speed, and commitment to get it right, to work together to develop best-practice protocols, and “keep people safe and factories running.” The program that was created was shared with elected officials in Albany and became a best practice for manufacturers throughout the nation. Judges declared that this collaboration showed true leadership. Cohorts affirmed that through collaboration, cooperation, and dialogue, they collectively and individually created programs to achieve the end result of protecting their employees, families, and communities. One company commented, “Having a network of businesses with varying approaches and techniques to draw upon for best practices and support has been a bright light during a very uncertain time.”

CNY BEST Talent Development Consultant Award

Leadergrow Inc. was presented with the CNY BEST Talent Development Consultant Award for linking talent development to a clients’ strategic growth or success with its Leadership for Managers Course.

The course is aimed at all leader positions from supervisor to C-suite executives, and is an excellent development course for aspiring leaders with the goal of creating a much higher caliber of leader. The course covers leadership, motivation, culture, building trust along with communications and people skills, organizational and corporate skills, and integrating work and life. 

Cited by Leadership Excellence Magazine as a “Top Thought Leader on Leadership Development,” Bob Whipple took his many years of experience to develop Leadergrow’s Leadership for Managers Course. Whipple’s passion shines through his belief that the highest calling for any leader is to grow other leaders.

The leadership program is highly acclaimed with most participants rating it as one of the best courses they have ever taken and stating that it creates a much higher caliber of leader.

In addition to recognizing excellence in talent-development practices, CNY ATD acknowledged members for national and local recognitions, and announced CNY ATD Scholarship Recipients.

CNY ATD Member Recognitions

Certified Professional in Talent Development

Erin Cunia and Binaifer Dabu were recognized for achieving the Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD) designation, the only credential covering the entire talent-development profession. Earning the CPTD credential signifies that a talent-development professional possesses the knowledge and skills with direct experience across the breadth of talent-development capabilities. CPTDs understand, and can affect, the value, and impact that employee learning and development strategies bring to the success of an organization. The process of being certified is broad-based and addresses the key capabilities as defined in the ATD Talent Development Capability Model, the framework for the talent-development profession. An individual must pass a comprehensive, standardized exam designed to assess the ability to apply knowledge and use critical thinking to solve on-the-job situations encountered in the daily work of talent-development professionals.

ATD Up & Coming Recognition

Cheri Green was recognized for her ATD Up & Coming Recognition. ATD (Association for Talent Development) recognizes rising stars and outstanding young professionals working in talent development with this recognition. ATD describes Up & Coming professionals as leaders among peers and colleagues with demonstrated professional achievements, such as leading successful projects, managing teams, displaying excellent leadership capabilities, or mentoring others.

CNY ATD Member and 40 Under Forty Honoree

Jennifer Rousseau was identified as a 40 under Forty honoree. Rousseau was nominated by CNY ATD for the 40 under Forty recognition for her contributions to CNY ATD along with other business and civic achievements.

CNY ATD Member Author

Mark Britz was recognized for the publication of “Social By Design,” a talent-development book he co-authored, which looks to help organizations remove barriers so knowledge flows more quickly, resulting in greater employee responsiveness and engagement.

CNY ATD Scholarship Awards

Manal El Tigi was awarded the CNY ATD Ken Steiger Leadership Scholarship. She is pursuing an organizational development consultant certification. Darlene McDougall, of Oswego County Opportunities, was awarded a CNY ATD Train-the-Trainer Scholarship to attend the nationally recognized CNY ATD Train-the-Trainer Program.

CNY ATD established the scholarship program to encourage and support professional development and continuing education in the field of talent development. The CNY ATD Ken Steiger Leadership Scholarship is named in honor of CNY ATD’s 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Ken Steiger. The CNY ATD Train-the-Trainer Scholarship provides financial assistance for nonprofit organizations looking to develop their staff or volunteers who educate an audience.

Keynote Speaker

The keynote speaker for the CNY BEST Talent Development Awards Ceremony was Melanie Littlejohn, VP of customer and community management, at National Grid. Her keynote address, titled “Talent Development… Your Super Power or Your Kryptonite?” equated a talent development kryptonite to the “mini me syndrome.”


CNY ATD thanks the following sponsors for their support of the CNY BEST Talent Development Program: The Central New York Business Journal; Visual Technologies; Emergent; National Grid; Oneida Nation Enterprises, LLC; OneGroup; TDO (Train, Develop, Optimize); and getAbstract.                     

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