Chief Human Resources Officer

Chief Human Resources Officer

Suffolk University

Boston, MA   |   October 31, 2019

Suffolk University seeks a highly collaborative and dynamic human resources leader to serve as the Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO). The CHRO will play an important role in moving the institution’s strategic initiatives forward and collaborating across the institution as an innovative and trusted partner. Success in the role requires an entrepreneurial leader with demonstrated breadth of knowledge across all human resources functions, progressively responsible management and leadership roles, and experience driving organizational change in a complex and dynamic organization.

Reporting to the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration, the CHRO will lead a team of eleven staff members. This leader will have an opportunity to be innovative in helping shape Suffolk’s culture and policies as well as implementing best practices that support the University’s momentum in both academic and administrative endeavors. The University comprises three units, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Sawyer Business School, and the Law School, and employs approximately 1,270 faculty and staff.

The Opportunity

The Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) will drive the following initiatives, opportunities, and goals:

  • Lead with vision. The CHRO will provide strategic and organizational guidance to senior leaders on human resources issues. The CHRO will evaluate and update the current HR policies and implement appropriate best practices while looking at future trends and opportunities to build a collaborative, innovative, and inclusive culture;
  • Engage as a collaborative partner. The CHRO will build a network of collaborative relationships and partnerships across the colleges and administrative units, serving as a trusted advisor and resource to staff, faculty, and administrative and academic leadership;
  • Guide talent management and workforce development and planning. The CHRO will be a future-focused leader and will build capacity among managers and supervisors, both long-standing and new, in employment matters such as onboarding, succession planning, performance evaluation, and compensation strategy. The CHRO will partner with and advise University leaders on issues related to human resources such as organizational development and compensation studies;
  • Lead and develop a strong HR team. With direction from the CHRO, Human Resources will offer the highest level of integrity and service to a relationship-driven workforce while continuing to improve policy, programs, and practices that meet the evolving human capital needs of the institution;
  • Develop and adopt best practices in human resources. The CHRO will leverage data and innovative tools and systems to build a culture that drives operational efficiency and optimizes the use of timely reporting and data analysis to present actionable intelligence for the department and the University;
  • Enhance competitive compensation and compliance. The CHRO will provide leadership on the development of compensation and benefits programs, balancing prudence while continuing to offer competitive compensation packages that attract and retain top talent. The CHRO will ensure compliance with state and federal regulations and advise leaders across the University on new and existing policies, laws and regulations;
  • Build culture, brand, and community. The CHRO will work with the campus to build a positive and inclusive university culture that highlights Suffolk’s employee value proposition. Additionally, the CHRO will develop strategies to promote Suffolk as one of the best places to work in Boston; and
  • Align with Suffolk’s mission. The CHRO will lead organizational initiatives that align with the University’s mission and goals of working collaboratively.
Suffolk University

Suffolk University is a private, coeducational, nonsectarian university located in the heart of Boston. Founded in 1906, the University offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs in its Law School, College of Arts & Sciences, and Sawyer Business School.

Suffolk is proud of its roots and place in the history of the City of Boston. Driven by the power of education, inclusion, and engagement to change lives and positively impact communities, Suffolk University provides students with a breadth of experiential and transformational learning opportunities that begin in the center of Boston, reach across the globe, and lead to extraordinary outcomes for graduates. Since 1906, Suffolk University has been woven into Boston’s thriving urban landscape, offering a truly immersive environment in which to live, learn, and explore. Boston is the ideal location for Suffolk to provide students with the keys to successful lives and careers: access, opportunity, and experience.

The University’s three schools within the Boston campus offer a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and law degree programs with real-world experience at their cores. Accessibility is a major priority at Suffolk, which offers flexible ways to learn, from part-time and evening schedules to certificates for working professionals and online classes. Small class sizes allow faculty to connect with each student, recognize their potential, and build important mentoring relationships. For more information about Suffolk’s colleges and schools, please visit:

Suffolk University is distinguished by The Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement Classification. The University is also recognized by U.S. News & World Report as #38 Best Regional University North in 2020 and #21 Most Innovative School. U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 Best Law School rankings rate the Suffolk Law programs among the nation’s best, with Legal Writing at No. 3, Trial Advocacy at No. 15, Dispute Resolution at No. 16, and Clinical Programs at No. 19. The Wall Street Journal ranks Suffolk University among “Top U.S. Colleges.” Suffolk has also been included in the 2020 edition of the Princeton Review’s Best 385 Colleges guide, a highly selective list that includes only the top 15 percent of four-year colleges and universities in the nation.

Among Suffolk’s many values and strengths are being student-centered, scholarly and professional excellence, sound financial management, community engagement, social responsibility, diversity, and integrity. For more information about Suffolk University’s mission and values, please visit:

Campus Leadership

President Marisa J. Kelly

Marisa Kelly was named Suffolk University’s president in March 2018 after guiding the University as acting president for 20 months. Her leadership accomplishments are both concrete—shattering fundraising goals, adopting innovative curriculum, embracing best practices in governance—and about enhancing culture —fostering an environment of inclusion and instilling confidence in students, faculty, and staff to perform at their best in a competitive environment. Prior to this, Kelly was provost and senior vice president for academic affairs with responsibility for working collaboratively to ensure the quality of the educational experience for students at all levels, in and outside of the classroom. In that role, Kelly distinguished herself on the senior leadership team and demonstrated her commitment to experiential learning and the development of interdisciplinary educational opportunities.

Kelly, whose academic discipline is political science, has a distinguished record of collaborative academic leadership. Before joining Suffolk she served as provost at Ithaca College, dean and McQuinn Distinguished Chair of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of St. Thomas, Minn., and spent 12 years as a faculty member and administrator at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.

She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Kansas, an MA in Political Theory from San Francisco State University, and a BA in Government from California State University at Sacramento.

Julie H. Sandell, Ph.D., Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost

Sandell joined Suffolk University as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs in August 2019. In her role as Suffolk’s chief academic officer, she is focused on creating opportunities for students and faculty to excel academically and professionally. She is a champion of experiential learning for students in all disciplines— supporting internships, research, study abroad, and service learning— and will build on a culture of faculty-student mentoring to translate classroom instruction into career preparation.

Sandell came to Suffolk from Boston University, where she served as senior associate provost and a member of the BU School of Medicine faculty. As a faculty member, Sandell was awarded the BU School of Medicine’s highest teaching award in 2001 and was nominated as that school’s Educator of the Year eight times. She has been published widely and has received more than $5 million in research funding as principal investigator or co-investigator at BU.

Sandell holds an AB in Psychology from Princeton University and a PhD in Neuroscience from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Laura Sander, Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration & Treasurer

Laura Sander joined Suffolk University as senior vice president for finance and administration and treasurer in 2016. She had previously served as chief financial officer and treasurer at Whitehead Institute, a non-profit biomedical research organization affiliated with MIT. In prior roles as vice president at both Moody’s Investors Service and at J. P. Morgan, Laura focused on higher education and nonprofit institutions. Her earlier experience included serving as assistant treasurer at Harvard University and as an analyst at the Congressional Budget Office.

Sander holds a BA from Grinnell College and a Master of Public Policy degree with a focus on finance from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government. She is a Certified Treasury Professional, a member of the Treasurers’ Club of Boston, and lends her expertise as a member of the Board of Assessors in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

Candidate Profile

The successful candidate is a strategic and process-oriented change-agent and collaborator, and an excellent participative leader. In partnership with senior leadership, the CHRO will translate Suffolk’s strategic vision into forward-thinking HR operational plans. The successful candidate will bring many of the following personal qualities and professional qualifications:

  • Demonstrated knowledge of current human resources best practices, extensive experience in organizational behavior, employee relations, compensation, benefits and employee development;
  • Ability to think creatively and strategically, to build consensus and collaborate with others, and to articulate and implement human resources programs that reflect organizational goals;
  • Approaches work with commitment to integrity and institutional values, and a distinct appreciation and respect for the University’s mission;
  • Demonstrated understanding and knowledge of talent acquisition, performance management, training and development, and talent retention;
  • A commitment to diversity and inclusion, including experience in implementing policies and practices to bolster diversity throughout an organization;
  • Depth of knowledge of compensation management and surveys, wage and hour law, labor law, Title IX and legal compliance, benefits, EEO/AA guidelines, investigations and prevention and awareness programs;
  • Experience in a labor environment and a thoughtful and considered approach to contract negotiation; strong formal and informal negotiating and mediating skills;
  • Experience in policy development, business process improvement and implementation;
  • Demonstrated facility with HR information systems, with knowledge of Workday HCM a plus;
  • A proven track record of working effectively with teams and managers to achieve more cohesive, transparent, efficient and effective operations;
  • Excellent communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills, including conflict resolution and presentation skills;
  • An ability to foster innovative and creative problem solving, active listening and communication skills, a presence that engenders trust, confidence, and respect, and the ability to lead by influence and example;
  • Strategic and operational problem solving and analytical ability including data analysis, financial and budget management and planning; ability to use data to inform and influence decisions;
  • Strong interpersonal skills to allow for effective and positive communication with management across all constituent groups of the University; demonstrated leadership/supervisory experience, and the ability to deliver sensitive information tactfully and professionally;
  • A proactive and dedicated project and people manager with a sense of urgency and willingness to operationalize strategic vision and tactical goals.
  • Extensive leadership experience within human resources in higher education or similarly complex environment; experience working with and advising senior executives;
  • Demonstrated competence, knowledge, and comfort with strategy and execution of Human Resources process improvement and related automation; and
  • A bachelor’s degree is required; master’s degree, professional certifications such as SHRM, CCP, Talent Management, and/or other related professional certifications are strongly preferred.

Beth Schaefer and Josyanne Roche of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role, please submit your materials here. All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

Suffolk University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, Vietnam-era or disabled-veteran status in its employment, admission policies, or in the administration or operation of, or access to its academic and non-academic programs and policies.

About Koya Leadership Partners

Koya Leadership Partners, a member of the Diversified Search Group, is a leading executive search and strategic advising firm dedicated to connecting exceptionally talented people with mission-driven clients. Our founding philosophy—The Right Person in the Right Place Can Change the World—guides our work as we partner with nonprofits & NGOs, institutions of higher education, responsible businesses, and social enterprises in local communities and around the world.

Koya is an equal opportunity employer fully committed to creating an environment and team that

represents a variety of backgrounds, perspectives, styles, and experiences. We encourage all to apply because we believe a diversity of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.

For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit