The Greater Merrimack Valley Human Resource Association

An affiliate of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) serving and advancing the HR profession through educational programs, legislative updates, and networking.


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Upcoming events

    • 05 Nov 2020
    • 8:00 AM - 10:30 AM (EST)
    • Webinar

    Thursday, November 5, 2020

    Remote Meeting

          8:00 AM - 8:15 AM Welcome from Amy Sabato
                 8:15 AM - 8:30 - Chapter Business
    8:30-8:45 Legal Update and Q&A with Deb Najjar

                   8:45 - 10:30 Program

    Approved for 1.50 SHRM,   HRCI credits pending

    Topic:  MA Paid Family & Medical Leave (PFMLL)

    Starting on January 1, 2021, employees will become eligible for paid time off under the Paid Family and Medical Leave Law (PFMLL).  Many HR professionals are wondering how the PFMLL will interact with existing employer policies, especially given the anticipation of an onslaught of requests as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. This program will cover the important updates from the recently revised PFMLL regulations and explain the various considerations that employers should take to get ready as the Department of Family and Medical Leave continues to implement the PFMLL.


    Our Speakers: Janette A. Ekanem & Debra Dyleski-Najjar

    Janette A. Ekanem is an associate at the law firm Hirsch Roberts Weinstein LLP (HRW) where she represents businesses, nonprofits, human service providers, colleges, universities, and other entities in a variety of employment matters.  Attorney Ekanem’s practice involves providing comprehensive counsel on hiring, personnel policies, discrimination, retaliation, investigations, pay equity, and wage and hour compliance. 

    Attorney Ekanem has served as Vice Chair of the Massachusetts Bar Association’s (MBA) Labor and Employment Section Council, and she currently chairs the MBA Paid Family and Medical Leave Working Group.  

    In 2020, Attorney Ekanem was selected to Super Lawyers, Rising Stars, and is recognized in the 2021 edition of Best Lawyers in America: Ones to Watch.  In 2019, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly honored Attorney Ekanem as an “Up & Coming Lawyer,” and she received the Distinguished Young Alumni Award from ClarkJanette  University.

    Attorney Ekanem holds a B.A. in Government and International Relations, Magna Cum Laude, (2009) and a Master of Public Administration (2010), from Clark University.  She is a 2013 graduate of Northeastern University School of Law.

    Debra Dyleski-Najjar, Legislative Director of the GMVHRA,  is president and founder of the Najjar Employment Law Group, PC (NELGPC) with offices in Boston and Andover, MA. NELGPC is a boutique management labor, employment and benefits firm. Prior to founding NELGPC in April 2008, she practiced employment law for over 25 years and was an equity partner in a 250-attorney regional law firm. Debra earned her B.A. from Wellesley College in 1980 and her J.D. from Boston University School of Law in 1983 where she was editor of the Law Review. She is a past chair and current member of the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Labor & Employment Law Section, and a member of the Employment Law Section of the American Bar Association and the ABA’s International Labor and Employment Law Subcommittee. In 2007, she was inducted as a fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and serves as the chair of the First Circuit Credentialing Committee. She is a credentialed member of the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA), a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and a member of the 2005 graduating class of Leadership New Hampshire.   She has been recognized in Best Lawyers of America in the field of management employment law, and recognized as a Super Lawyer (an honor bestowed on only 5% of attorneys) for fifteen consecutive years.  She is the Massachusetts State Council Government Affairs Director for the Society of Human Resource Management, and serves on the advisory board of the Lawrence Partnership. Debra has extensive experience representing employers in complex litigation, conducts investigations into alleged harassment and misconduct, defends employers before state and federal courts and administrative agencies, and assists and counsels employers on matters involving harassment, discrimination, ADA, FMLA, OSHA, ERISA, FLSA, diversity, immigration and other workplace compliance and risk management issues. Debra is admitted to practice in the state and federal courts of New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts, the First Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. She is a frequent author, speaker, counselor and trainer on workplace issues, and serves on the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Task Force.

    Our Sponsor: 

    Background In 1982, healthcare costs were rising at an astronomical 14.1% and employers were struggling with a recession that required them to do more with less. The employee benefits market, long a key component in attracting and retaining the best employees had now become a huge drag on corporate profitability. Against that background, Jennifer Borislow understood the need to create a consultative advisory firm to help employers make strategic decisions and survive those challenging times. At the time, a benefits consultancy was a completely unique model. Today, a number of firms talk about their “outside-the-box” thinking. At Borislow, we never had a box.

    In 2005, Mark Gaunya joined the firm as a partner, bringing over 20 years’ experience in employee benefits and the healthcare industry. His innovative, creative and disruptive vision have helped to shape the agency through a period of consistent growth and practice expansion. Today, Mark is a co-owner of the firm and serves as its Chief Innovation Officer. Despite a culture of constant innovation, the basic principles on which Borislow was founded have not changed and have been the bedrock of client relationships that last, on average, more than 15 years. The firm has grown from its initial 4 employees serving the New England market to more than 50 employees serving clients across the USA and internationally.

    21st Century Advisory Today’s business owners and managers are dealing with complexity that was unthinkable just a few short years ago. From a wide array of compliance issues to Consumer Directed Health Plans with a variety of spending account options, and helping create a climate of health and wellbeing for employees, we meet each client where their needs are. Sometimes those client needs are quite traditional – and we are happy to suggest traditional solutions. Other times, the needs are anything but traditional. When the law changed and a group of our clients who were in the same industry could no longer purchase together to drive market efficiencies, we helped them to build their own self-governed captive health insurance company. Completely untraditional, and extremely effective!



    For more information:

    Contact: Lisa Lemieux, PHR, SHRM-CP

    Phone: 978-204-3207

    • 03 Dec 2020
    • 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM (EST)
    • Webinar

    Thursday, December 3, 2020

    Remote Meeting

          8:00 AM - 8:15 AM Welcome from Amy Sabato

                 8:45 - 12:00 Program      

    Approved for 3.25 SHRM Credits, HRCI Credits Pending

    Topic:  Legal Update


    Lessons from the Year’s Top Cases & Regulatory and Statutory Update (75 Minutes)   
    Speaker:  Sarah Spatafore                                            

      A comprehensive overview of major legislative, regulatory and case law developments during the past year, including developments at Massachusetts and Federal agencies, and significant court decisions under Federal and Massachusetts law.  The program will include a Massachusetts Paid Family and Medical and Leave law update.  The PFML update will provide an overview of steps employers should take NOW to ensure readiness for2021 when the benefit begins, including review and integration of current leave and short-term disability policies with the PFML benefit, updating employee handbooks and policy manuals, review of job descriptions to comply with PFML fitness for duty requirements, and steps to take to be ready for the anti-retaliation provisions. The program will also include an NLRB case update, which has relevance for all employers, including cases addressing employees’ use of offensive language and a union’s right to access an employer’s property.

    Toolkit for Meeting Reasonable Accommodation Obligations (40 minutes)
    Nan ONeill

    This presentation will both review an employer’s reasonable accommodation obligation under the ADA and MGL c. 151B, and highlight tips for what should be in your reasonable accommodation toolkit for successfully engaging in the reasonable accommodation process and determining whether an accommodation is required and/or reasonable.  There will be suggestions for improving your reasonable accommodation policy, and making sure managers understand their obligations. The program will also include reasonable accommodation requirements in the COVID-19 context, as well as new EEOC guidance addressing reasonable accommodations for opioid use disorder (OUD).

    Internal Investigations in the 2020 Context   (40 minutes)
    Speaker: Sarah Spatafore

    Increasingly, employers are being required to conduct investigations into employee complaints.  Recent national and global events, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the focus on racial injustice have contributed to a rise in the number and scope of employee complaints.  While employers will continue to receive complaints regarding harassment and hostile work environment, employers need to be prepared to respond quickly and appropriately to a new wave of complaints, such as complaints in which employees will be looking for systemic changes regarding racial injustice, and discrimination and/or retaliation related to employee refusal to work as a result of COVID-19.  This module will take a look at investigative approaches employers should consider in the context of emerging issues employees are raising. 

    COVID-19 Update (40 minutes)
     Kathryn Murphy,  Sarah Spatafore &  Nan ONeill

    This panel will discuss recent COVID-19 developments employers must consider when making a variety of business and employment decisions, including return to work protocols, remote work issues, COVID testing, and wage and hour implications.  We will focus on both practical and legal considerations of existing and new regulatory mandates and distill best practices for employers in this ever-changing environment.


    Our Speakers: Sarah Spatafore, Kathryn Murphy and Nan O'Neill

    Please click the link below for the speakers bios.

    Attorney Bios.2020.Legal Update.docx

    Our Sponsor: Interesting in Sponsoring? Contact Julie Moore at 



    For more information:

    Contact: Lisa Lemieux, PHR, SHRM-CP

    Phone: 978-204-3207

    • 07 Jan 2021
    • 8:00 AM - 10:30 AM (EST)
    • Webinar

    Thursday, January 7, 2021

    Remote Meeting

          8:00 AM - 8:15 AM Welcome from Amy Sabato
                 8:15 AM - 8:55 Legal Update and Q&A with Deb Najjar

                 9:00 - 10:30 Program

    Approved for 1.50 SHRM credits, HRCI credits pending

    Topic: Succession Planning Blown Up

    Tired of talking about succession yet no one listens? Please join us for a discussion on succession planning in January. Perhaps some of these stories resonate with you?

    • You just completed your fourth nine-box exercise in two years and yet no one moves up or out, senior management keeps reorganizing until you are so frustrated you stop even thinking of succession. Good people move on. Lousy performers stay.
    • You organize leadership development programs after creating a high performers list with your peers. Participants engage only to find that stretch assignments aren’t followed up on, workloads don’t adjust to allow the time for learning and development and mentors are cancelling their meetings.

    Come to this session to learn how-to blow-up succession planning and get down to meaningful talent development actions that produce your next top leaders. Your best people are the most vulnerable to leave and you need to be focusing on what keeps people engaged and fulfilled.

    Let’s move from assessing “high performers” to discovering and nurturing highly engaged leaders. It’s a simple solution that’s hard to do.

    You will walk away with:

    • A framework of engagement that can be measured
    • Critical coaching tools that reframe succession into, “So, What’s Next?”
    • A roadmap of activities that promote the movement of talent throughout the organization 
    • Crisis planning

    Our Speaker: Jim Kimberly, President of Sapphire Consulting,

    Jim Kimberly is President and founder of Sapphire Consulting, LLC. Formed in 2002 as a boutique leadership development and coaching firm, Sapphire is dedicated to bringing relevant human capital solutions to their client partners. Sapphire is proud to have exceptionally talented coaches and consultants who focus on quality and consistency in its offerings.

    Jim personally seeks to unlock potential in every leader. He has spent a career helping individuals and their teams develop by leveraging their strengths and accelerating meaningful personal and professional growth. Leadership demands learning about oneself and his/her environment in a way that enhances connections with others and Jim ensures that every leader learns.

    Learning through understanding ones’ emotional intelligence has been a hallmark of Jim’s coaching work for the last 18 years, becoming a Master Trainer in EQi and EQ360 instruments. He brings the power of EQ to create a robust picture of how personality, emotion and behavior impacts business success. He trains teams around The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team to prepare them for transformational development. He is certified in MBTI, Hogan and several other assessments.

    Jim offers leadership coaching, leadership development programming and organizational development consulting to its clients in healthcare, finance, insurance, utilities, bio pharma, manufacturing, higher education and telecommunications industries. These organizations have valued Jim’s highly interactive presentation style that yields positive change and engagement.

    Before starting Sapphire, Jim spent 21 years in the behavioral healthcare industry bringing innovative managed care, EAP and consulting/OD solutions to its customers. Jim led an AIDS counseling program and helped transform the community response during the early years of the epidemic.

    Jim graduated with an MSW from SUNY Buffalo and a BA in Sociology from Ripon College. Jim volunteers for the YMCA and has served several community committees/boards. He enjoys boating, fishing, golf and woodworking in his NH home and beyond.

    Our Sponsor: Interesting in Sponsoring? Contact Julie Moore at 



    For more information:

    Contact: Lisa Lemieux, PHR, SHRM-CP

    Phone: 978-204-3207

Past events

01 Oct 2020 Unconscious Bias in the Workplace
15 Sep 2020 SAVE THE DATE - Twin State Virtual HR Summit
03 Sep 2020 Investigations Primer in a Remote Workplace
04 Jun 2020 Behavioral and Mental Issues: How to Make It OKAY to Ask for Help
07 May 2020 Thriving in an HR Department of One....or More
28 Apr 2020 POSTPONED 2020 Granite State HR Conference
02 Apr 2020 Annual Legal Update
05 Mar 2020 Leadership Sustainability – How to Build Resilience and Prevent Burnout in a 24/7 World
06 Feb 2020 Building HR Analytical Capabilities
09 Jan 2020 Massachusetts Health for SMALL Business - BONUS PROGRAM
09 Jan 2020 The Top 10 List. What HR Professionals Need to Know About Social Security, Medicare, and the Aging Workforce
12 Dec 2019 Narcissism in the Workplace
07 Nov 2019 Surviving the Life or Death Gap – (Blue-U Defense Presentation)
03 Oct 2019 The Performance Review Journey
18 Sep 2019 GMVHRA Evening of Networking
05 Sep 2019 Criminal Records and Second Chances: Hiring Employees in 2019
06 Jun 2019 Positive ROI: Effective Mentor Program Design for Workforce Development
02 May 2019 Lessons from the Trenches: Tips and Strategies to Avoid Employee Lawsuits
30 Apr 2019 Granite State HR Conference
04 Apr 2019 Annual Legal Update
07 Mar 2019 The Key to Productivity-Why Happiness Matters at Work
07 Feb 2019 Holding Employees to Accountability in the Workplace and Ensuring Commitments of Engagement!
03 Jan 2019 Leading Strategic Change Management Through Employee Engagement
13 Dec 2018 Effectively Navigating the Conflict Spectrum
13 Nov 2018 TPSU Half-Day Fiduciary Training Program
01 Nov 2018 It's Not the Money: The Reasons Employees Quit
04 Oct 2018 Do these Wage and Hour laws still make Cents to You?
13 Sep 2018 GMVHRA Evening of Networking
06 Sep 2018 Medical Marijuana
18 Jul 2018 TPSU Half-Day Fiduciary Training Program
07 Jun 2018 Five Habits of Destructive HR Leaders (Workshop)
03 May 2018 Why We Argue and How We Reconcile
05 Apr 2018 Working to 65 and Beyond… Understanding Medicare, and its Impact on Group Health Coverage
26 Mar 2018 "2018 Granite State HR Conference"
01 Mar 2018 Annual Legal Update
01 Feb 2018 “Responding to Sexual Harassment Complaints in the Post-Harvey Weinstein World”
11 Jan 2018 Energize Passion and Performance
07 Dec 2017 Subject - The Massachusetts Act to Establish Pay Equity: Six Months Out. Are you ready?
02 Nov 2017 Navigating Employee Leave: How to Comply with the Law and Keep Your Business Afloat
05 Oct 2017 “Leadership in Safety: The Alpha and Omega of a Successful Company”
04 Oct 2017 2017 “Women in Technology - Lift & Climb” Event
03 Oct 2017 GMVHRA Evening of Networking
28 Sep 2017 2017 NH Statewide Leadership Conference
07 Sep 2017 Leading with Emotional Agility for HR Leaders
01 Jun 2017 How to Handle Difficult Conversations
04 May 2017 Motivating & Engaging Employees with Non-Monetary Rewards
06 Apr 2017 Annual Legal Update
02 Mar 2017 Wellness Event
02 Feb 2017 ERISA Update: Enforcement Initiatives, Common Mistakes Discovered on Audit, Correction Programs, Plan Sponsor’s Fiduciary Obligations, and the New Fiduciary Rule.
05 Jan 2017 Active Shooter: "Surviving an Incident of Violence"
01 Dec 2016 Lean HR: It’s for ALL HR Professionals!
03 Nov 2016 "The Future of HR: Promoting Business Success in a Changing Global Workplace"
06 Oct 2016 Medical Marijuana in the Workplace: Navigating Potential Potholes
01 Sep 2016 “The Fair Labor Standards Act: Preparing for Implementation of the New White Collar Overtime Exemption Rule”
08 Jun 2016 GMVHRA - 2016-06-08 - “Top Ten Issues When Drafting and Negotiating Separation and Severance Agreements”
11 May 2016 GMVHRA - 2016-05-11 - "The Secret Behind the Curtain of the Wizard of Oz: Building Your Skills to Be an Awesome Coach"
13 Apr 2016 GMVHRA - 2016-04-13 - "2016 Legal Update"
09 Mar 2016 GMVHRA - 2016-03-09 - "2016 Wellness Event- What’s your Wellness Strategy?"
10 Feb 2016 GMVHRA - 2016-02-10 - "Human Connection: A Lost Art in a Noisy World"
13 Jan 2016 GMVHRA - 2016-01-13 - "Employee Handbooks: Legal Compliance and Best Practices"
09 Dec 2015 GMVHRA - 2015-12-09 - "Understanding Workplace Violence"
04 Nov 2015 GMVHRA - 2015-11-04 - "HR And The Aging Workforce: Strategies and Best Practices"
14 Oct 2015 GMVHRA - 2015-10-14 - "Workplace Investigations: 10 Common Mistakes"
10 Sep 2015 GMVHRA - 2015-09-10 - "Developments in the Law of Noncompetes and Other Post-Employment Restrictions"
10 Jun 2015 GMVHRA - 2015-06-10 "Managing Employee Leaves of Absence: Navigating New Laws and Old Challenges"
13 May 2015 GMVHRA - 2015-05-13 "EEO And AAP - How Does It Impact Me And My Company?"
08 Apr 2015 GMVHRA - 2015-04-08 "Wellness Event- Real Ideas for your Organization"
11 Feb 2015 GMVHRA - 2015-02-11 "The New Ambush Election Rules by the NLRB: What Employers Need to Know about Union Organizing Drives"
14 Jan 2015 GMVHRA - 2015-01-14 "Workforce Analytics: Create a Game-Changing Performance Culture"
01 Jun 1990 1990 Annual Meeting


183 Rockingham Rd., Ste 2 East

c/o Landmark Benefits

Windham, NH 03087


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